Delegates of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) to Surface James Balao were frustrated and disappointed over government inaction in resolving the case of the missing activist.
BY CYE REYES
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (248 kms. North of Manila)—Delegates of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) to Surface James Balao were frustrated and disappointed over government inaction in resolving the case of the missing activist.
Organized by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Monitor (IPRM), the ISM looked into the actions taken by concerned government agencies in the search for Balao. Nineteen international and national delegates from 20 organizations joined the mission held October 22.
According to the ISM report presented by Nicole Smith of the Uniting Church of Canada during a press conference here, October 23, dialogues with the regional directors of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Cordillera convinced the participants that the concerned government institutions are ‘not working together to decisively address and resolve the Balao case.’
The report further said the Task Force Balao of the PNP as disclosed by Gen. Eugene Martin of the Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office ‘did not demonstrate any independent action taken to pursue the investigation,’ and instead pressed on what the PNP believes to be the real motives of the abduction.
“He (Martin) declared the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) could not be blamed outright since it was also possible that Balao was abducted over a personal grudge, debt or land dispute within his clan,” said the report.
Smith said government agencies intentionally ignore the pattern of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings happening in the whole country and instead dwelt on theories that could be easily disproved.
The ISM participants became more suspicious of the involvement of government security forces on Balao’s disappearance when they were denied entry to Camp Allen, Baguio City for a dialogue with the officers of the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) of the AFP.
CHR Regional Director Russel Ma-ao mentioned during the dialogue with ISM delegates that their investigating team on the Balao case was also denied entry to Camp Allen.
Marcus Briggs-Cloud of the Cultural Survival-Harvard University said the integrity of indigenous peoples like Balao is violated and desecrated by the government and should be exposed globally.
The ISM was participated in by delegates from the IPRM, International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the EED Task Force on Indigenous Peoples (EED-TFIP), the United Church of Canada, World Council of Churches, National Council of Churches of Australia (NCCA), Tulsa University, DESAPARECIDOS, HUSTISYA, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), the Interfaith Gathering for Truth and Accountability, Takder, Dinteg, ICM Convent, the Lutheran Church of the Philippines, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Northern Luzon Jurisdiction (UCCP-NLJ), the Good Shepherd Convent and the Episcopal Resurrection Cathedral. (Northern Dispatch/posted by (Bulatlat.com)