Exactly two months since James Balao disappeared, his family called on the members of the House of Representatives to conduct investigation and help them in their continuing search.
Balao, founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), was abducted on Sept. 17, around 8 a.m. in Lower Tomay, La Trinidad Benguet by suspected agents of the Military Intelligence Group and the Philippine National Police.
Balao’s younger sister Nonette said, “Each passing moment without knowledge of our James’ whereabouts is agonizing. Please help us find him.” She was accompanied by members of the CPA, Manila-based indigenous group TAKDER, and human rights groups Desaparecidos and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Monitor.
Balao’s 77-year old father, Arthur, sent a letter asking members of Congress ‘to give more pressure to surface my son soonest so we, as a family, will all be together this coming Christmas.’
In solidarity with the Balao family, representatives of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women’s Party filed House Resolution No. 869 directing the Committee on Human Rights to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, into the enforced disappearance of Balao.
The resolution states, “The Philippine Government must observe the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other international human rights laws and declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”
CPA Chairperson Beverly Longid called on Cordillera lawmakers to support the said resolution. “We call upon our kakailian (villagemates) in Congress to support efforts to immediately surface our Ibaloi and Kankana-ey brother. Isakit ti kailyan (defend, protect and empathize with your fellow Igorots).”
Legislators from Cordillera include Kalinga and Mountain Province Representative Manuel Agyao, Apayao Representative Elias Bulut, Ifugao Representative Solomon Chungalao, Benguet Representative Samuel Dangwa, Abra Representative Cecilia Seares-Luna and Baguio City Representative Mauricio Domogan.
“President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has Igorot blood on her hands. Under her regime, many of our kakailian have been martyred while defending their ancestral land and self-determination. Help save Jame’s life from the punitive handiwork of state terrorism and national oppression,” said Longid.
The Balao family and members of the CPA also went to the camps of the 50th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) in Ilocos Sur and of the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) office in Camp Alen, Baguio City. They were denied entry to Camp Alen and were allowed limited visit to the 50th Infantry Battalion camp.
A petition for writ of amparo is being heard by Judge Benigno Galacgac of Benguet Regional Trial Court Branch 63.(Bulatlat.com)