Published: November 27th 2008November 25th 2008
As we further the search for our missing colleague, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) founding member and indigenous leader James Moy Balao, the CPA, along with the Balao family and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), again appeal for your support by joining us in an International Day of Action to Surface James Moy Balao on November 28, 2008.
This day marks the 72nd day of James’ disappearance while November 29 is the International Day of Human Rights Defenders. As advocates and defenders of human rights, let us take action on the said dates by paying tribute to human rights defenders around the world, and seek justice for the victims of human rights violations and enforced disappearances such as James Balao.
The International Day of Action involves primarily the simultaneous sending of letters of concern and/or condemnation from different countries to the offices of the Philippine President, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Thus, we urge groups and individuals to send letters to the said concerned government officials of the Philippines, the names and contact details are provided below. Attached is a draft letter, which you may send.
We also encourage friends and partners to hold activities in significant places such as Philippine embassies in countries where they are. Let us work under the theme “Uphold human rights! Fight for peace and justice. Stop enforced disappearances in the Philippines!”
Through this, we are hoping that the Philippine President, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and other concerned government agencies will immediately respond to our call and immediately surface James. Kindly inform the CPA (firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com) and CHRA (firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com) of your action in relation to this.
Thank you for your continued support.
Kindly send communications to the following:
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Fax: +63 2742 1641 or +63 2929 3968
DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL JESUS A. VERZOSA
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +63 2726 4361 / +63 2726 4366 / +63 2726 4329
Gen. Alexander B. Yano
Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines
Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +63 2892 1693
CORDILLERA PEOPLES' ALLIANCE
# 2 P. Guevarra Street, West Modern Site
Aurora Hill, 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Tel: +63-74-442-2115Fax: +63-74-443-7159
Draft Letter for November 29
We are individuals, and organizations enraged by the alarming cases of enforced disappearances since 2001. We have learned that from July- September of this year, there have been seven (7) documented cases of enforced disappearances in the Philippines making the total cases of enforced disappearances close to two hundred since 2001.
One of the victims is human rights defender James Moy Balao, son of Arthur and Jane Balao of the Kankanaey and Ibaloi indigenous peoples of Benguet, outstanding alumnus of the University of the Philippines Baguio, founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and one of the finest sons of the Cordillera. He remains missing to this day.
James was abducted last September 17 in Lower Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet in front of a church and school and a few meters from the Philippine National Police Regional Headquarters (Cordillera Administrative Region), Camp Dangwa. He was forcibly taken by five armed men who identified themselves as police and who immediately handcuffed him after they got down from a white Revo. Witnesses say that James pleaded to the bystanders before his abductors could muffle his mouth and drag him to the vehicle, “Ask them what I have done wrong!” .
Ninety two days has passed and we ask now, where is James? Why have they taken him?
James’ enforced disappearance is a case committed under the Philippine government’s Operation Plan Bantay Laya which unjustly brands legitimate people’s organizations as fronts of revolutionary organizations, of which the CPA is included. As a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance tagged by the State as a sectoral front of revolutionary organizations, James was targeted for neutralization.
We hope that James is still alive as gathered by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance from sources within the state security forces themselves. We demand that he be surfaced in the most immediate time.
On this day, we pay the highest respects to women human rights defenders who have paid the cost of working for the respect of human dignity, social justice and peace with their own lives and liberty. It is rightful to stress, especially as we continue to search for James, that we ask the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to:
Surface James Moy Balao. No person should be subjected to enforced disappearance. There is no justification for this violation. Military and police camps and all detention facilities should be made open for thorough searches by the family, human rights organizations and the Commission on Human Rights.
Conduct an independent investigation on James' enforced disappearance and bring those accountable to the bar of justice.
Immediately terminate Operation Plan Bantay Laya which tags members and leaders of civil society organizations as sectoral fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines- New Peoples Army. We call on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to sincerely implement the recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston - “As Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the President must take concrete steps to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations”.
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).
Sign and fully implement the United Nations Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances