Balao kin pushes implementation of SC decision
By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The family and colleagues of James Moy Balao reiterated their demand for the Philippine National Police to obey and execute the Supreme Court decision to conduct an impartial and substantial investigation on their kin’s enforced disappearance as they condemn the continuing vilification of the victim by suspected agents of the military.
In a letter addressed to PNP Cordillera Regional Director Benjamin Magalong the Balao family asked the PNP asked to be given a copy of their reports on the progress of their investigations as specified in the Supreme Court’s February decision on the petition for Writ of Amparo they had filed in 2008.
It can be recalled that in the decision the SC also ordered the AFP and PNP to periodically report to RTC Branch 63 on the progress of their investigation affirming the petitioners assertion, that the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) investigations were insufficient.
The Balao’s also called on the PNP to investigate two cell phone numbers; 639993031078 and 09092564852 used by a certain Sgt. Maganto who claimed to be from the PNP Cordillera-Quirino province.
According to the siblings of James, on August 19 at around 8:20AM they received a text message from 639993031078 saying “James Balao s already dead”. When they asked about the circumstances of James’ death and his whereabouts there was no reply so they called the said number at around 11:51AM but the only response on the other end was “Emergency call, not on duty. Try to call 09092564852”.
They then texted the later number and asked where they could see James and the reply was “Ilang years nb nawa2la sa nyo c James Balao,,,wala ba xang kaso nung araw”. Later in the evening they again called the said number and this Sgt. Maganto who claimed to be a member of PNP Cordillera-Quirino province told them that James Balao and three other alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed in an encounter and alleged that they have the bodies of the four. He claimed that James was identified through an identification card found in his wallet. He, however did not give an exact location and instructions on how to retrieve the body despite the Balao sibling’s prodding.
This Sgt. Maganto further said that he was not the one who texted earlier that day because there was some one else who was on duty. But he did not identify who texted.
“It is nearly four years since our brother became a victim of enforced disappearance. The search for James has been very difficult but we will persist. We reiterate that James is not a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) or a terrorist. We fear that this might be another ploy by the State agents to escape accountability from their actions or do away with the investigation,” the letter read.
The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) in a statement condemned the recent misleading messages from suspected State security agents saying that it is a callous act and a lame attempt to give credence to the story the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP floated from the day James was abducted.
CHRA also pointed out in their statement that the misleading messages are meant to inflict more emotional distress to the Balao family and an attempt of State agents to escape accountability and to stop the conduct of a thorough investigation as ordered by the SC.
“We condemn this attempt to justify human rights violations on the basis of one’s political beliefs and by vilifying the victim,” the statement read.
Katribu President Beverly Longid, the former chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance who was among those who filed the petition for Writ of Amparo reiterated that PNP should abide by the SC ruling saying that it has been long overdue. She added that this coming September 17 marks the fourth year of James’ abduction.
“This insensitive act is a lame attempt to justify James’ disappearance. Granting that the AFP’s allegation is true that James is a member of the NPA, abduction is still unjust. We have the courts, we have laws that should be followed, ” she reiterated.
She called Quirino Province Chief of Police John Ricomano, who is based in Cabarroguis town to verify the reports of this Sgt. Maganto. Ricomano said the Quirino PNP do not have a Sgt. Maganto in their roster. The PNP Chief added that there were no reported encounters in the area.
Longid further criticized President Benigno Aquino III saying that in his three years in power he failed to fulfill his promise to stop enforced disappearances and other human rights violations as the violations continue and perpetrators remain unpunished. “He is no different from the other presidents. Human rights violations and the disrespect of indigenous peoples rights continues under his term,” she stressed.
She also criticized the AFP’s failure to arrest General Jovito Palparan and the increase in the reward money for anybody who would be able to give information about his whereabouts.
She explained that the increase in reward money is like passing on to the citizenry the AFP’s job to find and apprehend Palparan.“If only the AFP is as aggressive and quick at arresting Palparan like they do at arresting and filing trumped up charges against activists,” she lamented. # nordis.net