BAGUIO CITY — February 17 marks the 154th day of the enforced disapperance of James Moy Balao, and his family and friends remain clueless about his whereabouts and condition but they are not giving up the search.
DKK BELT OUT A TUNE. At the top of their lungs the Salidummay fills the People’s Park with calls for solidarity in the search for James M. Balao. Photo by Noel Godinez
As part of their unrelenting search efforts, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) held a photo exhibit on the said day at People’s Park that culminated in a short program. The said exhibit aimed to educate the public about enforced disappeance and iterate their demand from the government to surface Balao.
CHRA Deputy Secretary General Imelda Tabiando said that enforced disappearance is part of the the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government’s counter insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II that targets to neutralize leaders and members of progressive organizations.
Tabiando stressed that in cases of enforced disappearances, the victims and their families are subjected to physical and psychological torture.
“At least in cases extra-judicial killings, the victims state is clear, we could bury them properly. We have closure. In cases of enforced disappearance, however, the victim’s condition is unknown. We torturously wait for news that might not even come,” she explained.
She also criticized the government for its failure to stop enforced disappearnces and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Moreover, CPA Chair Beverly Longid said they will not cease searching until Balao is surfaced. She explained that they would continue to pursue all avenues that might help them find Balao.
Longid iterated that the petition for a writ of amparo may have not yielded the best results but it recognized that Balao was abducted by agents of the state and not by his colleagues and co-clan members as the government forces insist.
Longid also called on everyone to join the Balao family, CHRA and CPA to demand the government to immediately surface James and all victims of enforced disappearances and to stop all forms of human rights violations. # KNQ