June 12, 2011
Reference:Mary Guy Portajada
Contact Numbers: +639175415133 / 024342837
On Phil Independence Day
Desaparecidos mark 1,000th day of James Balao’s disappearance
Families of the Disappeared for Justice (Desaparecidos) joined progressive people’s organizations today in a protest action against President Noynoy Aquino’s administration on Philippine Independence day by marking the1,000th day of disappearance of indigenous people’s rights activist James Balao.
“As we remember James’ 1,000th day of disappearance, we look back into how our country continues to be dictated upon by the United States with the state policies it implements on its people,” Marygay Portajada, Desaparecidos Secretary General said. “Counter-Insurgency Programs patterned after the US Counter-Insurgency guide have resulted to countless cases of disappearances such as that of James.”
James Moy Balao, was 47 when he was taken by five armed men on September 17, 2008 in La Trinidad, Benguet. Witnesses to his abduction remember the perpetrators declare that James was a drug pusher and he was to be brought to Camp Dangwa where the regional police headquarters was. He was not found there and remains missing to this day.
According to Desaparecidos the US counter-terror campaign adopted by the Gloria Arroyo government as their own has been used to label and silence activists like James. With Oplan Bantay Laya, the GMA regime equated street parliamentarians with armed rebels.”Her government arrested, detained, maimed, disappeared or shot them down, when all these freedom-loving activists wanted was a country free of abuse and oppression.” Portajada said. “James was not a terrorist, he advocated for a stop to the environmental and indigenous peoples abuse they have long been suffering in the name of so-called Philippine development programs.”
She further pointed out that the anti-insurgency program of the Aquino regime, Oplan Bayanihan, is no different. “Five more have been abducted and disappeared under PNoy,” she said “And not one among the 206 disappeared under GMA have been surfaced nor given justice to.”
The group joined other members of human rights organizations led by Karapatan carry a small battered hut, showing Oplan Bayanihan as a burden to the Filipino people, as they marched towards the US Embassy. They feel that the prevailing condition, where the Philippine government remains at the mercy of an imperialist super power will only persist in more human rights violations.
The group also gave out postcards of James Balao, asking the public to mail these to the Office of the President, urging him to act on James’ case and other victims of enforced disappearances. ###