Mary Guy Portajada,
Secretary General, Desaparecidos
09175415133/ 434 2837
Three years and still no James Balao
“Families of the Disappeared for Justice extend their sincerest solidarity with the Balao family for their continuing search for James and their plight for justice,” Mary Guy Porajada, secretary general of Desaparecidos said today in the regular Third Saturday Gathering of victims of human rights violations.
James Balao or Manong James as his colleagues fondly call him was abducted on Sept. 17, 2008 in Lower Tomay, La Trinidad, Benguet near Baguio City. Eyewitnesses claimed he was abducted by five men in civilian clothes who jumped out of a Toyota Revo or Mitsubishi Adventure van and handcuffed him as he was making his way home. At least one of the men was said to be armed with an Armalite rifle. Reports claim Balao’s abductees told onlookers he was a drug pusher, and was being taken to Camp Dangwa, the regional headquarters of the PNP. The police deny responsibility for his abduction. Balao remains missing to this day.
Balao belongs to a Kankaney-Ibaloi tribe. He is the founding member of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, a graduate of University of the Philippines, Baguio and a staunch advocate of indigenous people’s right for self-determination.
“It is sad that James parents died without seeing their son alive and free,” Portajada says. His mother Jane suffered from Alzheimer’s disease which prevented her from comprehending that her son was missing. She died on June 2010 followed by James’ father Arthur Balao in August of the same year. “It is with a heavy heart that James siblings brought their parents to their resting place with him still missing,” Mary Guy lamented.
“We also express our strongest condemnation to the continuing disappearance of James and all other disappeared,” Portajada firmly said. “This act of omission on the part of the PNoy administration, to act on cases of the disappeared, is only a reflection of the commission of more human rights violations in the country today.” Portajada says. “We no longer hold him for his promises to uphold the people’s rights, we now hold him responsible for his repressive acts against the people.” She concluded. ###