Release James Balao!

Today is the 35th day since hoodlums abducted James Balao in broad daylight in Baguio City.  He has not been found and nobody knows whether he is dead or still alive.

A proud Igorot, a UP alumnus and an activist for indigenous people’s rights, Balao fits the criteria laid down by Oplan Bantay Laya on who may be considered an “enemy of the state”.  Thus, his abduction last Sept. 17.

According to a report by the Cordillera People’s Alliance, hoodlums abducted Balao in broad daylight, with the hoodlums saying that he was “a drug pusher” and would be brought to Camp Dangwa.

This madness of abductions and summary executions of activists must stop. It is bad for democracy. If there is probable cause to charge activists for offenses, the authorities should take them to court. A litmus test for supposed democracies such as the Philippines is how the state treats dissenters and activists. In the case of the Arroyo administration, the continuing abductions and unsolved executions justify giving the current Malacanang occupant a failing grade and vaporizes whatever moral basis she may invoke for her continued rule.

An international rights group has reminded the Arroyo administration of its responsibility as vice president and member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling Balao’s abduction as “shameful” considering the Philippines’ standing in the UNHRC.

The UP community in Baguio has also demanded authorities to release Balao. Others who have taken up the cause of Balao’s surfacing include Amnesty International, the United Church of Canada, the governor of Ifugao province, the provincial board of Benguet, and plenty of others.

Visit this site to know more and to know how you can help surface James Balao.

Balao’s father wrote the letter below, expressing thanks over the outpouring of support for his son:

If you wish to know the current human rights monitoring, click here and here.

Also: Annual Human Rights Reports issued by Karapatan for 2007, 2006 and 2005.