𝐒𝐔𝐑𝐅𝐀𝐂𝐄 𝐉𝐀𝐌𝐄𝐒 𝐁𝐀𝐋𝐀𝐎! 𝐒𝐔𝐑𝐅𝐀𝐂𝐄 𝐀𝐋𝐋 𝐃𝐄𝐒𝐀𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐄𝐂𝐈𝐃𝐎𝐒!
September 17, 2023
We continue to condemn the attacks against the people, activists, and human rights defenders like James Balao who was enforcedly disappeared 15 years ago. We will be tireless in our call to stop the attacks against human rights defenders and end all enforced disappearances until impunity is decisively ended and justice is served.
James Balao is a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance. He was among the members who established CPA in June 1984 after he witnessed the resistance of the Bontoc and Kalinga people against the Chico Dam Project. He knew that as a scholar of the people, his skills will be of service to the documentation, education and information dissemination and organizing if indigenous communities for human rights and self-determination.
On September 17, 2008, he was abducted with the implementation of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's notoriously brutal security policy Oplan Bantay Laya.
James Balao was n La Trinidad while he was on his way home to his family. He is the son of Jane and Arthur Balao, who both died not seeing him. He is the eldest brother of Nonette, Winston and Joni Balao.
It is evident, those who speak out and stand up for the rights of the people, are targets of the impunity of past and present administrations. Communities that forged solidarity to form CPA before were under attack. The CPA, as it continues to assert and defend indigenous peoples human rights continues to be attacked by the State and its machineries. From the dictatorship of Marcos Sr. up to the current administration, enforced disappearance and abduction have been used to instill fear and silence human rights defenders and activists. More than 1,000 individuals disappeared under the dictatorship of Marcos Sr., 821 during Cory Aquino, 39 under Ramos, more than 200 under Arroyo, at least 29 during Aquino III, 26 under Duterte and 10 so far under Marcos Jr. These numbers include:
Ama Daniel Ngayaan, abducted October 5, 1987. He was one of the elders who stood up and actively participated and led the opposition against the Chico River Dam project during the Marcos dictatorship.
James Balao, disappeared September 17, 2008
Steve Tauli, abducted August 20, 2022. He is a long-time IP rights and envi defender. He has been active since the anti-Chico dam struggle. He was surfaced immediately on August 21 and has reported physical and psychological torture he experienced under the custody of NTF-ELCAC personnel. He is currently a member of the Regional Council of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and was recently UNJUSTLY and ARBITRARILY designated as a terrorist by the ATC.
Dexter Capuyan and Bazoo De Jesus, disappeared April 28, 2023. Dexter Capuyan was a former Cordillera-based activist, Bazoo is an indigenous rights advocate and is a staff of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples. Dexter and Bazoo were both very active and very known student leaders of the University of the Philippines Baguio. Both are amazing writers and journalists, Dexter was also part of Outcrop during his years in UPB, Bazoo headed the UPB Council of Leaders in 2014 and was in the forefront in the fight against anti-student policies in UP. Habeas corpus was granted but State security forces deny accountability despite the bounty and disinformation campaign against the two.
Enforced disappearances is one of the worst human rights violations committed by state security forces and is a blatant disregard of the law. We hold the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippines National Police, the National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict and the regimes of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Rodrigo Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., accountable for the continued enforced disappearances and absence of justice and worsening impunity in the region and the whole country.
Today, we commemorate with a stronger resolve to continue the campaign and the search and to for all the disappeared. We stand in solidarity with friends, colleagues, and families of all victims of enforced disappearances. Habang patuloy ang ating paghahanap, patuloy din nating sinisingil ang estado at mga armadong pwersa nito.