Below is a copy of the open letter of the siblings of James Balao to President Aquino on the occassion of the International Day of the Disappeared.
To date, the family, friends and colleagues of James Balao continue to search for him. On September 17, 2011, it will be three years since he became a victim of enforced disappearance.
Since June 12, we have been sending President Aquino postcards appealing for the surfacing of James. We encourage you to be with us in persisting for the Surfacing of James Balao and other victims of enforced disappearance.
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
August 30, 2011
President Benigno Aquino III
JP Laurel Street
San Miguel, Manila
Dear President Aquino,
It has been 1078 days since James Balao was enforcedly disappeared. James is our brother. He is an indigenous people’s rights activist who was a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and president of the Oclupan Clan Association. He was abducted by State security forces on September 17, 2008 in Tomay, La Trinidad, in front of a school and church and a few meters away from Camp Bado Dangwa, the Regional Headquarters of the Philippine National Police. Since that day, we have been searching for him.
Last June 12, our family, clan, colleagues, and different Human Rights Groups from here and abroad sent to you postcards appealing for the surfacing of my brother. We hope that you read them and have initiated plans to bring back James to us.
We have done everything to look for him. We didn’t leave a stone unturned yet our brother remains missing. Sir, there must be an end to impunity. Our whole family voted for you in hope that you can and will help in the surfacing of James. Words cannot describe the anguish and pain that we went through in our search for him and in our search for justice. Our parents passed away last year without seeing James.
We still believe that the State security forces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are the ones behind his abduction because of Oplan Bantay Laya. Recent updates from the Jonas Burgos case and the case of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno validate this claim. As Commander-in-Chief of the AFP, we are demanding you to take measure and see to it that our loved ones are brought back to us and that perpetrators of these violations are brought before the bar of justice.
Since July last year, there have been eight victims of enforced disappearances. We condemn all of these and we ask you, President Aquino why has enforced disappearance persisted in your term?
No family deserves to experience what we went through and are still going through in our search for James. Enforced Disappearances and other human rights violations have no place in a democratic society.
cordillera human rights alliance
55 ferguson road,baguio city, philippines
telefax: +63. 74. 443. 7159
telephone: +63 74 304 4239
cp: +63 918 919 9007