A time for commemoration and continuing the struggle against human rights violations

In the 1097th day of the enforce disappearance of James Balao, co-founder of the Cordillera People’s Alliance and alumnus of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet, the Guild remains steadfast in its condemnation of the incident which is a manifestation of the rampant violation of human rights in the Cordillera region.

Abducted by military agents last September 17, 2008 during the term of Gloria Arroyo, James is yet to be surfaced by the suspects. That is despite the Writ of Amparo granted by the Supreme Court last January 2009 ordering Arroyo and her minions to surface James Balao. Now that Arroyo is out of the presidency and Aquino takes over her place, it is deplorable that James is yet to be found nor released. At the same time, it asks for the continued vigilance of everyone regarding not just James’s case but also the general situation of human rights in the country.

Under the Aquino regime, the horror of massive human rights violations does not cease. Aquino’s deceptive Oplan Bayanihan program which hides beneath the cloth of “winning the peace,” is actually a subtle facilitator of more human rights violations. Under the guise of extending services to farlung areas in the form of medical missions, outreach programs among others, Oplan Bayanihan only softens the existing militarization of many communities, especially in the Cordillera. The presence of military personnel in rural communities inhibits the movements of the people on the community, especially those who are identified as critics of the state. In that case, Oplan Bayanihan targets identified critics of the government and this usually leads to human rights violations such as harassments, enforced disappearances and political killings.

Three years after the abduction of James Balao, the struggle for upholding our human rights continue. This is not only the time for commemoration; this is also the time for renewing our strength and commitment in defending and asserting our human rights in the face of a crooked administration that just refuses to grant us what we rightfully deserve.





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