Photos: Surface James Balao


The CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE urgently demands that those responsible for the enforced disappearance of JAMES M. BALAO should immediately and unconditionally surface him. We are specifically calling on the military intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to surface James. James’ surveillance leading to his abduction was executed only by means of the joint operations of the military intelligence groups-the Intelligence Security Unit (ISU), Military Intelligence Group (MIG) and the PNP. Balao is not simply a missing person but a victim of enforced disappearance, and this is an urgent issue of the right to life that must be upheld and respected at all times. We challenge the AFP and PNP that if they truly are defenders of human rights and are mandated to serve and protect the Filipino people, they MUST immediately surface James Balao.

Balao is a founding member of the CPA in 1984 and worked in its Research and Education Commission, extending his services and expertise in this area in the Cordillera provinces such as in Ifugao. He is the president of their clan association, the Oclupan Clan Association. He hails from Atok and La Trinidad in Benguet. Balao is the second victim of enforced disappearance in the CPA, with Ama Daniel Ngayaan who was first abducted in October 1987 in Pasil, Kalinga. Balao was first arrested in 1988 for allegedly possessing “subversive” documents. The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Intensified Surveillance and Harassment Towards Extrajudicial Killings
Balao’s enforced disappearance is not an isolated incident. It is part of a systematic and desperate move of the State against members and officers of the CPA in its “counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency” campaign. The ultimate end-all of being unjustly branded as a “communist front” or “terrorist” is surveillance and harassment towards extrajudicial killings. In recent months, our members, including innocent civilians, became victims to the state terror unleashed thru the Oplan Bantay Laya. Through the OBL, the Arroyo regime has mercilessly claimed the lives of CPA members Markus Bangit and Alyce Claver in June and July 2006, and nearly, the life of Dr. Chandu Claver.

In November 2007, human rights worker Vangie Tadeo from the CPA-Abra chapter was abducted and it was very fortunate that Vangie escaped from her abductors. In March 2008, a youth member of our cultural member organization was abducted. She was surfaced after four days when her captors could not probably get anything from her. She was severely interrogated and remains in trauma. In their massive military operations in Tubo, Abra last March 2008, the 50th IB killed 60-year old farmer-hinter Mariano Galisen. In April and June 2008, elements of the 77th and 21st IBs mercilessly gunned down farmer-hunters Rey Logao and Rocky Aboli, both of Lubuagan, Kalinga, in what the military senselessly calls a “legitimate encounter with the NPA”. The circumstances of their deaths show that they are innocent civilians merely attending to their daily routine of farming. If the military can commit such a gruesome act to Aboli who is in fact a councilman of Upper Uma barangay, the ordinary civilians are also subject to the AFP’s mad terror tagging. The 5th Infantry Division has in fact manufactured a list of 25 alleged NPA surrenderees that includes names of civilians like Max Liyang Finmon-as of Tonglayan, Natonin, Mt. Province. The barangay officials immediately issued a resolution, also signed by Natonin Mayor Ana Rafael Banaag and the Natonin PNP Chief Eusebio Aclupen, stating that Finmon-as is NOT an NPA but a local resident whom they know.

Undaunted vigilance is very necessary at these crucial times. The regime is desperate in its attempt to prove that it is successful in quelling the revolutionary NPA, because it cannot. That is why it is manufacturing a list of NPAs which are actually innocent civilians and carries on attacking legitimate people’s organizations like the CPA.

The surveillance never stopped, and now, with James’ enforced disappearance, more suspicious looking drivers, taxi cabs and private vehicles have been parking near the CPA regional office and its network of organizations. The extrajudicial killings came to a lull in 2007 as a result of the sustained multi-level pressure at the extremely isolated Arroyo regime and its OBL, and while the regime underwent review for its human rights record in the Universal Periodic Review. The Philippine government’s report to the UPR contained barefaced lies and half truths about the real human rights situation in the country, claiming credit for the decrease in the number of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances through supposed “measures” undertaken by the Philippine government.

Defy State Terror!

Once an innocent civilian or a member of a legitimate people’s organization such as the CPA is labeled as a front organization of the CPP, an NPA supporter or a terrorist, that is already laying the ground towards surveillance, harassment and extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance. In James’ case, let the public know that an AFP dossier has actually tagged James an alleged position as head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Education Bureau in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions. This is outrageous and an outright desperate attempt of the AFP to claim that indeed, the State’s “counter-insurgency” is yielding positive results!

We challenge the AFP and PNP to immediately and unconditionally surface James Balao. Each day that you, the PNP and AFP remain silent and indifferent to the enforced disappearance of James only validates further your accountability in his disappearance.

We, along with the Balao family, appeal to the public for support in our effort to have James immediately surfaced. This is our task as Filipino citizens to always uphold and protect the right to life and not deny it to anyone.

A State that violates basic human rights and brazenly denies the right to life must not be tolerated. We will not tolerate each passing day with passivity nor will we tolerate the impunity bred in this fascist regime. We will heighten our vigilance and most especially, resist and defy state terrorism. We will not be lameducks waiting for prolonged surveillance and harassment and the next extrajudicial killing. We will resist all forms of state terror and if necessary, through self defense as an assertion of our rights to life and self determination!



Beverly Longid
Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance


22 September 2008

Hon. Leila De Lima
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Ave. Diliman,
Quezon City

Dear Honorable Leila De Lima:

James had been missing since Sept. 17, 2008. Today is the fifth day of his unexplained disappearance – the fifth agonizing day of waiting for our family. We are a family gripped with absolute fear. Each passing moment without knowledge of our James’ whereabouts makes us more hopeless.

James is the eldest of our four children and was born in April 10, 1961. He has remained single into his late 40’s as a result of his dedication to his work. For James, his service to the people has always come first. But regardless of his status, he has always been a family man. His desire to serve extended as well to his clan and James has always been a pillar upholding our family.

In 1981, James, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio. In college, he was the Editor-in-Chief of Outcrop, the UP Baguio campus newspaper. After graduation he worked as a research staff for the Cordillera Studies Group (CSG), based in Easter School (1981-1984), then as a staff of Pons Benagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. James was especially involved in the drafting of the provisions on indigenous peoples rights in the 1986 Constitution.

James was one of the founding members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in June of 1984. Prior to that, James had been working as a research staff of the Cordillera Resource Center (CRC). An expert in research, James subsequently worked as member of the CPA’s Research and Education Commission as a researcher and trainer until 1993. Between 1994 and 1997 he was based in Ifugao, first with the Ifugao Research and Development Center and later with the Ifugao Leaders Forum. He has frequently extended his research and training skills to CPA member organizations in other provinces. James has significantly contributed to the CPA’s research in particular on the issues of tribal war, agricultural liberalization and ancestral land. As an active member of the CPA, James makes it a point to attend the CPA’s Annual Cordillera Day celebration such as in Tocucan, Mt. Province (2004) and Baguio City (2007). At present, he is the president of the Oclupan Clan Association.

In his work with the clan association James has played an even more important role in our family. He was tasked with looking into the registration and documentation of clan properties. He has also served as a mediator in clan and tribal conflicts. His selfless willingness to use his education and skills in the service of his family and his people has greatly contributed to the Cordillera’s collectivity and connectivity.

James’s sudden absence is extremely alarming. Starting the first week of June this year, James and the rest of our family have been under regular surveillance by unidentified people. Vehicles with heavily tinted windows have been regularly seen tailing him and us from our residence to wherever we went during the day. We believe that his years with the legal progressive people’s movement has made James the target of state terrorism.

We absolutely fear for his safety and for his life.

We humbly ask your attention, and request your services. Your assistance in immediately locating James is vital to his survival. If he is still in captivity, we believe that his captors will release him, knowing that you have interceded in this delicate situation. If he is being mistreated, we hope that his captors will cease their actions and spare him anymore harm, knowing that the Commission on Human Rights is behind us.

Please help us find James. We, Arthur and Jane, parents of James, Nonette his younger sister, Winston his brother, and Joni the youngest of the family, will exhaust all efforts and resources to locate our James. Together with his colleagues, all the people he has helped and supported in his life, all the clans and tribes he has been a part of we are calling on you to join our search. We will all be lost unless James is found. We fear that the more time we spend searching the less time he will have. We will not cease until we find our James.

We will not lose hope or faith. Please help us find James Balao.

With utmost respect,

The Balao Family
and the people of the Cordillera


James Balao is a founding member of the CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE (CPA) when it was established in June 1984. Before the founding of the CPA, James was concurrently a researcher of the Cordillera Studies Program (CSP), the research and documentation arm of the Cordillera Schools Group (CSG), and a member of the Cordillera Consultative Committee then chaired by Atty. William Claver. The CSG published IGOROT: A People Who Daily Touch the Sky in 1986, and James’ name appears in the acknowledgment to the CSP staff. At present, he is the President of the Oclupan Clan Association and one of his tasks is to look into the registration and documentation of the clan properties.

Even before the founding of the CPA, James was working as a research staff of the Cordillera Resource Center (CRC), then Cordillera Consultation and Research (CCR). His forte and expertise in education and research were reflected in his work as head of the CPA’s Research and Education Commission as a trainor and researcher. He has invaluably contributed to CPA’s Research and Education work, especially in defining the particular manifestations of national oppression and the particular features of self-determination in the Cordillera.

James was with the CPA Regional Office until 1993, and then devoted his skills and expertise to the research and education work of the CPA

chapters and network in the provinces such as in Ifugao from 1994 to 1997, with the Ifugao Research and Development Center (IRDC) and later with the Ifugao Peasant Leaders Forum (IPLF). Then onwards, and up to present, he extends the same services to other provinces in the region, carrying out CPA’s research and education work particularly in agriculture and the Cordillera peasant situation, and his main contribution has been in helping to clarify the features of semi-feudal exploitation in the Cordillera.

At the same time, James has been actively attending to family affairs as clan president of the Oclupan Clan Association. As an active member of the CPA, James makes it a point to attend the CPA’s CORDILLERA DAY Celebrations, such as in Tocucan, Mt. Province (2004) and Baguio City (2007).

Balao graduated BA Psychology from the University of the Philippines Baguio in 1983, with a double major in Psychology and Economics. In college, he was the editor-in-chief of the Outcrop (campus newspaper). James had also worked as a staff of Pons Benagen, of the 1986 Constitutional Commission on the drafting of the 1986 Constitution especially on provisions on indigenous peoples.

He is the eldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur and Jane Balao of Atok and La Trinidad, Benguet and is the eldest of four children. He was born in April 10, 1961. #

Download Profile in PDf format


September 27, 2008


2008 is the Centennial Year of the University of the Philippines. Since January, the entire University System has been celebrating. In fact, in UP Baguio, one of the culminating activities is a Grand Alumni Homecoming on December 5, 2008. But Alas! The preparations to turn this activity into a memorable, major celebration is theatened. One of the University of the Philippines Baguio’s harvests of intelligent minds, of true Iskolars ng Bayan who take to task genuine service to the people, is missing.

JAMES BALAO graduated in1981 with the degree BS Psychology. As a student, he served as editor-in-chief of the official student paper, Outcrop. After graduation, James involved himself into research and writing projects for both academic and non-government organizations. One of his major research outputs has to do with “The Land Problem of the Cordillera National Minorities.”

No one could just disappear in thin air. James could not disappear voluntarily without informing his family and frIends. James loves life. In fact he has been an advocate of the defense of life and land of the Cordillera Peoples, for the protection of his people from oppression and exploitation. James could have only disappeared involuntarily, forcibly.

The UP community appeals to the highest authorities of the Philippines to find the whereabouts of James and send clear signs of the Government’s adherence to justice by surfacing him immediately. If any state agency suspects him of any violations of the laws of the Philippines, James must be allowed to defend himself. The law enforcers must adhere to due process.

We also appeal to all concerned individuals and organizations to sign the on line petition at

You may also forward letters of solidarity to the Balao family through and through the CORDILLERA HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION email address (



The family of JAMES BALAO, a member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), has reported that he has been missing since 17 September 2008. He left his residence in Fairview, Baguio City at around 7:00 AM on the said date and since then, has not been in contact with his friends and family; nor can they contact him. This is very unlikely for Balao, who his friends and family know to be conscientious as to informing them of his whereabouts.

James is of medium-built, 5’7”-5’9” tall, is chinky-eyed and was last seen wearing a black jacket, brown pants, visor, black hiking boots and eyeglasses. He was carrying a yellow and blue backpack and red travelling bag. He was going to spend the following days in the family residence in La Trinidad. His absence is very alarming, as he has reported regular surveillance to his family starting first week of June 2008 and has increasingly heightened until his disappearance. He has
even observed white and blue vans that regularly tail him from his residence to his daily chores.

We are urgently calling on the authorities, particularly the Philippine National Police, and the public who know him (former classmates, friends), to aggressively assist the Balao family and us in our search for James.

Any information in relation to James may be forwarded to the Balao family at 09175069404; the offices of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (442-2115); and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (445-2586 and 09189199007). #

(Arkibong Bayan)

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