Rights violations continue despite CHR — Coun. Cariño

BAGUIO CITY — Joining advocates on their call to surface Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) founding member James Balao, a city councilor here noted that present human rights violations have not changed from records of past administrations.

Councilor Richard Cariño pointed out that despite the existence of the constitutionally-created Commission on Human Rights (CHR), human rights violations continue as the incidents (HRVs) have not declined.

In a show of their condemnation to enforced disappearances, Cariño and members of the city council passed a resolution that condemns enforced disappearances, regardless of who the victims are.

“Our position against enforced disappearances is institutionalized under such resolution,” he said in an interview, after his talk in the gathering at the People’s Park here Friday, October 17, where participants urged the GMA administration and its security troops to surface Balao.

Balao was abducted by suspected elements of the intelligence units of the military and police on September 17 in Lower Tomay, La Trinidad, a few meters away from the PNP regional office of Camp Dangwa, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance said.

Remembering abduction

Carino is reminded him of his clients known as Baguio 14 because of the abduction of Balao.

In 1988, 14 peasant leaders from Nueva Ecija were having a meeting at the Legarda Road here when they were abducted by military.

Together with human rights advocates, they went searching military camps but failed to locate the 14 peasants.

They learned afterwards that the 14 were at the Camp Allen, a military camp, in front the city hall.

Since the military were holding them without legal basis, they (military) under the leadership of a certain Major Garcia of the Philippine Army turned over the 14 to the Baguio City jail but after they were charged of subversion and illegal possession of firearms by their captors, said Cariño, who was an active member of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) during that period.

The cases filed against the then known Baguio 14 were dismissed, after six years that they had been jailed.

Meanwhile, elders from Bontoc, Mountain Province joined the gathering at the People’s Park.

Petra Macliing urged the people to unite and join the search for missing Balao. Her call is a support for CPA’s Mabtad Kaigorotan or campaign to search James Balao.

A veteran against the Chico dam project and anti-mining in their home village of Mainit, Macliing famous line for the military is to turn their gun into productive plow where they can produce food for the people.

Evelyn Miranda of the Am-Amung di Ifontok (Gathering of the Ifontok tribe) pointed out among the participants that the case of Balao is a case of a resident abducted in his own land.

She condemned the military for the abduction and urged residents to search for Balao as “he is our own blood.” The mother of James Balao has ascendants from Bontoc, pointed Miranda, who is also a council member of the Cordillera Elders Assembly, an alliance of elders groups from various tribes of the Cordillera.

Today is already the 30th day since James was abducted, CHRA said. # Arthur L. Allad-iw(NorDis)


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