Balao is alive, Baguio court told


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:49:00 10/26/2008

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Missing activist James Balao is still alive and is being detained in a military camp.

This was a tip received by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance on Thursday, after the first hearing on the petition for a writ of amparo for the surfacing of Balao at the regional trial court in La Trinidad, Benguet.

“Our source informed us that James is still alive and is in detention,” Beverly Longid, CPA chair, said in a forum here on Friday.

Asked to comment about the possibility that his son is still alive, Balao’s father Arthur said: “I am happy to learn that my son is still alive but I am still confused because I do not have the information about his whereabouts.”

On Thursday, the family of Balao and militant groups led by the CPA and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) held a rally in front of the Justice Hall of Benguet to drum up the call to issue the writ.

Witness’ account

During the hearing, representatives of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which represented the respondents in the petition, tried to have the case dismissed but failed.

A witness, Aniceto Adawing who was cross-examined during the hearing, said he saw five armed men accost Balao in Barangay Lower Tomay in La Trinidad on Sept. 17.

Adawing said the men poked their Armalite rifle and .45 cal. guns at Balao and announced that they were arresting him for suspected illegal drug pushing.

Adawing said he was certain that the men were from the police.

Lawyer Gerik Caesare Paderanga, OSG associate solicitor, said most of the petitions which were filed under the writ had been dismissed due to baseless accusations.

Balao’s family filed the petition to compel the military, James’ suspected abductor, to produce him.

The family asked the court to direct the military to disclose the whereabouts of Balao, a founding member of the CPA.

The family also asked the court to allow its authorized representatives to inspect military or police facilities where Balao was believed detained.

Procedure lapse

The OSG also failed to submit a return during a hearing, which, according to human rights lawyers, was a violation of the procedure.

The return is the answer of the respondents to the issues against them which should be submitted five days after the petition was received.

Paderanga said they failed to submit the return because the process would take long as the respondents involved extraordinary people such as President Macapagal-Arroyo, Cabinet secretaries and police and military officials.

“We understand that the family is suffering but the submission of the return will require a lot of time. We have to be practical,” he said.

Lawyer Mary Ann Bayang, Balao counsel, said the failure of the government to submit its response because they were extraordinary people was a flimsy excuse.

“Saying that the respondents were extraordinary people was not an excuse. Whether they were ordinary or extraordinary people, they should be treated equally before the court. The more that they have to comply because they are public officials,” she said. Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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2 Responses to “Balao is alive, Baguio court told”

  1. cousin Says:

    “Lawyer Gerik Caesare Paderanga, OSG associate solicitor, said most of the petitions which were filed under the writ had been dismissed due to baseless accusations.”

    If the writ submitted by the Balao family is based on baseless accusations, then why don’t you prove them wrong? They have witnesses, but do you?

    “Paderanga said they failed to submit the return because the process would take long as the respondents involved extraordinary people such as President Macapagal-Arroyo, Cabinet secretaries and police and military officials.”

    In response to that – thats insanely stupid! Yes, we all understand it’s difficult to get to the president. However, if there are such laws, then they should stick to it! If the law states that a return should be submitted five days after the petition was received then having failed to submit the return defeats the purpose of whatever laws they created! It’s like watching a filipino movie when cops always arrive after the shooting and the killing has already been done, and the ambulance arrives even later when they can’t even rush the injured to the hospital because they’re already dead!

    “We understand that the family is suffering but the submission of the return will require a lot of time. We have to be practical,” Paderanga said. = So can you please define “A LOT OF TIME”? For all we know, a lot of time could mean months, even years!!! “We have to be practical”??? We are talking about someone’s life here – try putting yourself in the shoes of James’ family – how would you feel if someone in your family was missing and you have no idea of his/her whereabouts? Are you just gonna sit there and wait???

  2. anthropologist Says:

    If he IS still alive, why can’t the state produce him?

    It’s very simple.

    Harsh as this may seem, most likely he isn’t . . .

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