AFP denies search in camps


Family of missing activist remains hopeful

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — In the continued search for missing activist James Balao, even in the company of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), members of the Balao family and officers of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) were denied entry to military camps in Manila, Tuesday.

“The government is putting obstacles to all our efforts to search for James. If they are not guilty, then why are they afraid to open their camps to us?” said Windel Bolinget, secretary general of CPA, who with representatives of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) were with the family.

The group visited the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Camp Aguinaldo and Fort Bonifacio.

According to Bolinget, they were not allowed to enter these camps because they did not have a court order to compel them (the AFP) to allow them entry.

The Balao family and CPA have a pending petition for a writ of amparo.

“If the writ is granted by the court, the Balao family and CPA would be allowed to search for James in the military and police camps and facilities,” said Bolinget quoting the military officers.

The CHR, however, needs no court order because their mandate is directly from the Philippine constitution, added Bolinget.

The group also visited Camp Crame of the Philippine National Police (PNP). Only the representatives of the CHR and Winston Balao, a sibling of missing Balao were allowed to enter. They, however, were not allowed to go around the police facility.

Meanwhile, the second hearing for the writ of amparo of Balao has been calendared for the 27th of November as requested by the respondents represented by Atty. Gerik Paderanga of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), here, Thursday.

The petitioners asked for five days for them to submit a formal offer of exhibits and their position paper to the court. Paderanga, however requested for more time to make and file their comments.

Judge Benigno Galacgac initially scheduled the next hearing for the 13th but due to another case, Paderanga got it scheduled for a later date.

Though disappointed by the extended time, the petitioners and aggrieved parties vowed to continue their search for Balao.

“I am really frustrated because the intention of the writ of amparo is to protect James’ life and security, and the longer it takes for it to be granted puts James’ life at greater risk,” said Bolinget.

According to Beverly Longid, CPA chairperson, that in as much as they want the court to act with the utmost urgency, their group does not have any control because there are rules to be followed.

“We just hope that they would look at the merits of the case and not dwell on issues of technicalities and legal standing,” added Longid.

Atty. Rex Lampa, one of the members of the legal team handling Balao’s case said “In cases like the writ of amparo, summary proceedings are adopted and any dilatory pleadings are prohibited because of the urgency to provide protection to the victim.”

Paderanga on the other hand said in an interview, it is not easy for them to do all the court requirements because they have lots of respondents including the president.

The respondents’ answer to the petition, which is required in all cases, was just filed during the second hearing.

The answer includes the request to drop Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo among the respondents of the Balao petition citing that the president has immunity from any kind of suit as long as she is in power.

Balao was abducted by heavily armed men, who identified themselves as policemen, on September 17. The petition for the writ of amparo was filed October 9.

While the hearing was ongoing, CPA members and other militant organizations held two separate programs at the Benguet Capitol steps and La Trinidad public market to appeal to the public to be involved in the call for the immediate surfacing of Balao. The Balao family hails from this municipality. # Cye Reyes(NorDis)

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One Response to “AFP denies search in camps”

  1. ramuel santy Says:

    this page is one-sided…..of course the military would not let enyone to just roam around their camp,especially to those activist groups or people.And besides why would the military let the group threaten their securities?Accusing the military as being guilty to the abduction of amparo is not that a juatifiable reason to search their camps.

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