BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—A Benguet judge has issued a writ of amparo for missing activist James Balao, saying government officials, including those from the military and police, are responsible for his abduction last year.
Judge Benigno Galacgac of the Benguet regional trial court, in a Jan. 19 order, asked the government to “disclose where [Balao] is detained or confined [and] release [him] considering his unlawful detention since his abduction.”
The court also asked them to “cease and desist from further inflicting harm upon his person.”
Balao, an activist and founder of Cordillera Peoples Alliance, was abducted by armed men believed to be soldiers in Benguet on Sept. 17 last year.
Balao’s family, in October last year, filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo to compel the military to present the activist.
Galacgac, however, denied the issuance of inspection, production and witness protection order after Balao’s family and the CPA failed to comply with the provisions on the rule on the writ of amparo.
The respondents were President Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Alexander Yano, and Philippine National Police chief, Director General Jesus Verzosa.
Also named as respondents were top military officials with the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) and police officials in Northern Luzon.
Galacgac said Ms Arroyo should not be bothered by lawsuits but he noted that a petition for the writ of amparo “is not by any stretch of imagination a niggling, vexing or annoying court case that Her Excellency should be shielded from.”
“The duty of the President to faithfully execute the laws of the land places the Chief Executive under the rule of law … Her Excellency should thus be made aware of impediments in the system that threatens or subverts human rights so she could act accordingly to counteract their negative impact on society,” he said.
The court said the police and military “failed in conducting an effective investigation of [Balao’s] abduction.”
Galacgac said the issuance of a writ of amparo “must not be looked upon with disfavor.”
“Instead, it should be a welcome development for Her Excellency’s commitment to enforce the rule of law. It should be seen as a report of wrongdoings of Her Excellency’s subordinates, those who, like spoiled bureaucrats, do not wish to toe Her Excellency’s line of good governance,” he said.