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CPA Statement on the Decision on the Petition of the Writ of Amparo for James Balao

posted Jan 24, 2009, 6:48 AM by Diego S. Maranan
January 23, 2009

The Decision on the Petition for Issuance of the Writ of Amparo in Favor of James Moy Balao has finally been issued after a miserably long wait since the Balao Family and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance filed it with Branch 63 of the Regional Trial Court in La Trinidad, Benguet in October 2008. It was granted amidst efforts of the Respondents to dismiss the petition.

Issued on January 19, 2009, the Judgment clearly states that what had happened to James is a case of an enforced disappearance, it is State-perpetrated and politically motivated, affirming this by recognizing that James’ “abduction came at a time when the government is engaged in an all-out war against its perceived enemies, which has resulted in unabated extrajudicial killings, abductions, political persecution and violations of civil and political rights of the people. It happened at a time when organizations and individuals critical of the government are tagged as terrorists or enemies of the State,” and that “On record is evidence pointing to the more likely than not motive for James Balao’s disappearance—his activist/political leanings.”

Thus, it is not a purge within the CPA, not an offshoot of clan disputes or a personal grudge against James as so stated by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In fact, Presiding Judge Benigno Galacgac states in the Judgment, “I have no reason to doubt that in his time he was a very good CPA researcher, educator, trainor and organizer who spent most of his times living with, educating and organizing farmers in the provinces while doing some research for the CPA.”

The Court likewise admits that indeed, the “police and military failed in conducting an effective investigation of James Balao’s abduction as revealed by the investigation report of respondent’s own witness Hon. Chief Superintendent Eugene Martin and Hon. Senior Superintendent Fortunato Albas xxx The investigation was very limited, superficial and one-sided.”

Directed to respondents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the Commander-in-Chief of the AFP, Eduardo Ermita, Gilberto Teodoro, Ronaldo Puno, Norberto Gonzales, Gen. Alexander Yano, Gen. Jesus Versoza, Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, Lt. P/Dir. Edgardo Doromal, Maj. Gen. Isagani Cachuela, Commanding Officer of the AFP-ISU based in Baguio City, PSS Eugene Martin of the PRO-CAR and several John Does, the Judgment instructs the above, and “all persons acting for and in their behalf to a) disclose where James Balao is detained or confined, b) to release James Balao considering his unlawful detention since his abduction, c) to cease and desist from further inflicting harm upon his person and d) respect and protect his civil and constitutional rights and liberty.”

The Decision is strongly-worded and boldly states that the State is responsible and accountable for James’ abduction. Thus, these merit the granting of the interim orders as far as inspection, production and witness protection. However, the Court denied the issuance of the said orders for failure of the Petitioners to comply with the stringent provisions on the Rule on the Writ of Amparo. The stringent provisions defeat the heart of the Writ of Amparo. This is especially since the petition clearly shows the urgency and necessity of the Writ, and the witnesses and evidence presented were not rebutted during the hearings.

While the Court directed the respondents to the above orders (a, b and c) – the respondents can easily deny that James is not in their custody. However, disappointed we may be on the judgment and slow justice this shall not dampen our continuing efforts to search and surface James, and exact State accountability on his enforced disappearance. #


Reference:

Beverly L. Longid
Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance
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