The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CP-SHR) and Migrante B.C. are deeply
concerned with the disappearance of James Balao, one of the co-founders of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) in the Philippines.
It is unfortunate that authorities in the higher echelon of the Philippine government are uneasy with James Balao’s work through the CPA, more so that the indigenous peoples are increasingly aware of their rights over their ancestral lands. The government would rather sell off their lands to multinationals and big business corporations through mining and development projects (including Canadian companies – ed). This is one reason why the government and the military are threatened by citizens like James Balao.
For those who are in power, activists like James Balao are an irritant, an unwanted barrier to the government’s questionable decisions, particularly the government’s Mining Act which has sold out the nation’s patrimony and violated the nation’s sovereignty. The Philippine government, true to its subservient role with the U.S.-Bush government, calls its critics “terrorists” and “communists” and wages war against them.
The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CP-SHR) and Migrante B.C. call on the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to stop the illegal and wanton arrests, forced disappearances and outright murders of leaders of the people who fight for justice and their human rights. We hold her accountable for the more than 900 extra-judicial killings and over one hundred forced disappearances. We demand that she look at improving the conditions of the majority of the Filipino people. It is neither the communists nor the terrorists who cause the government trouble. It is the other way around. If the Arroyo government is truly serving the people, respecting their human rights and conscious of dispensing the law with equal justice for all, then she would not need a brutal military force to implement Operation Bantay Laya, her counter-insurgency program. Kung may katarungan at kalayaan ang mga mamamayan, hindi na sila dapat bantayan pa.
We join the Filipino people’s call for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a call that is loud, clear, reverberates overseas and intensifies even more as she continues to sow terror against the Filipino people.
We demand that James Balao be surfaced now!