A Regional Trial Court in Benguet found substantial evidence to link Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and state security forces to the abduction of missing activist James Balao.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (263 kms. North of Manila)– A Regional Trial Court in Benguet found substantial evidence to link Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and state security forces to the abduction of missing activist James Balao.
In a decision promulgated January 19, the Regional Trial Court-Branch 63 here found substantial evidence to link Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano, PNP Chief Jesus Versoza, Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, P/Dir. Edgardo Doromal, Maj. Gen. Isagani Cachuela and Senior Supreintendent Eugene Martin, to the abduction and continued disappearance of activist James Balao.
Said officials are respondents to the petition for the writ of amparo filed by Balao’s family and the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA). Balao is a staff of the Baguio-based CPA.
Judge Benigno M. Galacgac penned the decision in this case.
The court’s 13-page decision directed the respondents to “(a) disclose where James Balao is detained or confined, (b) to release James Balao considering his unlawful detention since his abduction and (c) to cease and desist from further inflicting harm upon his person.”
The said decision also noted that the state policy, Operations Plan Bantay Laya, which tags members and leaders of progressive people’s organizations as enemies of the state, validates the claims of CPA and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) that Balao was taken by state agents and not a victim of a ‘purge’ as the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police officials claim.
“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 time living with, educating and organizing farmers in the provinces while doing some research for the CPA,” Galacgac’s decision read.
The court also found that Balao disappeared because of his “activist/political leanings.” It further chided respondents for its ‘very limited, superficial, and one-sided’ investigation of Balao’s enforced disappearance, and for using ‘technicalities and evidentiary jargon to thwart [the] petition to surface the activist.’