Monday, January 5, 2009

Action Alert: Petition Philippine Government to Halt Attacks on Civil Society Groups

Cultural Survival and the Cordillera People's Alliance issued action alerts for the disappearance of indigenous activist James Balao. The contents of Cultural Survival's petition are copied below. We encourage our readers to consider signing the petition:

Philippine indigenous activist James Balao went missing on Sept. 17th in La Trinidad town in Benguet province. His disappearance could be connected to his work as a defender of human rights among the indigenous people of northern Luzon. Balao is the founder of the Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA). Members of military intelligence and police have been linked to his abduction. He is the second CPA member to disappear since 1987. Two other CPA members were murdered by unidentified assailants two years ago. For more information:

Write a letter or send an email urging the government of the Philippines to probe the disappearance of Balao and to observe international covenants on human rights by halting attacks on members of civil society groups.
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
MalacaƱang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
E-mail: /

Dear President Macapagal-Arroyo:

I am deeply disturbed about the "disappearance" of Cordillera Peoples Alliance co-founder and member James M. Balao on September 17, 2008, following months of surveillance. The circumstances of his abduction suggest that military intelligence agents had a role in it. Since then, his family has had no information regarding his whereabouts.

Since the Philippine government implemented its Operation Plan Bantay Laya in 2001, members and leaders of organizations working for Indigenous Peoples' rights, such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, have been unjustly labeled communist fronts and terrorist organizations. Their leaders have received death threats, and have been kidnapped and killed.

We urgently call for the democratic government of the Philippines to categorically reject the illegal and globally condemned practices of past military dictatorships; and urge you, as the Philippines Commander in Chief, to leave no stone unturned until James Balao's place of detention is identified, those responsible are arrested, and he is returned to his family and community.

Sincerely yours,