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Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol, for Northern Dispatch, writes about the latest developments in the government-sponsored kidnaping of former Cordillera Peoples Alliance chair James Balao:
Benguet Provincial Police Office (PPO) Provincial Director Rodolfo Azurin admits lapses in the investigations conducted in relation to the disappearance of James Moy Balao.
Azurin in an interview pointed out that there were procedural lapses in the conduct of the investigations on the Balao case. Among the lapses he mentioned was the failure of the investigators to immediately verify the reported exchange of text messages between James and his family and colleagues as reported by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA).
“The investigators should have verified with the Globe Telecoms if there really an exchange of text messages between James and his family,” he reiterated.
He also admitted that he had to study and familiarize himself with the case since he just assumed office this year.
Earlier, Branch 63 of the Regional Trial Court through a final report penned by Judge Jennifer Humiding expressed disappointment over the police’s failure to present new leads in the enforced disappearance of James.
Azurin said the investigation on James’ disappearance would take more time and patience given the length of time and recent developments. He added that the witness who helped in producing a cartographic sketch of one of the suspects recently withdrew. “Given that this is an old case and the witnessed withdrew his earlier statement, the investigations will take time. We will need a lot of patience,” he said.
The provincial director also mentioned that cases like that of James really requires thorough investigation that is not bound by deadlines. “The problem with giving deadlines is that it adds pressure to investigators which affects the quality of their work,” he explained.
Azurin also said the investigations is now directly under the Department of Justice (DOJ) and that they are waiting for the reconstitution of the investigation team. He, however, mentioned that at the moment the police is now comparing the cartographic sketch with the roaster of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).