Tag Archives: Burgos

[Statement] Truth cannot be hidden forever… -AFAD

Truth cannot be hidden forever…

AFAD Statement on the 6th Anniversary of Jonas Burgos’ Disappearance
28 April, 2013

AFADExactly six years ago, Jonas Burgos, peasant leader and son of the late press freedom icon, Joe Burgos, was allegedly seized and made to disappear by the military at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City. For six long years, the Burgos family has indefatigably searched for him, used of every possible step available to know the truth behind Jonas’ enforced disappearance and bring those responsible to justice.

But after six years, no one has yet been put on trial despite the government’s repeated pledges of making Jonas’ disappearance case its top priority. So far, the Aquino government has done nothing concrete to shed light on the number of enforced disappearance cases and other forms of human rights violations committed during the Arroyo administration. Far worse is that enforced disappearances continue, albeit in lesser number compared to the previous administration. Under the present political dispensation, 18 cases have been documented by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND). Yet, one case is worse enough…

But truth cannot be hidden forever. The relentless efforts of the Burgos family particularly of Jonas’ mother, Mrs. Edita Burgos and the support of the human rights community have gradually led them in getting close to the truth.

A huge step forward in this quest for truth is the recent decision of the Supreme Court ordering the re-investigation of Jonas’ disappearance case.. The High Court’s decision was based on new pieces of evidence submitted by Burgos family in a petition. This newly discovered documentary evidence includes confidential military reports such as the “After Apprehension Report,” the “Psycho Social Processing Report,” and the “Autobiography of Jonas Burgos”, which fell into the lap of the Burgos family from a source not completely part of the military.

Not only that these new pieces of evidence give weight to the Burgos family’s court petition but it further proves the already established fact that state actors are the ones involved in this case.

Many people in many parts of the world who advocated change have suffered the same fate like Jonas Burgos. Who would imagine a human rights lawyer like Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit of Thailand, a journalist like Prageeth Ekneligoda of Sri Lanka and a Development worker and a Ramon Magsaysay awardee like Mr. Sombath Somphone of Laos to be victimized by enforced disappearance? How could we imagine democratic governments to commit such an act?

This clearly shows that enforced disappearance particularly in Asia, a continent which has the highest number of cases of enforced disappearances reported to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, remains a state’s instrument of repression that spares no one.

The Philippines has recently made history being the first in Asia to criminalize and penalize enforced disappearances with the enactment of Republic Act No. 10353 or the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012” on 21 December 2012 and the promulgation of the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on 12 February 2013. But a law is as good as its implementation. It requires strong political will on the part of Aquino government to ensure the law’s full implementation. The disappearance case of Jonas Burgos is a litmus test of the government’s commitment not only to ensure accountability but to combat impunity and guarantee that it will never happen again.

Those responsible for the disappearance of Jonas Burgos and all Desaparecidos should bear in mind that their time will surely come, for truth will come out eventually despite desperate efforts to hide it.

On the occasion of the 6th anniversary of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance, AFAD calls on the Philippine government to prove its adherence to the spirit and letter of the Anti-Disappearance Act of 2012. The Aquino government has to leave no stone unturned to ferret out the truth, to punish the perpetrators to the full extent of this new law and indeed, to be a good example to Asian and other governments that in word and in deed, it is, indeed, against enforced disappearance.

Finally, as the Aquino government must prove to be an exemplary government in Asia, it has to ensure that all mechanisms be made in place against enforced disappearance by abiding to international human rights standards concretely to be shown among other things, by its immediate signing and acceding to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Signed by:

MUGIYANTO                                                              MARY AILEEN BACALSO
Chairperson                                                                  Secretary-General

***

Darwin Mendiola
Philippine Project Coordinator
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
Mobile no. 0917.8968459
Office No. 490.7862

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[In the news] ‘No evidence of 84 HR violations during Aquino admin’ -ABS-CBNnews.com

‘No evidence of 84 HR violations during Aquino admin’

ABS-CBNnews.com
May 13, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – There is no evidence to substantiate 84 alleged human-rights violations (HRV) in the hands of government soldiers starting when President Benigno Aquino III took office, a military spokesman said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos said the military’s Human Rights Office (HRO) created a Board of Inquiry to look into the 84 complaints received earlier by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Not one has been substantiated so far, but the board is still investigating all 84 cases, he said.

“To address these circumstances, the AFP-HRO created a Board of Inquiry which was also replicated down to the battalion levels to conduct investigations that would validate the reports of the CHR,” said Burgos.

“The findings of the [board] revealed that all of the referred HRV cases tagging military personnel were only accusations and did not produce sufficient evidence against AFP soldiers,” added Burgos, citing the initial result of the probe.

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[In the news] Burgos abduction witness tags Baliaga in court, Army officer chokes when grilled about April 28 -InterAksyon.com

Burgos abduction witness tags Baliaga in court, Army officer chokes when grilled about April 28
InterAksyon.com
May 10, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Lt. Harry Baliaga, the Army officer implicated in the abduction of activist-farmer Jonas Burgos five years ago, was tagged in court Thursday morning by a restaurant worker as among the seven people he saw dragging away Burgos, who remains missing.

And, when the Court of Appeals justices grilled him as he sat as the first defense witness, Baliaga’s testimony stalled, and he wept briefly when they asked him to account for his whereabouts on April 28, 2007, the day Burgos was seized at the Hapag Kainan restaurant at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City, sources told InterAksyon.com of the court’s executive session.

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[From the web] A mother’s grief -INQUIRER.net

A mother’s grief.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 30, 2012

The mother of desaperacido Jonas Burgos marked over the weekend the fifth anniversary of his disappearance, but with scaled-down expectation of finding him still alive. In terms both poignant and bitter, Edita Burgos has virtually admitted that prospects have dimmed for her ever finding her son alive, so she has braced herself for the truth. “My standards have gone down through the years,” she said. “Whereas before, I’d say ‘Give him back to me alive and well, and let justice be served,’ now I just want to find out what really happened. Because if I find out the truth, I’ll also find him.”

Jonas is the son of Edita and the late journalist and publisher Jose Burgos Jr., who won the Press Freedom Hero Award from the International Press Institute in 2000. Since April 28, 2007, when Jonas, then a 37-year-old agriculturist, was seized allegedly by military agents in a Quezon City mall, the Burgos family has gone to court, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and even the United Nations seeking to hold the military accountable.

Jonas’ case is among several cases typical of the previous administration that became notorious for several unsolved disappearances and killings of dissidents, fostering a culture of impunity that derided human rights and the rule of law.

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[From the web] Jonas Burgos, 42 -INQUIRER.net

Jonas Burgos, 42.

By Patricia Evangelista, Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 28, 2012

I never knew Jonas Burgos, but I know his mother. Every reporter on my beat does. It’s hard to miss her, the checkered shirt, the small folding umbrella, the black purse with the envelopes stuffed with court papers. Her story has been told in documentaries and theater plays, her face is the face of the search for the lost. She has stood at attention behind the revolving cast of activists howling into protest megaphones, holding posters of her lost boy. Although I have yet to see her throw a tomato at a cardboard cutout or set fire to a grinning effigy, it’s possible that she has. Edith Burgos will do what is necessary to find the son she lost five years ago, and it is the reason she stood by a monument along Edsa yesterday, reminding the world that for as long as she lives, so does Jonas Burgos.

She does not like spotlights, she says. She is happiest standing in the shadow, sharpening pencils for would-be heroes, patting the heads of her frightened sons while their father conducted his written assault on the dictator’s palace. She stands when she must, as she did on the day Marcos’ men came to arrest Jose Burgos, We Forum publisher and father of her five children.

There is more white in her hair now than there was on the day I met her under the trees of the Burgos farm in San Miguel, Bulacan, near the grave of the husband she calls Joe. She was going to be a nun before she met him, she says, but he wrote her long letters and she fell in love in spite of herself, and in falling in love signed on to a lifetime as a soldier in Joe Burgos’ long crusade for freedom.

She stands now, this time for her son and the sons and daughters of many other mothers. She is there at court hearings, quiet beside the families of the lost. She weeps with the weeping and laughs with the laughing, she holds out coffee cups and press releases and takes tricycles to the Department of Justice. She gets on her knees to unlock tripod legs and hoists boom mikes when there is nobody left who can, and has been known to invite in sheepish young journalists who skulk outside her door during interview breaks, pretending not to smoke.

All my sons smoke,” she says, smiling. “I used to.”

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[From the web] 4th Year of Jonas’ Abduction -freejonasburgosmovement.blogspot.com

Please join us in a gathering tomorrow, 28 April, 3 pm at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Grounds as we mark the 4th year of the Jonas Burgos’ abduction. Allow us to thank you for your continued support and help us remind the government that we shall continue the search until my Jonas and other disappeared are returned to us.

EDITA BURGOS