Tag Archives: jonas burgos disappearance

[From the web] 12th Year Anniversary of Jonas Burgos: AFP, Comply with the Supreme Court Order! -AFAD

Manila: The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) remembers Jonas Burgos who was forcibly disappeared on the 28th of April 2007 while he was having his lunch at the Hapag Kainan restaurant in Ever Gotesco Mall, Quezon City. The perpetrators are personnel of the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP).

Jonas was a farmer and activist who worked tirelessly for upholding the rights of the farmers. He was a dedicated father, husband and son. He was targeted for supporting the rights of the farmers. It has been 12 years since Jonas Burgos was disappeared. During those years, all legal and parallel remedies were availed of and the petition for the writs of habeas corpus and amparo were filed and were granted by the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC). After 6 long years of waiting, the SC affirmed the March 27, 2013 resolution of the Court of Appeals, which ruled that military officers of the AFP took Jonas Joseph Burgos on April 28, 2007. The case has also established that Jonas is a victim of enforced disappearance and noted the serious gaps in the police investigations. Thus, the Court ordered the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to reinvestigate the case, taking it away from the police investigation agencies.

Although the case was won, Jonas has not yet returned and his family continues to suffer the pain and injustice. AFP has not complied as ordered and to date, no one has been cited in contempt. At this point, the Court has gone silent and justice has once again been denied from Jonas and his family. This case highlights the problem of impunity that the country is facing.

In this light, AFAD urges the Armed Forces of the Philippines, its guilty officers, and the suspects in the abduction, to comply with the Court’s order and to be accountable for the socio-economic and psychological damages that they have caused to the family of Jonas Burgos. It is a fact that those suspected officers involved have been promoted to higher ranks, given choice positions in the government and are now enjoying additional benefits from the government. Some have even been assigned in regions where cases of enforced disappearance proliferate. These government actions should not be tolerated.

In the light of the case of Jonas Burgos and many other unresolved cases of enforce disappearances, AFAD strongly calls for the full implementation of the Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012. Moreover, it reiterates its call on the Philippine Government to accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to recognize the competence of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

For 12 agonizing years, Jonas’ family has been enduring the consequences of a disappeared loved one – a son, brother, father, protector, and breadwinner. Impunity continues in the Philippines because no one is held accountable for enforced disappearances. AFAD calls for justice to be served in due process. AFAD, together with the Burgos family, will continue to seek for truth and justice. Justice will be served and will prevail in the end!

Signed by:

KHURRAM PARVEZ
Chairperson

MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Secretary-General

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[Statement] 11TH Anniversary of Jonas Burgos’ Abduction -Free Jonas Burgos Movement

STATEMENT: 11TH Anniversary of Jonas Burgos’ Abduction

Photo from Free Jonas Burgos Movement FB

The Supreme Court affirming the March 27, 2013 resolution of the Court of Appeals ruled that the Philippine Army of the Armed Forces of the Philippines took Jonas Joseph Burgos on April 28, 2007, establishing that Jonas is a victim of enforced disappearance. He was alone, unarmed and having his lunch when Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. along with 3 men and a woman, dragged him out of the Hapag Kainan Restaurant of the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City, according to the same document of the Supreme Court. An order by the Court for the military to produce Jonas was not complied with and to this day, nobody has been cited in contempt.

Eleven years after the abduction Jonas remains to be missing. The truth about his enforced disappearance authored by the military remains to be a mystery. Justice has been denied. Meanwhile the suspects in the case, all military officers, have been promoted, granted choice positions in government and the military hierarchy and enjoy the perks that go with their positions. It is not a surprise to read news stories that report that some of the suspected abductors are now assigned in areas where there are many cases of enforced disappearances.

For eleven years Jonas’ family endured the consequences of a missing breadwinner, protector, brother, son. No relief is in sight… for now.

Unless and until the authorities realize that the only way to earn the complete confidence of the people in government sincerity, to completely implement the law, the first step of which is to clean the ranks of the military and weed out the undesirables.

The case of Jonas is a clear example of why impunity and tyranny continue to afflict our society. The evidence established the guilt of the accused, and the court ruled accordingly … the case was won, but the battle was lost. Those accountable were not made to pay. Jonas has not been returned to his family.

For eleven years, family and friends tried all peaceful avenues purportedly available in a democratic society.

There has been no dearth in fidelity, nor of persistence and tenacity among members of the family, nor has there been any shortage of generous hearts and souls, volunteers and pro bono services in all the arcs and bends, man-made ruts and pits and heaps and mounds of the sometimes agonizing, sometimes dangerous path of the search for Jonas. At every turn, family and friends were constantly accompanied by prayers, so much so that the phrase ‘God’s providence’ was so genuinely felt. When someone in the family would falter, a Simon of Cyrene and a Veronica are sent our way.

So what else is left? ‘Missing eleven years’ is unacceptable. We pray that the Lord would soften the hearts of the perpetrators… prick the consciences of those ‘who know’ and enlighten the minds of the executioners of the law.

Return Jonas as ordered by the Supreme Court! Punish the guilty!

Source: Free Jonas Burgos Movement

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[Statement] Human Rights are Central Issues of the May 13 Midterm Elections -AFAD

Human Rights are Central Issues of the May 13 Midterm Elections

AFADAs the Filipino nation prepares to head to the polls on 13 May midterm elections, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) calls on the Filipino electorate to vote for candidates who may not yet have clear human rights agenda but have shown firm commitments to promote and respect human rights especially before and during the elections.

We all know that the Philippines holds a notorious reputation for having dirty and violent elections in the past, painfully exhibited, among many others, by the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, in which 58 people were killed including 34 mediamen and one disappeared.

Gross human rights violations such as enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture continue to mar the country even under the current Aquino administration. The Jonas Burgos disappearance case gaining legal grounds in the discovery of new documentary evidence against the military is one of the issues needing policy considerations and, therefore must be addressed by all political parties and candidates through their political platfroms. All stakeholders must ensure that human rights are respected during the elections. The reports of election-related incidents of violence and deaths, albeit lower than those during previous elections, are still alarming and too high a price to take. There are fears that these would escalate in the run up to the election day.

While we recognize the efforts of the Philippine government, particularly the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), to address the continuing election violence that has apparently become a permanent feature of the Philippine elections, it needs to take more stringent steps to make sure that the upcoming midterm elections will be safer and fairer.

We therefore, challenge all political parties and candidates to make the elections as venues for publicly pronouncing their human rights agenda. One test of their commitment to human rights is their concrete contribution to peaceful elections. If elected, they must prove to their constituents their human rights commitments by fully implementing pieces of human rights legislation such as, but not limited to the Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced Disappearance law of 2012 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations. AFAD particularly calls on future government officials to help us convince the Philippine government to comply with international human rights standards specifically by signing and ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

We call on the media to effectively play its vital role as the eyes, ears and voices of the public through their impartial election coverage. The media must help make the election an opportunity for the people to make a stand on various election issues.

The upcoming polls are crucial in shaping the future of this country. The respect for human rights during the elections is essential not only for the political stability of the country but also for social and economic development. The midterm elections must not only guarantee meaningful participation of the Filipino people but it also must ensure an enabling climate in which the Filipino people can participate freely in the electoral process without fear of being victimized by human rights violations.

The May 13 midterm elections are keys for the Aquino government to prove that its “matuwid na daan” is indeed a road towards a lasting peace and unity for this country, and not a road that leads to more injustices and human rights violations.

AFAD Statement
11 May 2013
Signed by:

MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Secretary-General

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[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] How the military hid the truth behind Jonas Burgos abduction -bulatlat.com

How the military hid the truth behind Jonas Burgos abduction
By RONALYN V. OLEA, Bulatlat.com

bulatlatMANILA – Following the recent developments on the case of missing activist Jonas Burgos, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it would submit to the legal processes.

The Special 7th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a ruling holding the AFP accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos. Also this week, the victim’s family filed an urgent motion before the Supreme Court (SC) urging the re-investigation of the case.

“The AFP condemns any act of violation of the basic and constitutional rights of individuals. We are doing every necessary step to ensure that all our personnel strictly follow the AFP rules, regulations and policy which are consistent with the internationally accepted agreements and laws,” the AFP said in a statement.

The Jonas Burgos case itself, however, is a testimony to what the family calls “institutional cover-up” of the military in cases of human rights violations.

Read full article @bulatlat.com

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[In the news] Edita Burgos: I just want to know the truth about my son -INQUIRER.net

Edita Burgos: I just want to know the truth about my son.

By TJ Burgonio, Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 27, 2012

Throughout the five years that she has been searching for her “disappeared” son, Edita Burgos says she has already scaled down her expectations, from calling for justice to just wanting to find out the truth about what happened to him.

“My standards have gone down through the years. 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,” she said.

“It’s not even closure that I want. I just want to know what I’ll pray for,” she added.

Family and friends who will be joining Edita in marking the fifth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance on Saturday are nowhere near finding the truth of what happened to him, his whereabouts or of obtaining justice for him.

Jonas is the middle son of Edita and the late Jose Burgos Jr., the legendary founder and editor of the Malaya newspaper.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net