“Harry, listen to the innermost voice of your heart and correct the wrong done to this mother. Tell me where I can find my son.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA -– In an open letter, Edita Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, asks an Army junior officer to name who ordered the abduction of her son exactly four years ago today.
Mrs. Burgos’s letter, a copy of which was sent by Jonas’s brother JL to Bulatlat.com, is addressed to Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. who has been identified by two witnesses as one of those who took Jonas, the son of press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., on April 28, 2007, at a restaurant inside a Quezon City mall.
In a report dated March 16, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) recommended the filing of kidnapping charges against Baliaga who served as company commander of the 56th Infantry Battalion’s Bravo Company, 7th Infantry Division, based in Bulacan. The license plate of one of the vehicles used in Burgos’s abduction was traced to a vehicle under the custody of the Army battalion.
The CHR was tasked by the Supreme Court to investigate the abduction of Jonas. In its resolution, the high court noted that there were “significant lapses” in the police investigation. The Burgos family filed a petition seeking the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals denying their petition for writ of amparo and absolving police and military officials implicated in the Burgos case.
In the report signed by Commissioner Jose Mamauag, the CHR also asked the Supreme Court to direct Baliaga to produce Jonas.
“I am not afraid to face you. Truth is, I would really want to look at your eyes as I ask you, ‘Where is my son? What have you done to him?’ I want to see if the look you give me will deny or affirm your answer,” Mrs. Burgos tells Baliaga.
“Surely, logic tells me that you, in taking my son on that day, April 28, 2007 while he was having lunch, would not have acted on your own. Isn’t that how your system works? A superior orders his subordinates and a good soldier follows the order even if it is against the highest principle of life and freedom,” Mrs. Burgos says further. “Tell me now…now that there is a chance that soon you will be behind bars…do you still see following orders in the same perspective?”
On April 19, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima ordered Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to coordinate with the CHR and conduct a preliminary investigation on the commission’s findings.
De Lima directed the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) to coordinate with the CHR on the possible admission to the program of two witnesses in the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos.
“Tell me, who has ordered you to get my Jonas? Give those who ordered him taken the chance to correct their ways,” Mrs. Burgos says.
The CHR report also maintained that the abduction of Jonas is “not a simple case of kidnapping done by some individuals within the military, but is, in fact, a part of the entire counter-insurgency program of the past administration wherein both military and police forces played a crucial role in its enforcement.”
“Harry, listen to the innermost voice of your heart and correct the wrong done to this mother. Tell me where I can find my son. Do not wait when it is too late, when the consequences of an evil act will have been felt not only by you but by the next generations, for did He not promise “the sins of the father will be visited upon the heads of his children,” Mrs. Burgos says.