“I felt that while we had the documents with us, we were in constant danger. Somehow, I was relieved after I submitted these to the SC.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of missing activist, Jonas, hailed the recent order of the Supreme Court.
The high court ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to submit a “confidential report” on the location of soldiers identified in the new pieces of evidence submitted by Mrs. Burgos last April 1.
The SC ordered AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista to “ensure that these military personnel can be located and served with the processes that this court may serve, if any.”
“I am very happy. In issuing such order, the SC gave credence to the evidence we filed. They have seen the seriousness of the evidence,” Mrs. Burgos said in an interview with Bulatlat.com.
In her ex parte motion ex abundanti cautela (abundant caution), Mrs. Burgos submitted new pieces of evidence including the photograph of Jonas taken a day after he was abducted and documentary evidence such as After Apprehension Report, Psycho Social Processing Report, Autobiography of Jonas Burgos. Mrs. Burgos said these are all confidential reports on file with the Philippine Army.
“They [soldiers involved] will have to follow court orders,” Mrs. Burgos said: “Mabait pa nga ako. (I am still kind). At least, they will have their day in court. They did not give that to Jonas.”
The high court also issued a temporary protection order covering Mrs. Burgos and her immediate family. It ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation to provide protection for the Burgos family and to furnish a confidential memorandum on such security arrangements within five days after receiving the court resolution.
Mrs. Burgos said she is grateful to the Supreme court but said the family would have to decide whether to take the offer of protection or not.
“We might not be comfortable having close-in security,” Mrs. Burgos disclosed.
Mrs. Burgos revealed that she fears for her safety and her family especially when they got hold of the new pieces of evidence.
“I felt that while we had the documents with us, we were in constant danger,” Mrs. Burgos said. “Somehow, I was relieved after I submitted these to the SC.”
She said they waited for weeks to give time to the source of the information to do the necessary things and to consult with their lawyers.
The SC also ordered Bautista, former AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon, Lt. Harry Baliaga Jr. and the incumbent commanding officers of the Army and its 7th Infantry Division, as well as Lt. Col. Melquiades Felicano, commanding officer of the division’s 56th Infantry Battalion at the time of Jonas’s disappearance, to file their respective comments within 10 days.
Baliaga has been identified by witnesses in court as one of those who abducted Jonas.
In June 2011, Mrs. Burgos filed charges of kidnapping and possible murder against Baliaga, Feliciano and other military officials.
In a report, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the defense and military establishments will cooperate in finding the truth behind Jonas’ abduction.
Meanwhile, Bautista said the incident took place before the AFP implemented what it described as a more humane rights-oriented counter-insurgency program called “Oplan Bayanihan.
To this, Mrs. Burgos said: “They have been saying that from the start. Let us see.”
With regard to the DOJ-NBI investigation, Mrs. Burgos said they welcome all efforts that will help them find Jonas.
Jonas, son of press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., was abducted on April 28, 2007 in a restaurant at Ever Gotesco mall in Quezon City. The license plate of the vehicle used by the abductors was traced to the 56th IB of the Philippine Army.
In a ruling dated March 18, the Court of Appeals held the military accountable for the disappearance of Jonas and named Baliaga as responsible for the abduction.