“There is hope that other perpetrators would be identified.” — Mrs. Edita Burgos
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos , remains hopeful that the recent Supreme Court (SC) decision would lead her to her son.
On Feb. 4, the high court directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into the evidence submitted by Mrs. Edita Burgos in April 2013 and file appropriate charges against “proper parties if such action is warranted by evidence.”
The evidence under seal would prove the military’s role in the abduction of Jonas on April 28, 2007, Mrs. Burgos deemed. These include After Apprehension Report, Psycho Social Processing Report, Autobiography of Jonas Burgos that, according to the family, are all copies of confidential official reports on file with the Philippine Army. Mrs. Burgos submitted all of these documents when she filed an urgent exparte motion ex abundante cautela.
The high court denied Mrs. Burgos’s petition, saying “the beneficial purpose of the writ of amparo had already been served.” The high court also noted that the procedural steps that it had ordered “had already resulted in the identification of the entities responsible and accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas.”
In its March 18, 2013, the Court of Appeals (CA) recognized that the abduction of Jonas almost six years ago is a case of enforced disappearance and declared that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is accountable for the crime. The court further said that Army Major Harry Baliaga Jr. is responsible for the abduction.
“This [SC decision] is both positive and negative,” Mrs. Burgos told Bulatlat.com in a phone interview. “While the persons identified in the evidence have not been impleaded, as we had hoped, an investigation has been ordered.”
The high court granted her access to documents of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) related to the 2006 abduction of five supporters of deposed president Joseph Estrada or the so-called Erap 5. In its earlier investigation, the CHR uncovered a lead that one of the abductors of Jonas appearing in cartographic sketch was among those who seized the Erap 5. In granting Mrs. Burgos’s request, the high court noted that “this lead may help the CHR ascertain the identities depicted in the cartographic sketches, who to this day, remain unidentified.”
The SC directed its own clerk of court to allow CHR representatives to “inspect the requested documents in camera.” It also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to coordinate and provide assistance to the CHR.
“There is hope that other perpetrators would be identified,” Mrs. Burgos said.
Asked to comment on the SC order referring the case to the DOJ, Mrs. Burgos admitted, “I really don’t know how to take it. I want to believe there is hope. What the DOJ will do about it remains to be seen.”
In its September 3, 2013 decision, the DOJ ordered the filing of charges of arbitrary detention against Baliaga but dismissed the charges against the latter’s commanding officers.
Mrs. Burgos also feared for the safety of her family. “With more agencies, more people having access to the evidence, I am concerned with our security.”