By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The junior Army officer implicated in the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos came to court today, May 31, without a counsel.
Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. told presiding Judge Alfonso Ruiz II of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 that his lawyer, Bumin Pasiwen, was not feeling well due to high blood pressure.
Jonas’s brother Jose Luis or JL Burgos was supposed to testify in court as the fifth prosecution witness. Earlier, however, the defense objected to JL Burgos taking the witness stand, saying that the former is not named in the list of witnesses.
Burgos’s lawyer Julian Oliva of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said there is no basis for the objection. He said both parties have been given the right to present additional witnesses for the trial. The prosecution filed a motion to allow JL to testify, April 22 but the prosecution has yet to file comment.
In today’s hearing, Ruiz gave the defense five days to file comment/opposition to the motion filed by the prosecution. After which, the motion is deemed submitted for resolution.
The next hearing is set August 16.
Baliaga was identified by an eyewitness as one of those who forcibly took Jonas while eating lunch at a mall on April 28, 2007. Charged with kidnapping, Baliaga was ordered arrested but was allowed to post bail amounting to P40,000 ($855).
Higher military officers implicated in the disappearance of Jonas have been exonerated by the Department of Justice in its resolution dated Sept. 2, 2013.