By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Family of missing activist Jonas Burgos gathered today at the Commission of Human Rights in Quezon City to deplore his continuing disappearance 12 years since his abduction.
“It has been 12 years of constancy in the search for Jonas. No stone was left unturned, no information was ignored, Intervention of all possible agencies, personalities, and communities were sought. Commitment to the vows of love and fidelity to the ways of peace urged us on,” his mother Edita Burgos said.
Jonas was abducted on April 28, 2007 in a restaurant in a Quezon City mall. His family has been searching for him ever since.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling back in 2013 that Jonas was indeed a victim of enforced disappearance, a military official linked to his abduction was acquitted before a Quezon City trial court in 2017, saying that there was no sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove the guilt of the accused.
Another retired ranking military official, Eduardo Año is now a cabinet secretary under the present administration.
“Yet, we know that there is hope, for what is hidden to man’s eyes is revealed at the perfect time. Meanwhile… the family holds on to the just order of the Supreme Court: ‘Return Jonas to his family.’ And for as long as this order is not complied with, we hold the government accountable for Jonas’ fate,” Burgos added.
The Burgos family was joined by relatives of enforced disappearances and senatorial candidate and martial law survivor Neri Colmenares.
Under the present administration, Burgos said there is “less hope” that justice will be served for victims of enforced disappearance.
The mother of the missing activist was referring to recent moves of the Duterte administration to have the 625 names of victims of enforced disappearances before a United Nations body. This, she added, only “reveals their evil design to sweep under the rug, all the cases of enforced disappearance. As if their memories would be erased if they do this.”
“This is the height of insensitivity to the plight of the families of the victims. We, victims, need to rethink … what should we do with leaders of a government who are insensitive to the least, the last and the lost?” Burgos said.
Not easy for family
In her speech, Jonas’ wife Mary Ann said that the past 12 years has not been easy for her and their daughter.
It does not help, she added, that the government has “have gone through tremendous lengths of effort in conspiring and covering up every bit of truth of their crime against us and many others like us.”
Like Burgos, Mary Ann deplored the Duterte administration’s “concept of closure” as they “intend to officially / legally disappear completely the victims along with all of us, their families” before a UN body.
Mary Ann added, “I have but this to say…so long as we, the families of the desaparecidos, have our breaths, no one can stop us in our fight to surface our disappeared loved ones, for only when they are surfaced, when the whole truth is revealed to the public and the victims and their families given justice and the guilty punished, will there be closure.”