CHR granted access to ‘Erap 5′ files in Burgos probe

In this file photo, Edith Burgos, mother of abducted activist Jonas Burgos, stands outside the national headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In this file photo, Edith Burgos, mother of abducted activist Jonas Burgos, stands outside the national headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Camille Diola | Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court allowed the Commission on Human Rights to scrutinize documents on the so-called “Erap Five” abduction case.

The magistrates said that one of the suspects in the abduction of Virgilio Eustaquio, Ruben Dionisio, Police Officer 3 Jose Justo Curameng, Jim Lucio Cabauatan and Dennis Ebona might be linked to the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos.

Eustaquio earlier claimed that among those who abducted his group of former President Joseph Estrada’s supporters in 2006 was an abductor of Burgos.

Burgos’ mother, Edita Burgos, was also ordered by the high court to provide the Department of Justice (DOJ) a confidential new evidence.

Mrs. Burgos said the sealed evidence refers to an operation launched by the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division and the 56th Infantry Battalion where Burgos was believed to have been kidnapped.

The court also ordered the DOJ to conduct another investigation on Burgos’ capture aided by the new evidence and Eustaquio’s affidavit.

Families of desaparecidos trooped to QC Hall of Justice, called on Maj. Harry Baliaga to spill the beans

November 12, 2013

Families of Desaparecidos for Justice today trooped to Quezon City Hall of Justice for the arraignment of the case against Maj. Harry Baliaga in relation to the abduction and disappearance of agriculturist Jonas Burgos.

Maj. Baliaga is the lone soldier charged with arbitrary detention while other military officials, specifically Gen. Eduardo Año, were dropped from the list of respondents and was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments as intelligence chief.

“We again call on Maj. Harry Baliaga to bare all that he knows about Jonas’s abduction and disappearance,” said Lorena Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos. “Spill the beans, soldier! Tell the court who else are involved in this crime,” Santos demanded. “We remind Maj. Baliaga that he faces a graver offense and punishment under the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act 2012,” Santos said.

Desaparecidos also reiterated its call to charge, arrest and punish Gen. Ano and the others who were originally charged, saying “high military officers used Baliaga to escape prosecution.”

“While we grieve for the lives lost brought by typhoon Yolanda, we cannot let this day pass without protesting how the government condones acts of people like Ano and Baliaga,” Lorena P. Santos, Desaparecidos secretary general said.

Meanwhile, Desaparecidos challenged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to comply with the recent decision of the Supreme Court on the Writ of Amparo petition for the disappearance of another activist James Balao. The Supreme Court ordered the heads of the AFP and PNP to “directly and personally” locate Balao. James, an indigenous people’s right advocate, disappeared in September 2008.

“The military will again make up countless excuses to cover up their sins and escape prosecution,” Santos said. “Expectedly, this case will again turn out to be just like the case of two missing University of the Philippine students where the military kept on postponing court hearings even as Gen. Jovito Palparan remains free.,” Santos said.

“The phenomenon of enforced disappearance is a man-made disaster that keeps on happening under this government, and the people guilty of such crime ought to be punished,” Santos ended. ###

Lorena “Aya” Santos, secretary general

Gen. Año, Gen. Palparan, Maj. Baliaga, and ex-Gov. Reyes real life monsters; calls on Aquino to surface Ben Villeno—Desaparecidos

News Release
2 November 2013

Chief of Intelligence Gen. Eduardo Año, Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan, “Maj. Harry Baliaga, ex-Gov. Joel Reyes and all those like them are the present-day real life monsters,”  Lorena “Aya” Santos, secretary general of Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) said in a program at the Baclaran Redemptorist Church.

“They abduct, torture, keep you away from your loved ones or kill you,” Santos said. “Unfortunately, despite their crimes these evil monsters are still out there hiding or pretending to be humans until their next victim,” Santos added.

Relatives and friends of the disappeared gather every 2nd of November to remember their missing loved ones. “We have no graves to visit for we never found the bodies of our relatives and friends, so we light candles here in Baclaran Church as our way of remembering them,” Santos said.

Gen. Eduardo Año, one of those charged for the abduction and disappearance of agriculturist Jonas Burgos was dropped from the charge list, along with other high military officials. Maj. Harry Baliaga, the only soldier who was charged for the abduction of Burgos had recently posted a P40,000 bail. Retired Gen. Palparan, implicated on the abduction and disappearance of two UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, remains a fugitive while, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, implicated in the killing of environmentalist Gerry Ortega, is also in hiding.

Desaparecidos recently called Baliaga’s bail as an escape from prosecution. “We are outraged to see that every single perpetrator of enforced disappearances are given shield to elude prison. Yet, it is even more enraging that apart from letting these monsters go free, BS Aquino promotes them in positions that empower them more,” Santos said.

“The latest victim of enforced disappearance is Ben Villeno, a long time trade union leader in Southern Tagalog,” Santos mentioned. Villeno, 43, was abducted on August 27, 2013 while on his way to a relative’s house in Cavite. He was able to send a text message to inform a colleague that he was being tailed. Villeno lost contact since then. Apparently, he did not reach his relative’s house and he remains missing to date.

Villeno experienced several incidents of harassments and surveillances even during the Arroyo regime. “But, it is under this current regime that boasts of  an Anti-Disappearance law that Villeno became a victim of enforced disappearance. It shows that BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan is just as brutal as Oplan Bantay Laya,” Santos continued. “The Aquino government should be held accountable especially now that Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law is in place.”

“Like many desaparecidos, we still hope that Villeno is alive,” Santos said. “We are calling on any person who may know his whereabouts to inform us or Villeno’s family immediately,” Santos said.

The group Desaparcidos called on the Aquino government and all those in-charge of detention places, declared or undeclared, to abide by their own law, the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Law. Desaparecidos also  demanded from the Aquino government to “Surface Ben Villeno and all desaparecidos! Stop enforced disappearances! Prosecute all perpetrators!” ###

Reference: Lorena “Aya” Santos, Secretary General, 0908-8121982