June 9, 2011
Reference: Lorena P. Santos
Deputy Secretary General
Contact Numbers: +639175415133 or 024342837
Desaparecidos to Baliaga, Esperon et. Al: Face your charges and tell the truth.
“After seven series of filing of complaints, petitions and appeals to different courts, government institutions and international bodies in a span of four years, the Burgos family is now on their 8th filing in search for Jonas,” Lorena P. Santos, deputy Secretary General of Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) said. “How many more complaints do we have to file to surface the disappeared?” Santos decried.
The Burgos family led by Mrs. Edita T. Burgos, mother of Jonas and chairperson of Desaparecidos together with their lawyer Atty. Boyet Fernandez filed criminal charges against Major Harry A. Baliaga, Jr., Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano, Col. Eduardo Ano and several John and Jane Does for Arbitrary Detention while Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Gen. Romeo Tolentino, Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano and Gen. Avelino Razon were charged with Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders.
Joining them as the family filed before the Department of Justice, were Desaparecidos, Karapatan and other progressive peoples’ organizations who staged a picket in support for the call for justice for Jonas and other victims of enforced disappearance.
During the picket, Desaparecidos exhorted for the truth to be revealed “We urge all respondents to face the charges and tell the truth,” Santos said, “Tell the public and the court who ordered and approved Jonas’ abduction and what has happened to him,”
On March 15, 2011 the Commission on Human Rights, led by Commissioner Jose Manuel Mamauag, submitted a report on the abduction and disappearance of Jonas Burgos. The report revealed the names of Baliaga, Feliciano and Ano among others, as those involved in the abduction of Jonas. Then 2nd Lt. Harry Baliaga was recognized by a witness and was heard saying, “Wag kayong makialam kasi ang taong ito ay matagal na naming sinusubaybayan dahil sa droga.” (“Do not interfere because this man has long been under surveillance due to drugs.”)
In April, 2011 DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the filing of criminal charges against Baliaga, et.al. Today, armed with strong evidence against the alleged perpetrators, Mrs. Edita T. Burgos, a law abiding citizen of this country once again exhausted this legal means in her unending effort to look for her son.
Desaparecidos which has supported the Burgos family and other families of the disappeared have reiterated their commitment to continue with any legal or extra-legal action against perpetrators of abduction and enforced disappearances, especially against former President Gloria Arroyo and her military cohorts until justice is served the victims and their families. “We will not forget that notorious decade of GMA’s rule, nor will we allow her and her butcher generals to be absolved of their human rights violations against the Filipino people.” Santos said
Lack of legal remedies
Meanwhile, while the Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data have been introduced to arrest the increasing cases of disappearances and other human rights violations, the group Desaparecidos find these legal remedies lacking. “Not one of our missing love ones has been surfaced and not a single perpetrator prosecuted in court,” Santos lamented.
According to them, present court remedies are not enough until a law penalizing the crime of enforced disappearance is enacted. Families of victims of enforced disappearances, pushed for Congress to immediately enact the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill as their contribution in paving the way towards justice. ###