15 July 2011
Reference: Mary Guy Portajada, Secretary General 09053233233
Desaparecidos to the AFP – Surface all victims of enforced Disappearance now!
The Families of the Disappeared for Justice or Desaparecidos today welcomed the Supreme Court decision ordering the Armed Forces of the
Philippines to surface Jonas Burgos and give reason for his continued detention.
“This is the second case, where the Supreme Court affirmed our belief that the AFP is responsible for the disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan,
Karen Empeño, Manuel Merino and Jonas Burgos,” Mary Guy Portajada, Desaparecidos Secretary General said. “We believe that the Armed
Forces of the Philippines is behind all human rights violations happening in the country, that is why we call on them to surface all victims of enforced disappearance now.” Portajada said.
She further stated that “The decision will only strengthen the criminal case the Burgos family filed before the Department of Justice.” On June 9, 2011, the Burgos family filed criminal charges against Maj. Harry Baliaga, the military officer identified by witnesses as part of the group of armed men who took Jonas Burgos inside a mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007.
The Supreme Court further ordered the reopening of the Habeas Corpus case and to include incumbent AFP officials – AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Eduardo Oban, Army Chief Maj. Gen.Arturo Ortiz and 56th Infantry Battalion Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano together with Maj. Baliaga as the principle respondents in the Habeas Corpus case for Jonas Burgos. However, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was dropped from the respondents’ list.
“While we applaud the SC decision to hold these key military officers in the Burgos case responsible, we still find that Gloria Arroyo as former Commander-in-Chief largely accountable not just for the disappearance of Jonas Burgos but for the rest of the 205 disappeared during her administration and all other human rights violations at that time.” Portajada stated. “If the higher court cannot bring her to Justice, then it should be the current President, President Noynoy who should act to hold her responsible and punish her for the human rights violations her regime inflicted on the Filipino people.”
The families of the disappeared also called on the President to end the same atrocities also happening in his administration. They pointed out that the military is still doing the same terror tactics under the current anti-insurgency program with the killing of 48 individuals and five victims of enforced disappearances. “He must stop Oplan Bayanihan now and end the suffering of the Filipino people. Stop the killings, end the disappearances and all other human rights violations.” Portajada concluded. ###