Missing activist’s mom: Palace remarks ‘the height of insensitivity’

GIAN C. GERONIMO | GMA NEWS

October 25, 2012

Edita Burgos, the mother of still-missing activist Jonas, lashed out against the remarks of President Benigno Aquino III and Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda calling her family’s pleas for the return of her son “propaganda” for the leftist movement.

In a statement, Burgos said that since her son went missing, her family had become “admittedly vocal” in their plea for the military to produce her child, but the comments made by the Palace regarding their efforts were “the height of insensitivity.”

“With Malacañang’s tough branding of human rights violations as leftist propaganda, are the authorities now saying that I will never see my son again?” Burgos said.

The government has come under fire from progressive groups since Aquino and Lacierda issued statements criticizing the leftist movement.

Aquino, in a radio interview while in New Zealand, attacked the leftist movement while responding to issues of supposedly rampant human rights violations under his administration.

“So they are very good at propaganda but I think the record speaks for itself,” Aquino said.

He also mentioned a senatorial candidate fielded by the leftist community who was not performing well in surveys.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, who felt alluded to by Aquino’s remarks, retorted by saying Aquino won the presidency because of his parents’ legacy.

Lacierda, meanwhile, responded to Casiño by saying Aquino’s statements were about leftist propaganda in general.

“It’s not personal. It’s the propaganda that’s the problem,” he said in a Palace press briefing on Wednesday.

He also pointed out Casiño’s low survey ratings as an indication of leftist propaganda.

“That he hasn’t [performed well in the surveys] was proof that the public do not listen to him,” he said.

Casiño, meanwhile, took to social media in responding to Lacierda, saying Lacierda and Aquino’s statements smack of insensitivity.

“My reply to Sec. Lacierda: It’s nothing personal? Don’t worry about me, I can shrug off [the] President’s insults anytime, but to dismiss [the] plight of human rights victims and their families as mere propaganda IS personal, painful & dangerous,” Casiño said on social networking site Twitter.

Meanwhile, Burgos questioned the Palace’s remarks on human rights violations and the leftist movement, and asked if it will be considered “a leftist act” for the families of victims of enforced disappearances to look for their kin.

“Now, when you are looking for a missing loved one, is it justified to label you as leftist? Unless the definition has been changed, I would not subscribe to what has been officially said by Malacañang,” Burgos said.

“To seek justice and to right a wrong done to families who have been victims of enforced disappearances, will that be considered a leftist act?”

Jonas was abducted on April 28, 2007, allegedly by military personnel, while he was having lunch at a restaurant inside the Ever Gotesco Mall in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

His disappearance was during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose administration was riddled with accusations of furthering enforced disappearances and human rights violations.

Burgos noted Aquino’s approval of the promotion of Col. Eduardo Año to the post of Brigadier General. Año is a respondent in the criminal case Burgos filed in June last year with the Department of Justice.

“Today, I fear that the message relayed in such blatant act by authorities can be a justification for human rights violators to continue their abuses,” Burgos said. — BM, GMA News

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