April 1, 2013
MANILA, Philippines – After nearly six years of official denial by the military top brass, a photo of a newly apprehended – abducted is a more apt term- Jonas Burgos, filed with the Philippine Army by the military officers who took him as he lunched at a Quezon City Mall in April 2007, was obtained from reliable sources by InterAksyon.com.
The photo shows a forlorn-looking, apparently dazed Burgos, who was 37 at that time. He looked shaken, obviously the result of a violent struggle with the five men and one woman whom two witnesses said had dragged him away as he shouted “Aktibista lang ako! (I’m simply an activist).”
Police investigation, pushed relentlessly by his mother Edita – the wife of the late world press freedom icon Joe Burgos Jr. – led to a license plate on the vehicle used to haul him off. The license plate belonged to a utility vehicle that had been parked inside a military camp in Central Luzon, having been seized by authorities in connection with an illegal logging case.
The military claimed the license plate was supposedly stolen by communist rebels, whom it also blamed for abducting Burgos as part of a supposed internal purge. It consistently denied there was ever an operation to get the activist-farmer, whose disappearance marks its sixth year on April 28.
Edita Burgos, through lawyer Ricardo N. Fernandez, went to various local and international forums to search for her son. Most important, she sought a writ of amparo from the Supreme Court, which ordered the Court of Appeals to convene a special investigating panel.
Last March 27, the Court of Appeals report that concluded the over three-year inquiry was disclosed to the press. It ruled that the 2007 abduction of Jonas Burgos was a military-sanctioned case of enforced disappearance, and held the Philippine Army “accountable” for it.