Aquino must order AFP to disclose truth about Jonas

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News Release | Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
April 1, 2013

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today  called on President Benigno Aquino III to order the Armed Forces of the Philippines to disclose all relevant information on the abduction of Jonas Burgos, regardless of the negative impact it will have on the AFP.

The challenge came a day after the family of Jonas filed an ex parte motion before the Supreme Court based on newly discovered evidence that the military was indeed involved in the abduction of Jonas. Edith Burgos, mother of Jonas, submitted to the High Court a sealed envelope containing what she described as AFP records of Jonas abduction, including an after-apprehension report, names of the operatives who carried out the abduction, a photo of Jonas while in custody, a psycho-social report and a “biography” of Jonas.

The Court of Appeals, in a ruling last month, also found the AFP and its official, Major Harry Baliaga, accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas.

“There is a renewed clamor for the AFP to surface Jonas and to reveal all information related to his abduction. As commander-in-chief, it is the duty of Aquino to ensure that the AFP cooperates fully with the courts and other institutions. Aquino’s silence or lack of interest can mean that he is tolerating the cover-up. So far the statement made by the AFP spokesman– that the AFP will cooperate–sounds more like an April Fool’s joke than a declaration of policy,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Aquino must give clear and firm instructions to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista to fully disclose all information on the abduction of Jonas . The AFP can do this even without any court order. The AFP cannot feign ignorance. The AFP must reveal the truth. Already, there is new evidence coming to light pointing to the involvement of the military,” he added.

Bayan said that for the past five years, the AFP has not done much in terms of revealing the truth, preferring instead to cover up the tracks of the perpetrators. The Burgos family and human rights groups such as Karapatan have done their own investigation into the abduction minus any help or cooperation from the AFP leadership.

“There is no doubt in the minds of the court, and in the minds of the public, that the AFP is involved in the abduction. The big question is, when will the AFP finally reveal the truth about the fate of Jonas? Where is Jonas?” Reyes said.

“On this matter, the President must impress on the entire AFP leadership, that it is now time to come clean. It is time to end the cover-up. More than the sorties of the Liberal Party, this matter deserves the utmost attention of the President,” Reyes added. ###

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