April 1, 2013
MANILA, Philippines – On the heels of a Court of Appeals ruling that the 2007 abduction of Jonas Burgos was a military-sanctioned case of enforced disappearance, the family of the activist-farmer returned to the Supreme Court Monday (April 1) morning asking it to direct the CA to conduct further hearings on “newly-discovered evidence.”
Jonas’s mother Edita Burgos said in an urgent ex-parte motion, filed through lawyer Ricardo N. Ferrer Jr., that she had recently received “documentary evidence that would prove that an intelligence unit of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the 56th Infantry Battalion operating together captured Jonas Burgos on April 28, 2007 at the Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.”
Such documentary evidence includes an After Apprehension Report; a Psycho Social Processing Report; and a purported Autobiography of Jonas Burgos — all part of “confidential” official reports on file with the Philippine Army.
Mrs. Burgos submitted to the SC such newly discovered evidence under seal, expressing “abundant caution” about her security and those of witnesses.
The SC filing comes four days after the Court of Appeals revealed the results of its nearly three-year inquiry, as directed by the Supreme Court, into the Burgos case, confirming it as an enforced disappearance covered by a writ of amparo, which Mrs. Burgos had sought earlier.
On Monday, in her latest motion, Mrs. Burgos recalled to the Supreme Court that in its Resolution dated July 5, 2011, it had required the submission of the complete list of the officers and men of the 56th IB, 69th IB, and 7th Infantry Division from June 2004 to June 2007. “The names in this new discovered evidence can be cross-checked and validated with the list already submitted” to the SC, Mrs. Burgos added.
Mrs. Burgos also asked the high tribunal to Court to “order the persons named in the sealed documents impleaded in CA-G.R. SP 00008-WA and G.R. No.183713, and to issue a writ of amparo on the same persons and refer back the cases to the same division of the Court of Appeals for further hearing and/or to issue such other orders in the interest of justice would be appropriate.”
In brief, added Mrs. Burgos, the “newly discovered evidence will prove that the officers and enlisted personnel of the particular unit of the 7th ID and the 56th IB are responsible for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos; that these units captured and interrogated him and based on the same evidence, could probably continue to detain him or God forbid, had disposed of him in the manner that only they could explain.
The Court of Appeals decision on the investigation that the SC had directed it to conduct was dated March 18, 2013 and revealed last March 27.
The dispositive portion of that decision:
• recognized “the abduction of Jonas Burgos as an enforced disappearance covered by the Rule on the Writ of Amparo”;
• declared “Maj. Harry A. Baliaga Jr. responsible for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos;
• declared the “Armed Forces of the Philippines and elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the Philippine Army, ACCOUNTABLE for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos;”
• declared the “Philippine National Police ACCOUNTABLE for the conduct of an exhaustive investigation of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos,” and directed the PNP through its investigative arm, the PNP-CIDG, “to exercise extraordinary diligence to identify and locate the abductors of Jonas Burgos who are still at large and to establish the link between the abductors of Jonas Burgos and those involved in the ERAP 5 incident.”
• directed the “incumbent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Director General of the Philippine National Police, and their successors, to ensure the continuance of their respective investigation and coordination on the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos until the persons found responsible therefor are brought before the bar of justice”;
• directed the Commission on Human Rights to continue with its own independent investigation on the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos with the same degree of diligence required under the Rule on the Writ of Amparo; and
• directed the AFP and PNP “to extend full assistance to the Commission on Human Rights in the conduct of the latter’s investigation.”
The CA also ordered the AFP Chief of Staff and PNP Director General, and the Commission on Human Rights chairman, to submit a quarterly report to the CA on the results of their respective investigations.
Likewise, the CA noted the filing of an affidavit-complaint by Mrs. Burgos against Maj. Harry A. Baliaga Jr., et al. before the Department of Justice on June 9, 2011, and directed her to “immediately inform this Court of any development regarding the outcome of that case.”