Families of Desaparecidos for Justice today trooped to Quezon City Hall of Justice for the arraignment of the case against Maj. Harry Baliaga in relation to the abduction and disappearance of agriculturist Jonas Burgos.
Maj. Baliaga is the lone soldier charged with arbitrary detention while other military officials, specifically Gen. Eduardo Año, were dropped from the list of respondents and was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments as intelligence chief.
“We again call on Maj. Harry Baliaga to bare all that he knows about Jonas’s abduction and disappearance,” said Lorena Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos. “Spill the beans, soldier! Tell the court who else are involved in this crime,” Santos demanded. “We remind Maj. Baliaga that he faces a graver offense and punishment under the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act 2012,” Santos said.
Desaparecidos also reiterated its call to charge, arrest and punish Gen. Ano and the others who were originally charged, saying “high military officers used Baliaga to escape prosecution.”
“While we grieve for the lives lost brought by typhoon Yolanda, we cannot let this day pass without protesting how the government condones acts of people like Ano and Baliaga,” Lorena P. Santos, Desaparecidos secretary general said.
Meanwhile, Desaparecidos challenged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to comply with the recent decision of the Supreme Court on the Writ of Amparo petition for the disappearance of another activist James Balao. The Supreme Court ordered the heads of the AFP and PNP to “directly and personally” locate Balao. James, an indigenous people’s right advocate, disappeared in September 2008.
“The military will again make up countless excuses to cover up their sins and escape prosecution,” Santos said. “Expectedly, this case will again turn out to be just like the case of two missing University of the Philippine students where the military kept on postponing court hearings even as Gen. Jovito Palparan remains free.,” Santos said.
“The phenomenon of enforced disappearance is a man-made disaster that keeps on happening under this government, and the people guilty of such crime ought to be punished,” Santos ended. ###
Reference: Lorena “Aya” Santos, secretary general 09088121982