EDITH BURGOS’ Statement on the C.A. Ruling holding the Philippine Army accountable for the abduction of Jonas

March 27, 2013

Today. Holy Wednesday, the day our family traditionally made the Way of the Cross around the farm when Jonas’ father, Joe Burgos, was still with us, I have received news of the decision of the Court of Appeals on our petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus and the Writ of Amparo in relation to the disappearance of my son, Jonas Burgos. This Lent would have been a different observation because the family has decided to go home to my home province to be with my brother who is celebrating his 30th ordination anniversary. But as it is and as He wills it , the crosses can’t be left behind. We carry them and we live with them, and if for a moment we forget, we are reminded.

What a big reminder, this decision of the Court of Appeals. And just two days before Jonas’ 43rd birthday.

The decision reads among others “…declaring Major Harry Baliaga Jr. responsible for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, and … 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.”

The family thanks the Court of Appeals (All Glory to God) for its thorough and comprehensive appreciation of all the facts, testimonies and documents submitted to them in the course of the more than 4 years hearing. We will thank them through prayers.

We pray that the recognition by the court that the abduction of my son Jonas as an enforced disappearance and thus covered by the rule of the Writ of Amparo would result in the proper and concerned authorities to make available to us, all the documents they have on Jonas, make accessible to us all the officers who had anything to do with the abduction, or who had knowledge of the abduction and grant us access to camps and safe houses that could give us leads to the whereabouts of Jonas.

In short I earnestly pray that this decision would lead us to Jonas and to the names of those involved so that justice may (finally) be served. the ultimate measure of success is our recovery of Jonas.

I appeal to Major Harry Baliaga to cooperate with the courts. He is an enlisted person and must uphold the law. He has the opportunity to make things right by saying the whole truth. Here is a singular chance, perhaps from the Lord, to have the courage to reveal the details related to my son’s disappearance. The courage to say the truth is my prayer for all this Lent.

Thanks be to God.

Edita Burgos

Published at Interaksyon.com | ‘The courage to tell the truth is my prayer for all this Lent,’ EDITA BURGOS

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A Question

Protesters wear Jonas Burgos masks during a protest in Manila, August 2007. Photo by Candice Reyes

Candice Reyes | Facebook Note

President Benigno Aquino III should be more careful about what he says.

Editha Burgos, mother of activist Jonas Burgos who was abducted on April 2007 asks, “With Malacanang’s tough branding of human rights violations as leftist propaganda, are the authorities now saying that I will never see my son again?”

What does she mean by that question?

In an interview with Radio New Zealand last Tuesday (October 23) President Aquino was asked regarding the administration’s record on human rights abuses and his comment on groups that are critical of the government’s alleged inaction on the cases.

He cited the leftist groups to be “very good at propaganda.”

“Well, we won’t claim that there are no human rights issues within our country. But I think in the past two weeks, for instance, we’ve had a lot of abuses done on state agents. When they were enforcing, for instance, eviction notice on land issues, they were pelted with human waste and a lot of danger has happened to our people. Perhaps I keep saying that human right is for everybody. Not because you’re… a government employee that your rights are any less than any other citizens,” Aquino said in the interview.

That could be true but…

Why was there no mention of  what happened on the morning of October 18 (just last week) in Tampakan South Cotabato, when two-months pregnant Juvy Capion, wife of anti-mining Blaan tribe leader, was killed with their two children who are 8 and 13, whose bodies were dragged out of their hut with bullets on their heads… or was it “propaganda”? because allegedly, Armed Forces of the Philippines 27th Infantry Battalion happened to be at the scene?

What about Jonas Burgos’ case, Maguindanao massacre, and the hundreds of nameless faces who are victims of torture, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances?

In Burgos’ statement, she said, “To call this propaganda and to label it leftist is the height of insensitivity to a mother who continues to search for her missing son. I stand before the Lord, who is truth Himself, in witness of this truth.

Since 2007, together with families of “desaparecidos” (disappeared), the Burgos family has always been upfront with the military to surface Jonas.

“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 Malacanang. 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?” Burgos asked.

“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.”

A New Zealand-based group, Philippine Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), also reacted on Aquino’s statement. “It’s not only the “extreme left” who are critical of the unabated killings under your watch,”

They cited institutions like the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other organizations here and abroad who’ve also raised their concern on the continuing human rights abuses in the country.

Was the President just misinterpreted with the use of the word “propaganda”?

Or was it a way to deflect a rather confronting question?

Thoughtless words can pierce.

But it can be healed–if the question of the victim’s mother or father, sibling or child finally receives a truthful answer.

“Where is justice?”

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