Ten years after the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, perpetrators remain scot-free

“It has been ten (10) years and Jonas Burgos is still missing. Though cases have been filed, perpetrators have remained unpunished. From the Arroyo regime to the current administration, the disappearance of Jonas remains a continuing proof of the climate of impunity in our country. It will continue to be a stark reminder on the prevalent injustice and lack of accountability of State security forces responsible for rights abuses, and government negligence,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Jigs Clamor during a protest held outside the Department of National Defense (DND) on April 28, 2017 to mark the 10th anniversary of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.

 

  

Jonas Burgos, son of martial law activist and late press freedom fighter Jose Burgos, was abducted by military personnel and their agents on April 28, 2007, and has remained missing since.

It was only in 2011, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), after an order from the Supreme Court (SC) to investigate the case, submitted a report on March 15, 2011 which implicated 1st Lt. Harry Baliaga Jr. of the military’s 56th IBPA in the disappearance of Burgos. 

On June 9, 2011, Edita Burgos, mother of Jonas Burgos, filed a criminal case with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Baliaga, Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano, and then the Col. Eduardo Año. Año has been appointed as chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Army, 10th Infantry Division commander and Chief of Staff of the AFP, despite his involvement in the disappearance of Burgos. 

“We are outraged that these perpetrators are given higher positions instead of being put to jail where they belong. Regimes give them medals and accolades, despite crimes against the Filipino people,” said Clamor.

The Philippine government also enacted an Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law, or RA 10353 in 2012. Though considered a landmark legislation in Asia, no convictions have been made under the law. No arrests have also been made to make perpetrators of past cases accountable, and such a practice is still being used by State security forces against activists and members of progressive organizations. 

Karapatan has documented twenty nine (29) victims of enforced disappearances under the BS Aquino regime and two (2) have already been disappeared under the current Duterte administration. No one has been made to account for such incidents.

Clamor added that “despite such laws, State security forces still knowingly commit human rights violations with impunity. Past governments have done nothing to prosecute these violators, and instead have maintained an environment where rights can be easily disregarded.”

“Ten years after the incident and we continue to seek justice and to call for the military to surface Jonas Burgos and all desaparecidos. With the Philippine military continuing its fascist and mercenary tradition, it is an imperative for the Filipino people to organize, and to continuously condemn and resist such injustices," concluded Clamor.

 

 

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