MANILA, Philippines - Edita Burgos, the mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, said President Benigno Aquino III’s insensitive remarks could further justify human rights violations in the country.
In fact, she now fears she will not see her son again.
In an interview in Auckland, New Zealand yesterday, Aquino slammed leftists and said they are only good in propaganda. Aquino was reacting to a question from a New Zealand-based reporter in connection with groups criticizing his alleged inaction on human rights violations.
"So they are very good at propaganda but I think the record speaks for itself," he said.
Burgos said, however, “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?
“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,” she said.
She added she and her family are very vocal of their plea for the military to produce Jonas, a stance she has maintained ever since her son went missing.
“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.
She noted that Aquino even recently approved the promotion of several military officials, including Col. Eduardo Año who was made Brigadier General. Año is one of the respondents in the case of Jonas.
“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,” she said.
Not just militants
A group based in New Zealand also slammed Aquino for his statements.
“The United Nations Special Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, World Council of Churches and other reputable institutions and various individuals have raised concern on the continuing human rights abuses under more than two years of the Aquino presidency. It’s not only the ‘extreme left’ who are critical of unabated killings under your watch,” said Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa secretary Murray Horton.
He said these agencies will continue to monitor Aquino’s performance amid the rising cases of human rights violations.
“It better take steps to truly deliver justice for the human rights victims and refrain from red-baiting in vain attempt to cover up its failure to end impunity,” he said.