Soldiers, cops face charges for Jonas Burgos disappearance

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 09 2011 05:59 PM | Updated as of Jun 10 2011 01:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The mother of missing farmer activist Jonas Burgos filed a case of arbitrary detention and obstruction of justice Thursday before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against officers of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in connection with her son's disappearance.

Named as respondents in the complaint filed by Edita Burgos are Major Harry Baliaga, Jr., Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano and Col. Eduardo Ano for arbitrary detention; while former Armed Forces chiefs Hermogenes Esperon and Alexander Yano, retired army general Romeo Tolentino, and former PNP chief Avelino Razon, Jr. were charged for obstruction of justice.

Burgos' complaint cited a report of the Commission on Human Rights(CHR) last March 15 where a witness identified Baliaga as one of Jonas' abductors on April 28, 2007.

Feliciano was Baliaga's commanding officer at the time in the 56th Army Infantry Battation (IB) based in Bulacan, while Ano was then head of the Intelligence Security Group.

"Through the filing of this case, we hope to be a step closer to finding my son, and ultimately, attaining justice. It pains us that the process is slow, but we shall continue until Jonas is returned to us," Mrs. Burgos said.

Respondents have yet to receive copies of the complaint.

Burgos was snatched at a Quezon City mall restaurant and dragged into a van, the license plates of which were later traced to a vehicle impounded by the military in the province of Bulacan.

Mrs. Burgos, in a letter to Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, said entities who are supposed to uphold and implement the law "failed and deliberately refused" to solve his son's case.

"...while we diligently followed the 'correct' process in a land where the rule of law is supposed to prevail, even as I and my family endured the daily torture of wondering what has happened to Jonas, where he is now and what he must be undergoing, the implementers of the law who investigated my son's disappearance not only failed in their sworn duty to implement the law, but worse and obviously, deliberately refused to uncover the facts," she said.

Mrs. Burgos filed an information with the CHR in May 2007; a complaint with the Quezon City police in June 2007; a complaint with the NCR-CIDG office in July 2007; and a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the Supreme Court, which granted a Writ of Amparo.

In June 2010, the high court ordered the CHR to investigate Burgos' enforced disappearance, and in March 2011, the CHR submitted its detailed report.