MANILA – Family, friends and supporters of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos gathered on Friday for a mass at the Parish for the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman on the eve of the 11th year of Burgos' disappearance.
In a speech, his mother, Edita Burgos, said the anguish of not knowing is one of the most difficult agonies she endured.
“One objective of the perpetrators of enforced disappearance is for those left behind to forget about the stolen life of the disappeared. They will never accomplish this objective in this family,” said Mrs. Burgos.
“We remember. And on this the 11th anniversary, we look at the person of Jonas… (a happy and gregarious son, practical jokester to friends, surrogate father to other people’s children, partner in crime to his brothers, teacher to his nieces and nephews, farmer lover, with a missionary spirit for the poor) and all these, we shall continue to emulate. His memory will live on.”
The Burgos family finds no relief in sight as they mark the 11th year of his disappearance tomorrow.
“The truth about his enforced disappearance authored by the military remains to be a mystery. Justice has been denied. Meanwhile the suspects in the case, all military officers, have been promoted, granted choice positions in government and the military hierarchy and enjoy the perks that go with their positions,” the family said in statement.
Jonas, one of the children of the late press freedom icon Joe Burgos, was allegedly abducted by the military at a restaurant in a mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007.
His abductors, led by Army Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr., used a vehicle with plate number TAB 194, later found to be in the custody of the Philippine Army's 56th Infantry Battalion.
“The case of Jonas is a clear example of why impunity and tyranny continue to afflict our society. The evidence established the guilt of the accused, and the court ruled accordingly … the case was won, but the battle was lost. Those accountable were not made to pay. Jonas has not been returned to his family,” said the family.
Last year, a local court cleared Baliaga of charges relating to Jonas’s disappearance.
The family said the ruling by the Supreme Court in 2013 ordering the military to produce Jonas Burgos was not complied with.
“We pray that the Lord would soften the hearts of the perpetrators…prick the consciences of those ‘who know’ and enlighten the minds of the executioners of the law. Return Jonas as ordered by the Supreme Court! Punish the guilty!” the family said.