MANILA - The family of missing farmer-activist Jonas Burgos has not given up hope in finding him 14 years since suspected military agents snatched him while he was eating in a mall in Quezon City on April 28.
“Fourteen years have passed, justice is still elusive. Family and friends continue to suffer from the absence of Jonas. Yet we remain steadfast in our demand for justice and the return of Jonas. We remember and shall not forget as we continue to let Jonas live in our actions,” said the family in a statement.
Those behind Jonas’ enforced disappearance have failed in their attempts to erase his memory and his love for the poor, his family said.
They said the community pantry initiative that helps provide food to Filipinos in need amid the pandemic has brought back memories of Jonas. Like the initiative that continues to spread across the country, Jonas was sensitive to the difficulties of ordinary people and always wanted to find ways on how to help them.
The family remembered how he shared his harvest to fellow students and poor families around the Benguet State University where he was an agriculture student.
When a powerful earthquake struck on July 16, 1990, Jonas and his fellow students isolated in BSU put up a community kitchen for those trapped in the campus and ran out of food.
“If Jonas were here today, he too would be just as active and selfless as those who are now running community pantries,” said the family, adding he would do this despite fears of being profiled, labelled and later abducted.
“Based on the human rights record of this government, it is not farfetched. Even retired general Hermogenes Esperon said this about the organizers, “they were just being observed… we also like to look into possible participation of personalities…” this is the same general who refused to provide our lawyer with the provost marshal report about the abduction of Jonas, claiming it was just an administrative investigation,” they said.
The family claimed the said report, released a few days after the abduction, contained information that could have helped them find Jonas. But the family got hold of the report only through a court order years after, and “Jonas continues to remain missing.”
“The labelling or the red tagging cannot deter our response to “Love your neighbors as Christ loves you.” No matter if those who label, though schooled and aware, defy the 8th commandment. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” We have confidence, after all “I will pay they back,” says the Lord,” the family said.