After the Court of Appeals decision holding the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) responsible for Jonas Burgos’ enforced disappearance, President Aquino must remove from office and investigate top military officials implicated in the incident, according to Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.
“Other officials who were implicated in the Burgos enforced disappearance, particularly Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año, must also be investigated… After the Court of Appeals decision, President Noynoy must immediately sack and prosecute Año and other military officials involved in human rights violations,” Colmenares said in a statement.
Jonas’ mother Edita had protested the President’s appointment of Año as the chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP last December.
Año headed the intelligence operations of the Philippine Army when Jonas was abducted in 2007. Edita eventually filed a complaint against him and other military officials in the Department of Justice for her son’s disappearance.
Jonas, an agriculturist and the son of the late press freedom icon Jose Burgos, was taken by several men from a restaurant in a Quezon City mall on April 28, 2007 and has not been seen since.
Colmenares said others who should also be held accountable for Jonas’ disappearance include the Judge Advocate General’s Office that withheld the report on the case, the police who refused to conduct an investigation, the fiscals who refused to prosecute and others who did not act in pursuit of
He said the Court of Appeals ruling gave weight to the earlier findings of United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston that the military was responsible for the spate of extrajudicial killings of activists in the country. Alston had attributed the killings to the military’s operations against communist insurgents.
“I hope this will serve as a step forward towards the prosecution of those responsible for the thousands of victims of human rights violations and for justice to dawn upon the families who were left suffering for so many years,” the lawmaker added.
Colmenares also dared the Philippine Army to cooperate with the courts and to compel Maj. Harry Baliaga to face the complaints against him in relation to Burgos’ disappearance.
The appeals court said in its decision that the Philippine Army, as well as Baliaga, was responsible for Burgos’ disappearance. But even before the ruling came out, Edita already filed a criminal complaint against Baliaga and top armed forces officials before the Department of Justice.