De Lima: ‘We’ll finally learn Jonas’ fate’

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“Where is he? Is he still alive?”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday the inquiry to be conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on orders of President Benigno Aquino III would determine the answers to these questions nearly five years after activist Jonas Burgos, son of the late press freedom icon Joe Burgos, disappeared.

“This time around, the people and Ms Burgos can be optimistic that because the NBI investigation has the presidential imprimatur … there is a big chance  we will know what really happened to Jonas and who can be held accountable,” she said.

But first, De Lima said, the NBI would have to look at the purported new and explosive evidence that Edita Burgos, mother of the missing agriculturist, submitted on Monday to the Supreme Court in a petition seeking the prosecution of officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines allegedly involved in the disappearance.

“If there are new names there, they should be investigated,” De Lima told reporters. “We are looking forward to the new evidence. We want to see it, and if we do, then the NBI should focus its probe there.”

Edita Burgos has declined to disclose details of the new evidence purportedly consisting of confidential AFP documents, saying it was up to the Supreme Court to decide if this should be released to the public.

Unidentified men seized the young Burgos at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007. He was 36 years old then and was actively engaged in promoting organic farming in Bulacan.

Edita Burgos said earlier she had seen military documents listing her son in an “order of battle” of communist guerrillas and that alongside his name was the word “neutralized.”

De Lima said President Aquino was “very very curious” and “very very concerned about knowing the truth” in the  case of Jonas, whose father was detained several times during the martial law years for publishing newspapers critical of President Ferdinand Marcos.

On Wednesday, Mr. Aquino directed the NBI to conduct a “focused, dedicated and exhaustive” investigation of the abduction after the Court of Appeals on March 18 ruled that it was a case of enforced disappearance and held that Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. and other elements of the Philippine Army were responsible.

In her petition on Monday, Edita Burgos said that she had AFP documents showing that intelligence units of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division and 56th Infantry Battalion were responsible for the disappearance of her son.

NBI begins probe

Speaking to reporters, De Lima said NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas had formed a team of lawyers and field investigators to handle the investigation.

She said the team was now looking at documentary evidence so far gathered by the Commission on Human Rights, the AFP and the Philippine National Police. She said the team will also look into the purported new evidence that Edita Burgos had submitted to the high court.

Part of the mandate of the NBI team was to locate Jonas Burgos, De Lima said. “It’s only when we know what really happened to him will we know, hopefully, where he is,” she said.

According to De Lima, President Aquino wanted the investigation to be completed soon “but without sacrificing the quality of the work, without sacrificing the truth and like Ms Burgos has said, there should be no stone left unturned in this investigation.”

She said the result of the NBI investigation could possibly be included in the preliminary investigation that the Department of Justice conducted in 2011 on the case, which was now up for resolution.

De Lima noted that the PNP investigation showed that Jonas Burgos was abducted allegedly by the New People’s Army as part of its “purging” of its members. She said this finding was discredited by the Commission on Human Rights and the Court of Appeals.

Answered prayer

In a telephone interview on Thursday, Edita Burgos welcomed Mr. Aquino’s directive to the NBI.

“If it came sooner, Jonas would have been found sooner. The authorities would have acted sooner. But there’s nothing that you can gain from looking back,” she said. “I’m very happy and grateful. That’s an answered prayer. When the President gives that order, I’m sure that they’ll do the investigation properly.”

Edita sounded disturbed by PNP Director General Alan Purisima’s statement questioning the Court of Appeals ruling.

“This is something that alarms me. He said the decision is a fruit of imagination. With a statement like that, he doesn’t seem to have any trust in the system.  What message is he sending to us?” she said. “Their bias is showing. They shouldn’t be the ones investigating.”

Purisima on Tuesday said the ruling was based on the testimony of a lone witness. “Was it a product of imagination? If there’s one person making a claim, would that be necessarily correct? There should be corroboration from other witnesses,” Purisima had said.

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  • tra6Gpeche

    Secretary Leila de Lima, you are the best! I admire your courage and faithfulness to your service to the country. May you be emulated by your peers! I salute you!

  • Isagani Gatmaitan

    Like North Korea’s posturings, the Jonas Burgos case may spiral out of control. The civilian control over the Philippine military is tenuous at best. The fact that Palparan is still on the lam is indicative. The military intelligence “apparatchik”, in their narrow risk/benefit analysis, honestly believe that political assassinations will end the insurgency faster. “Pro Patria”, has been used as an excuse for “disappearances” and… power grabs.

    • muddygoose

      I’m curious. Does the left also resort to assassinations?

  • Max Tandan

    General Purisima thinks his intellect is superior to that of the justices of the Court of Appeals, I believe he’s scared when the truth comes, and he will eat the words he vomits.

    • http://www.dafk.net/what/ Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

      “General Purisima thinks his intellect is superior to that of the justices of the Court of Appeals, I believe he’s scared when the truth comes, and he will eat the words he vomits.”

      How can he be scared kung ang AFP ang ‘alleged’ na nang kidnap.

      Ang PHP ay di na part ng AFP.

      So I would say his opinion would that be of someone totally not interested in the case, other than to investigate it, which is NO longer the case kasi NBI ang humahawak.

  • Paulstronghold

    My God, are we too naive not to understand Burgos is a victim of ideological clashes between leftist and the military? Formal investigation may help but how can the family of Burgos fight the whole system of this government where all types of machination are being employed even using “good justice” system of the country’s higher echelon but in essence its operation is geared on the total elimination of left leanings and/or communists sympathizers of this country. Its mandated in the military blueprint that the Reds is the enemy of the state and therefore must be adequately contained. The geo-political environment at present will never bring justice to the Burgos.

  • Philip

    is he a member of NPA? if YES, which i know positively, the he deserved it. i hope he is burning in hell now.

  • Philip

    Im very disappointed with Palparan. Bakit di mo inubos ang mga NPA sa Mindoro? We miss u there.

  • tanga_hanga_ni_abnoy

    no to communism..go to hell

  • inquirercet

    left or right, all sectors of society has the right to voice their opinion. mr. anderson thinks some people deserve to die – this kind of thinking is what leads to genocides. there is no place for these kinds of military operations in a modern society. i am no saying that jonas was an npa but even rebels deserves due process – yes, even if they do not reciprocate the sentiment, even if they chop off the heads of brave soldiers. justice is for all people.

    • http://www.dafk.net/what/ Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

      Agreed. I may not like it but I have to agree.

    • Twister12

      You’re right but let’s say one of your families was a victim of NPA atrocities, could you really say the same thing?

      • inquirercet

        it’s a difficult question to answer twister, but we have to see it both ways. npa families have also suffered a lot from military atrocities. we have to stop the cycle of violence first and foremost. the solution to that is proper dispensation of justice not revenge tactics. my family has not suffered any form of atrocity from any party, but being emotionally invested in policy crafting is the wrong way to go.

      • Ultimate Voter’s Test!

        i salute your response. so civil…

      • Twister12

        Agreed. Any sane person will say what u have just said but we are living in an imperfect world. The question is how to stop the violence & the abuses first. Surely not the military when these subversives are still around bleeding the hapless farmers from their hard earned money for their so called revolutionary taxes. All I’m saying is it’s easy for us to preach tolerance if these things doesn’t happen to us. Indeed we have to see it both ways.

  • $44479964

    This Purisima should be cited in contempt by the court.

  • $16638896

    imbestigahan nyo din ang mga kupal na npa, bka sila ang nagbaon sa lupa kay jonas.

  • wakats

    WTF!!! no presidential imprimatur – no proper investigation????

    De lima should be careful with her choice of words as it shows how our government is run – a painful fact for ordinary people.

    The military’s order of battle is similar to FBI’s most wanted persons, like bin laden. If you’re listed, it means you’re considered an enemy of the state….

  • m1600

    Last holy week a former NPA rebel was assasinated in VIRAC CATANDUANES by his former comrades not satisfied they also mowed down his wife with automatic FIRE (M-14) A gun shots in her womb she was SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT AT THAT TIME, KILLING HER UNBORN CHILD WHERE BULLETS FROM M-14 RIFLE SHATTERED THE UNBORN BODY.

    NOW TELL ME DELIMA AND SIMEON WHERE IS JUSTICE TO THE VICTIMS OF CPP/NPA ATROCITIES???

  • padrefaura

    basta talaga praise release, at publicity stints, hindi paiiwan si de lima. bakit ngayon ka lang gumalaw? porket ba ngayon lang naglabas ang CA ng desisyon? dapat noon pa yan. obviously sinasakyan nya lang ang isyu.

  • Junteddy Madria

    agriculTurist, environmentalist, etc..AKA NEW PEOPLE’S ARMY.

  • JosengSisiw1

    How many people were abducted and killed by the NPA’s in the past? When can we have justice for these poor people? Why are we looking and investigating only on the other side of the fence? Why is the Human Right Commission only cries out when there’s a military involvement in a crime while we can’t hear from them when ordinary people are helplessly killed by NPA’s? Why we are trying so hard to bring the military in court when we haven’t heard of any NPA leader face the crimes they have committed in the past?

    • Twister12

      HRC are the defenders of criminals. It maybe the NPA, the kidnappers, the murderers, the rapist’s they will cry foul when these people are handed what’s due to them. But do you think if one of their children are the ones actually murdered or raped will they say the same thing?

  • Twister12

    NPA. Menace of the society. Taxing the most impoverished to support their twisted ideology when the truth is it’s their leaders who are the sole beneficiary of this so called revolutionary taxes. Tax the Senators & the Congressmen & maybe I will give you some credits otherwise you are all vermin’s, vampires sucking every bit ounce of blood of our less fortunate kababayan’s.

  • akramgolteb

    Siguro obvious na kung ano ang “fate” ni Burgos. Ang tagal ng nawawala, ibig sabihin patay na siya at malamang NPA din ang pumatay sa kanya dahil suspected AFP informer siya o nag abiso siya na mag resign sa NPA.

  • Pluma Mana

    a local movie producer is secretly doing an animation movie about jonas….that movie is titled FINDING JONAS…

    hey disney pixar is going to released a sequel to Finding Nemo in 2015…the movie is Finding Dory…

    • Pluma Mana

      what about Finding Palparan….Finding Reyes Brothers…..Finding Ecleo Jr….?

      local movie producers can cash in on these…

  • tanga_hanga_ni_abnoy

    itinago ng mga npa sa pwetan ni joma sa netherland isisi sa gobyerno..typical communist propaganda..hindi lahat ng tao nagagawa nyong tanga

  • User Guest

    ang mga armadong pwersa ng gobyerno: mamamatay-tao noon, ngayon, bukas

  • caronaoutgloria2

    it is offensive to those who want a government to pursue these crimes yet does not. gloria belongs right where she is. no sympathy ever!!

  • just_anotherperson

    Kung walang NPA, walang patayan.

  • indiosbravos2002

    We all know what happened to Jonas. He is buried in a ditch somewhere.

  • Almighty Creator

    AFP SALOT SA LIPUNAN! DAPAT KAYO IPADALA SA SABAH AT SPRATLYS NG MABAWASAN MGA KAWATAN! YUNG MGA HENERAL NAGPAPASASA TAPOS YUGN MGA SUNDALO BINABALA SA KANYON. YUNG MGA HENERAL NIYO NAGTATABAAN PARANG MGA BABOY!

  • Garibaldi_II

    Jonas’s disappearance has left many questions for the lying military members have to answer. Mrs. Burgos is forced to bury her son into her heart. A parent of a martial law victim says, “You might ask for justice in the name of the law but you must understand that justice is also unjust to those who have nothing at their disposal but courage to protect themselves from injustice.” Wounds of the body heal in time but wounds of the heart remain for a long time. An NBI investigation is a good start. It’s about time for the Aquino administration to create a Commission that addresses the thousands of forced disappearances during and after martial law that involve the military and CPP/NPA.

  • Duke Dux Ducis

    de lima has a twisted mind like the people she’s trying to protect who has twisted ideology!!!…biruin mo she would protect the communist over sa AFP…Tiya Pusit wag kang magbalak tumakbo sa pag ka senador after your communist-leaning AMO steps down in 2016…just join kris para pareho nalang kayong miserable buhay dahil sa failed relationships…

  • disqusted0fu

    De Lima is just all talk. We haven’t gotten anything significant out of the words that come out of her mouth. The only time that she is effective as the Selective Justice Secretary is when she has to violate or defy rules, orders, and procedures of the law.

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