Bring back raps vs generals, kin of Burgos ask

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Jonas Burgos. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The lawyers of the family of missing farmer-activist Jonas Burgos has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to reconsider its decision dismissing arbitrary detention charges against military intelligence chief Gen. Eduardo Año and another Philippine Army officer.

In a 20-page motion for reconsideration dated Sept. 23, a copy of which was provided the media on Friday, lawyers Edre Olalia and Ricardo Fernandez, on behalf of Jonas’ mother Edita Burgos also asked the DOJ to reinstate charges of obstruction of justice against retired Armed Forces of the Philippines chiefs of staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Alexander Yano, retired Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon Jr. and former Philippine Army commanding general Romeo Tolentino.

Edita Burgos said there was enough circumstantial evidence to link Año, along with Col. Melquiades Feliciano and Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr., to her son’s abduction more than six years ago.

The lawyers said that all three military officers had knowledge of Jonas’ abduction because they were involved in the investigation of a soldier who had ties to communist leaders, one of whom was a certain Ramon whom the military believed was Jonas.

In a decision issued on Sept. 3, the DOJ recommended that only Baliaga be indicted for arbitrary detention. Feliciano and Año were exonerated due to lack of probable cause. No murder case was filed because the activist’s body has yet to be found.

A witness earlier identified Baliaga as one of the abductors of Jonas from a restaurant inside a mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007.

Esperon, Yano, Tolentino and Razon were also cleared of covering up Jonas’ disappearance. However, Edita Burgos’ lawyers called for the reinstatement of the charges of obstruction of justice against the retired generals, noting that the Court of Appeals, in its decision of March 18, declared the AFP, the Army and the PNP accountable for the enforced disappearance.

As the heads of the military and police at the time of Jonas’ disappearance, the four generals were liable via the principle of command responsibility, the lawyers said.

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