MANILA, Philippines?On April 28, 2007, in San Miguel, Bulacan, Jonas Burgos conducted organic farming training for members of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan, a chapter of the militant peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
He was last seen that afternoon in the Hapag Kainan restaurant at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City, being forcibly dragged away by a group of men and a woman.
A mall security guard said Burgos was taken away in a Toyota Revo with Plate No. TAB 194.
The license plate was traced by Burgos? mother, Edita Burgos, to a vehicle impounded at the headquarters of the Army?s 56th Infantry Battalion in Norzagaray, Bulacan. The vehicle, believed to have been used to haul illegally cut logs in Norzagaray and Angat, had been seized and parked at the Army camp since June 2006.
A month after the abduction, Lieutenant Colonels Noel Clement, Melquiades Feliciano and Edison Caga, Cpl. Castro Bugalon and Pfc. Jose Villena appeared before police investigators and denied involvement in the kidnapping.
Clement said the license plate might have been stolen from the detachment when the entire battalion left the camp for field maneuvers from November to December 2006.
Edita Burgos? lawyer wrote then Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon requesting a copy of the report of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General on the involvement of the 56th IB in Burgos? disappearance.
Esperon accused of cover-up
The Burgos camp received a letter on June 21, 2007, from the Judge Advocate General explaining that the report could not be released because it was classified matter, and that the case was still undergoing investigation.
A week later at a press conference, the mother accused the Army of abducting her son, and Esperon of covering up the crime.
The military denied this, and said it was actually trying to be ?transparent? in the investigation.
On July 16, 2007, the Supreme Court granted Edita Burgos? petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
But the military continued to insist that Burgos was not in its custody.
The Provost Marshal?s report was finally presented on Nov. 7, 2007. Assistant Solicitor General Amparo Tang said the report dealt only with the loss of the license plate and was irrelevant to the habeas corpus case that the Court of Appeals was hearing.
In December 2007, Edita Burgos sought and received a writ of amparo from the appellate court. This petition was later consolidated with her earlier plea for habeas corpus.
In February 2008, she submitted to the court an 11-page confidential report purportedly from the Army. Dated March 12, 2007, the report included Burgos and his wife in a list of suspected members of the communist New People?s Army.
Beside Burgos? name was the word ?neutralized.?
Questioned in court, Edita Burgos refused to disclose the identity of her source, but said the source was in the military.
The Court of Appeals noted that the evidence was unsigned, unauthenticated and unidentified. The document was also dated a month before Burgos? actual abduction, bolstering the court?s suspicion that the list could have been fabricated.
Other data presented to the court as evidence were ruled to be inadmissible or unsubstantiated.
On July 21, 2008, the appellate court threw out Edita Burgos? petition for habeas corpus and ruled that she had failed to show that the military was behind the abduction of her son.
But it partly granted her plea for a writ of amparo, and directed the military and police to provide her the documents that she needed in her own investigation.
In August 2008, Edita Burgos asked the Supreme Court to reverse the appellate court?s habeas corpus ruling. Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives