Jonas Burgos case: 3 generals, major show up at hearing
A year after being charged for the disappearance of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos, three retired generals and an Army major appeared at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday for the first preliminary investigation hearing of the case.
Former Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., former police chief Avelino Razon Jr. and former Army commanding general Romeo Tolentino filed a joint counter-affidavit before assistant state prosecutor George Yarte Jr. regarding the obstruction of justice case filed against them by Burgos’ mother Edita.
“We performed our functions and duties to the best of our abilities and exhausted all efforts to bring into light the cause of the disappearance of complainant’s son, all within the limits prescribed by existing laws and regulations of our respective organizations. We discharged our functions faithfully to aid in the investigation of the disappearance of Jonas Burgos,” the retired generals said.
They also denied that the investigations they conducted during their terms of office in the police and military were meant to mislead and prevent a true and complete investigation of the disappearance.
Maj. Harry Baliaga, who was positively identified by key witness Jeffrey Cabintoy, as one of Burgos’ abductors also showed up. He filed his counter-affidavit on the case of arbitrary detention filed against him.
Edita and the respondents, however, did not have a face-to-face confrontation because the prosecutor’s room was small and it was decided that she and respondents together with their lawyers would be brought in by batches.
“I refuse to feel anything anymore. If I feel something it would be uncharitable thoughts,” Edita told reporters before the hearing when asked about a possible confrontation with the suspects.
Edita said she hoped Baliaga, if he really was involved in Burgos’ disappearance, would tell the truth.
“I don’t want to believe my son is dead. I choose to believe that he’s still alive and that we will be together as a family again. I will always keep looking for him; even if I’m gone, my family will keep looking for him,” she added.
Members of the Families of Desaparecidos for Justice picketed the DOJ building during the hearing and called for a swift investigation. Some members later accompanied Edita to the hearing.
“We hope that this case will proceed to trial given the rigorous and tedious process the Burgos family has patiently gone through,” said Mary Guy Portajada, secretary general of the group.
“The prosecution panel of the DOJ should not waste any time in pursuing this case for the Burgos family has waited long enough for justice and for Jonas. Portajada accused the military of covering up the truth about Jonas and all other desaparecidos (the disappeared).
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