Cardinal Tagle tells Edita Burgos not to lose hope in search for Jonas
MANILA, Philippines—It has been six years since farmer-activist Jonas Burgos disappeared, but his mother Edita never wavered in hoping and believing that he is still alive.
“We choose to believe that he is still alive,” Edita told reporters shortly after a mass marking her son’s disappearance was held Thursday morning at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila.
“My hope that I would see him again one day has not diminished. The situation before and at present remains the same, but now the institutions are helping us somehow and hopefully we would see him,” she added.
The mass, which was officiated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, was attended by Burgos’ friends and supporters and families of other “desaparecidos.”
In his homily, Tagle talked about how people should remain steadfast in their faith and hope in God amidst sufferings.
“God reminds those who suffer and those who feel hopeless to be strong…and one’s strength can be drawn by pinning our hope to God,” Tagle said in his homily which he delivered in Filipino . “We may not get something out of people’s promises or out of what other people do to alleviate our sufferings, but we should not lose hope.”
Tagle also called on those responsible for Burgos’ disappearance.
“Nananawagan po ako sa mga ngtataglay pa kay Jonas at sa mga napakarami pa na hinahanap ng kanilang mga ina, ama, kapatid, haharap kayo sa Diyos. Humarap na kayo ngayon sa Diyos (I call on those who still have Jonas and have the many others who are missing and are still being sought by their mothers, fathers, siblings. Face God” he said, adding that those who have been committing evil acts might elude justice now but would definitely be answerable to God.
“Ang mga nagpapalaganap ng kadiliman baka akala nyo makakatakas kayo at makakalusot? The good news is mananagot kayo sa Diyos. Makalusot man kayo sa sa mga makataong korte at mga makataong pamamaraan, hindi kayo makakalusot sa Diyos. And Diyos ang magtutuwid sa lahat ng baluktot na ayaw ituwid ng tao (Those who make darkness prevail, do you think that you can escape judgment?,” Tagle said.
Edita, during her speech at the end of the mass, said her renewed hope that she would ]see her son one day stemmed from Tagle’s words of encouragement.
“I prepared a message before coming here, but after hearing Cardinal Tagle, I had a change of heart. I have long been wanting to hear from someone like you a message full of hope. We will draw strength from that,” she said, saying Tagle’s words somehow healed her heart’s wound.
“It is difficult to talk when you are hurting, it is difficult to be logical and to explain when there are tears in your eyes. But I must talk and I must have the courage to say what I need to say,” an Edita said, turning emotional. “We’ve been looking for him for six years. We do not know if he’s dead or alive. But we remain hopeful. Looking back, it was not easy. We leave everything in the hands of God, and day after day, He always provided.”
Edita said she was wondering if she could endure six more years of waiting for her son after seeing a photo of Jonas, purportedly taken after he was abducted with “a handkerchief used as blindfold still around his neck.”
“That photo was very much different from those taken when he was still with the family. You could sense that he was hurting, that he was suffering, that he was confused. So I asked myself, can I still endure another six years?,” she said.
“But I told myself, this is a grace… everything is grace and this too is a grace, to see that my son has suffered. He suffered because he had a generous heart, he suffered because he gave his life to people who had less. Jonas is just an ordinary man, he’s a farmer, and I could not understand why those people are so mad at him that they needed to abduct him. But in six years I realized that such thing happens if you give yourself to others, you have to give your all, even your own life.” she added.
Edita also appealed to families of other victims of enforced disappearance not to lose hope.
“We should stay, we shall not walk away until such time when those who have abducted our children, our parents, or brothers and sisters will have returned the disappeared to us,” she said, as she encouraged them to also pray for those responsible for the disappearance of their loved ones.
“Everything that we suffered for love is suffered easily… So if it means that we will stand beneath the cross with Mary to catch the blood falling from the hands of the wounds of our children, we will do that. But we will offer that blood for the conversion of the abductors, of the perpetrators, of those who have ordered the abduction because they too are children of God, and we must pray for them,” she said.
If there’s anything good that came out of her son’s disappearance, Edita said it was that “we were able to find what God will is for us.”
“I believe that our Lord is not only the Lord of the impossible but the Lord of mercy. And like the widow in the Bible I shall stay and persist until such time when he could have listened, and until such time when my time is perfect to know the truth,” she added, saying she has been yearning for the day that she would see and embrace her son again.
Edita said she would soon discuss with authorities plans to provide her and her family security after receiving threats.
“There were people following us, our phones are bugged. Actually we’ve long been noticing that but it intensified when we submitted new evidence to the Supreme Court,” she said.
She acknowledged President Aquino for ordering a “focused” probe on Burgos’ case.
“Yes he has done something but he could do more. Remember he is the commander in chief. He has already ordered the investigation, but maybe he could ask the Armed Forces of the Philippines to surface Jonas. Sabihin niya. Di ba siya ang commander in chief? Kung i-order nya yun siguro susunod naman sila (He should order them. Isn’t he the commander in chief? If he orders it, they would follow),” she added.
Burgos was an agriculturist involved in promoting organic farming among the rural folk in Bulacan province. Previous news reports attributed to the military suggested that the young Burgos was a communist guerrilla commander. He was 36 years old when he was abducted by unidentified men on April 28, 2007, at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City. He has not been seen since.
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