QC court acquits soldier in Jonas Burgos abduction case
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) acquitted on Thursday a military official accused of abducting activist Jonas Burgos.
In a nine-page decision by presiding Judge Alfonso C. Ruiz II, QCRTC Branch 216 absolved Philippine Army Major Harry Baliaga Jr., who was charged with arbitrary detention, as the prosecution failed to prove that he was the person behind the disappearance of Burgos in 2007.
The court said the evidence presented by the prosecution was based on hearsay and not on the witnesses’ personal knowledge.
It also ruled that there was no sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove the guilt of Baliaga, who is out on bail.
“The only circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution was the discovery that the vehicle, with plate no. TAB-194 was earlier apprehended and later impounded at the 5th Infantry Battalion located at San Mateo, Norzagaray, Bulacan, where the accused, Harry Baliaga, Jr., was previously assigned,” the decision stated.
“Even if admitted, however, the circumstantial evidence standing alone will not reach the quantum of proof required to overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence,” it added.
Burgos, an organic farming trainer, was last seen alive on April 28, 2007 when unidentified men forcibly took him from inside a mall in Quezon City into a vehicle.
He was believed abducted by members of the military, as he was reportedly affiliated with the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Bulacan, a local chapter of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
Burgos’ mother, Edita, said she was saddened by the court’s decision but maintained that their family will continue to search for justice for his son, who remain missing until now.
Burgos is also a son of press freedom icon Joe Burgos, a journalist who founded and published newspapers We Forum and Malaya during the Marcos dictatorship. /kga
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