WHAT WENT BEFORE: Jonas Burgos
Farmer-activist Jonas Burgos just finished an organic farming training for members of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan, a chapter of the peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas when he was abducted by military agents in a restaurant at Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007. He has not been seen since then.
Burgos was the son of the late veteran journalist and freedom fighter, Jose Burgos Jr., who published hard-hitting newspapers against then President Ferdinand Marcos. The elder Burgos was detained several times during the martial law regime in the 1970s and early 1980s.
A mall security guard said Burgos was taken away in a Toyota Revo with plate No. TAB 194.
The plate was traced by Burgos’ mother, Edita Burgos, to a vehicle impounded at the headquarters of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Norzagaray, Bulacan province. The vehicle, believed to have been used to haul illegally cut logs in Norzagaray and Angat towns, had been seized and parked at the military camp since June 2006.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año then headed the Army’s intelligence division when the alleged abduction took place, which had been linked to the disappearance of Burgos.
Burgos’ mother filed an arbitrary detention case against Año, Col. Melquiades Feliciano and Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr.
In a decision issued on Sept. 3, 2013, the Department of Justice 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 had yet to be found.
The Commission on Human Rights, which investigated Burgos’ disappearance on a Supreme Court directive, had talked to witnesses who identified Baliaga, then a first lieutenant at the 56th IB, as the one who seized Burgos at the restaurant.
Baliaga was charged with arbitrary detention and had been out on bail since 2013. —INQUIRER RESEARCH
Source: Inquirer Archives