5 years of search, 5 years of hope

Edith Burgos: today's Mater Dolorosa

On April 28, 2007, past noon, Jonas Burgos was at Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City waiting for friends. Before his friends came three military agents, one was a woman, approached him and forcibly brought him out to a waiting vehicle. Jonas was never seen after that.

Jonas’ mother, Edita, wife of press freedom fighter Jose Burgos, Jr. (founder of Malaya) issued the following statement yesterday:

“April 28, 2012 marks the fifth year of the disappearance of my son, Jonas Burgos. Jonas’ family commemorates this day by looking back at the five years of search. We recall how we have exhausted every possible peaceful means available to us within the limitations of resources and information.

“We have encountered numerous attempts at individual and institutional cover up and confronted these with more determination to uncover the truth. The denials, the stone-walling, the labeling, all the lies and even the indifference have only encouraged us to pray some more and to look at others with the eyes of a Christian heart. Undeterred, our search must go on.

“At every turn of the uphill path of the search, something and someone would somehow turn out to be His Providence supplying what was needed for the moment. The particular grace would always be on time… just enough, and would, in spite of the pain and seeming helplessness… fuel a renewed vigor to search for the lost son, the lost brother, the lost husband, the lost father.

“We may have been denied our petitions in court. We may have been perplexed by inaction from the authorities. We may have been reduced to ‘just’ a number among those searching for the lost love, relegated to the pages of a report on human rights violations in the country.

“ Yet the search has been a journey where hope, enkindled at the very start, has grown and has been nourished. For indeed, as we have read, heard and believed… grace would abound where trials exist.
We continue looking for Jonas with hope. God in His Mercy will hear our prayers.

“’ Jay hold on, we will not give up.’”

Yes, hope is our weapon in the face government indifference and inaction.

It is also important that we continue to keep tab of every step taken, even the steps not taken.
Last year, the Commission on Human Rights identified a junior Philippine Army officer, 1st Lt. Harry Baliaga Jr. , who was then assigned at the Philippine Army’s 56th Infantry Batallion in Bulacan.

The identification of Baliaga gave a lie to the continued denial of the military of any involvement in the disappearance of Jonas. It is reported that Baliaga is in detention.

The expose of Baliaga’s role in Burgos abduction helped in the dismissal of the case against 2Lt Dick Abletes, who was arrested in March 2007 and linked to the disappearance of Jonas.

Abletes was tried in a court martial for “spying”. The military’s evidence: Amado Guerrero’s 1971 “Philippine Society and Revolution”; Victor Corpus’ 1990 book, “Silent War”; and “compilation of reading materials on Communism.”

On August 22, 2011, after more than four years in detention, Abletes, represented by lawyer Vicente Verdadero, was cleared of the charges against him. He is now assigned at the 6th ID in Maguindanao.

The campaign against forced disappearances, however, has not moved much. “The Butcher”, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan has been ordered by the Malolos Regional Trial Court for the 2006 disappearance of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeno and farmer Manuel Merino but he remains beyond the reach of the law.

The Philippines has not signed up to now the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which has been signed by 92 countries, 32 of which have ratified the Convention.

“The UN Convention For the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is a concrete legal measure which, when put in place, can be a powerful tool to help strengthen governments’ capacities to eradicate disappearances, punish the perpetrators and provide truth, justice, redress, reparation and historical memory to victims and their families,” said Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, secretary general of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances.

This coming May 29, Jeremy Sarkin,chairman of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, will be coming to Manila.

AFAD, which is arranging the visit of Sarkin, has requested an appointment with President Aquino for him.

April 26, 2012 10:12 pm  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Human Rights, Malaya

24 Responses

  1. olan - April 27, 2012 10:32 am

    The Philippines has not signed up to now the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which has been signed by 92 countries, 32 of which have ratified the Convention.

    The Aquino Government should consider being part of this international convention…it’s the right thing to do.

    You are right Mrs. Burgos…there is hope! Hang in there.

  2. Jake Las Pinas - April 28, 2012 4:19 am

    As long as the NPA and MILF are around, forced disappearance will continue to happen. A fake president of the Philippines even praised the ‘butcher’ during one of her SONA. Is it our national policy? This has been going on for more than a century.

  3. MPRivera - April 28, 2012 1:24 pm

    #2. not so fast and conclusive. the one you viciously called “the butcher” may have nothing to do with anyone’s disappearance.

    you’ve had mentioned about the NPA’s and having so, you should know about the purging and the costly way of gaining media mileage and mass support they were doing at the expense of their comrades and supporters. no matter what and whoever anyone is, the communist terrorists will not hesitate sacrificing just to paint how inhuman and facist the military and police are.

    not anyone knows here about the true character of that “butcher”, the product of the red propaganda and a victim of gloria arroyo’s fake concern for the filipino people.

    haven’t anyone here notice the deafening silence of the legal fronts who are and were always in the forefront of rallies and demonstrations whenever there is a forced disappearance like jonas’?

  4. MPRivera - April 28, 2012 1:34 pm

    who witnessed the presence of 1Lt Baliaga during the abduction of Jonas? a “planted” communist supporter who is always present whenever there is a dialogue with the mass bass and supporters of the CCP/NPA initiated by 1Lt Baliaga’s unit?

    there is one commenter here who was once a subject and victim of related accusations of the left.

  5. MPRivera - April 28, 2012 3:58 pm

    just the other day, the ifugao ambush killing 11 army soldiers (1 captain, 10 enlistedmen) and a civilian.

    bakit walang human rights crusaders’ protest?

    calling ms. e-ta rosales. bakit nananahimik ka?

    letse, ngayon ka magngangawa nang paglabag sa karapatang pantao!

  6. MPRivera - April 28, 2012 4:02 pm

    kapag mga rebelde’t kriminal ang sangkot gayundin ang mga nagmamatigas na iskwater na pinapaalis nang maayos sa lupa ng may lupa ay napakabilis ang pagkondena ng HRC. kapag ganito…… naku, peste kayo!

  7. Tilamsik - April 28, 2012 4:36 pm

    5 years waiting and the advent of a new government – that promised change – still, her son Joseph Jonas Burgos has not been surfaced despite evidences pointing to the culprits: the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine

    I am in deepest symphaty with Mrs. Edith Burgos, may justice be served.

  8. Tilamsik - April 28, 2012 4:42 pm

    Baliaga has been identified by witness Jeffrey T. Cabintoy, a worker at the restaurant where Jonas was taken, as one of the abductors of Jonas. He was also identified by witness Edmond Dag-Uman, a former soldier, as an officer then assigned to the Bravo company of the 56th IB.

    The license plate of the vehicle used in the abduction was traced to the 56th IBPA.

    To all desaparesidos, to all who have falled without seeing the dawn, you are heros of our hearts.

  9. MPRivera - April 28, 2012 5:09 pm

    1Lt Baliaga being assigned with the 56th IB is not a substantial evidence linking him to the abduction of Jonas even he was identified by Cabintoy in just photo line ups. so much so with the license plate of the vehicle allegedly used as “cloning” is rampant everywhere in manila.

    a former soldier corroborated the witness identification of the said officer? what about ill feeling should this Dag-uman was discahrged for cause and only wanted to get even with 1Lt Baliaga if he was the one who recommended his separation (say, without honor) from the military service?

    was there any commotion hapened when Jonas was taken? was there any force used dragging him out of the restaurant and thrown inside the get-away vehicle?

    anyone here who would dare abduct anyone in broad daylight and in public?

    what if Jonas was only invited for questioning and was released later and/but the reds took advantage of it and exploited the situation to gain media attention to score a point against the army?

  10. Tilamsik - April 28, 2012 6:16 pm

    Alay mula sa Puso!

    Ang iba’y hindi na lumitaw,
    hindi na kailanman lumitaw,
    nawala na lang at sukat,
    walang labí, walang bangkay,
    hindi malaman kung
    buhay o patay,
    hindi mapaghandugan
    ng lamayan, pasiyam, luksa,
    hindi maipagbabang- luksa,
    hindi maipagtirik ng kandila
    kung Todos los Santos.
    Nakaposas pa ba sila
    sa paa ng kinakalawang na kama
    sa loob ng kuwartong may tanod,
    busog sa bugbog,
    binabagabag ng bangungot,
    sumisipol kung nag-iisa

    Alay sa mga desaprecidos
    para kina :

    Charlie del Rosario
    at Caloy Tayag
    at Manny Yap
    at Henry Romero
    at Jun Flores,
    at Rudy Romano

    silang naglingkod sa mga api at hikahos.
    Buhay man sila o patay,
    alaala’y mananatili silang buhay.

    –Jose F. Lacaba

  11. MPRivera - April 30, 2012 8:25 pm

    Caraga, N. Mindanao refugees cry for end to military attacks

    “…….More than 200 families were displaced from their homes in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte, frightened away by the military, said Enriquez. Some 140 left their homes in Surigao del Norte last March 23 and 102 left their houses in Agusan del Norte last March 5.
    “Takot ang mga katutubo (the natives are frightened),” he explained, pointing to 22-year-old internal refugee Balodoy Inano whom he said had been shot by a soldier while gathering kindling last March 23 in Sitio Omao of Camam-onan village, Gigaquit town, Surigao del Norte.
    After Inano was shot in the chest and fell to the ground, he was approached by a soldier who apologized and gave him two paracetamol tablets, according to Enriquez.
    The soldier said that he thought Inano was an NPA rebel and told him not to tell that it was a soldier who shot him or he would be finished off……”


    tsk.. tsk. tsk..

    a very common CPP/NPA way of painting how rogue and heartless our soldiers are.

    and the CHR are always readily taking side with these terrorists without even a second thought.


  12. Tilamsik - April 30, 2012 8:40 pm

    A mother’s grieve

    Jonas’ case is among several cases typical of the previous administrations that became notorious for several unsolved disappearances and killings of dissidents, fostering a culture of impunity that derided human rights and the rule of law.

    Similar to Burgos’ are the cases of UP Diliman students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, who have been missing since 2006. As in the case of Burgos, the military has been implicated and the mothers of the victims have pursued all legal means to force it to produce their missing children—with mixed results. In the case of Empeño and Cadapan, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan has been formally charged with kidnapping and illegal detention and, typical again of the culture of impunity with which certain sectors of the military treated human rights cases against them, Palparan has gone into hiding rather than face the charges against him. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces and the police appear not in the mood to capture one of their own and make him face the music.

    Like the parents of the missing students, Edita Burgos has pursued all legal means to compel the military to produce her son. The family’s petitions for a writ of amparo and writ of habeas corpus are being heard by the Court of Appeals. The Department of Justice is conducting a preliminary investigation of the kidnapping and illegal detention charges against Lt. Harry Baliaga Jr., who was identified by the CHR as one of those who abducted Jonas. But the five-year struggle has been mostly a story of setbacks rather than gains. The appeals court recently denied the Burgos family’s motion for disclosure of the suspects’ summary of information. The military had opposed it.

    Taos pusong pakikiramay Mrs. Burgos

  13. MPRivera - May 1, 2012 12:15 pm

    reasons why the communist terrorists and other criminal elements are becoming bold each day is the show of outward condemnation against the military by the CHR and very same people it (military) swore to defend and protect.

    instead of getting first seriously the side of the AFP and dig deeper into each case it is being implicated, proper authorities and people as well as members of media tend to sensationalize and make reading public believe allegations steamrolled by the wolves hiding under the sheepskin criminals.

    but, when soldiers perish in encounters and ambushes perpetrated by the terorists, everyone seemed not to care even pictures of how they were ruthlessly killed and at some extent beheaded.

  14. Tilamsik - May 1, 2012 12:49 pm

    Dinagit ng mga mababalasik na Uwak..!

    Five men and one woman headed by Army Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. of the 56th Infantry Battalion stormed into the restaurant where the son of one of press freedom’s greatest heroes sat having his lunch. Jonas Burgos understood what was happening, and began shouting.

    The busboy that later identified Baliaga tried to help, but stopped when Baliaga announced they were arresting a suspected drug dealer. A second witness, the last civilian to see Jonas Burgos alive, took down the plate number of the vehicle Burgos was thrown into. The Isuzu was later traced to the 56th Infantry Battalion

    Naway makamtan mo ang hustistya’t kapayapaan Mrs. E. Burgos.

  15. MPRivera - May 1, 2012 1:19 pm

    this is it, again.

    diyan pa lamang nagkakatalo na, eh. tinyente biglang naging medyor.

    in a drug operations like this one as alleged, gagamit ka ba ng markadong sasakyan? gagamit ka ba ng pulang plaka?

    to which corner would you want our soldiers to stand?

    sige nga. kayo ang lumagay sa katayuan nilang ginagampanan ang tungkulin subalit minamasama’t halos duraan kapag ganyang pinipilit i-kahon ng mga kriminal at teroristang sila mismong peste sa lipunan?

    ipikit ninyo ang inyong mga mata at isipin kung ano ang kalagayan nating lahat kapag ang mga komunistang ‘yan ang namumuno sa atin. paglaruin ninyo sa inyong balintataw halimbawang tayong lahat ay nasa isang guwardiyadong common labor camp na parang mga hayop na binabantayan. sa umaga ay pila pilang nakaposas ang mga kamay patungo sa bukirin at pagawaan at gayundin pagkatapos ng maghapong gawain na ang kinakain ay kung ano lamang ang gusto nilang ihain samantalang ang mga nakakataas nila’t mga kadre ay namimintog ang mga tiyan sa kabusugan. ipinta ninyo ‘yung senaryong kapag hindi na pakikinabangan ang sinuman lalo’t maysakit, matanda na at mahina ay papataying walang awa.

    ganyan ba ang gusto ninyo? o, ganitong kahit naghihirap ang nakararami sa atin ay may kalayaan sa gustong kahinatnan sa buhay?

  16. MPRivera - May 1, 2012 1:23 pm

    gusto n’yo bang maranasan kung ano ang naging buhay ng mga taga Cambodia noong panahong para silang mga patay na buhay?

    kung merong nakapanood ng “Killing Fields” sa inyo, ‘yun mismo ang naging karanasan nila.

    kung sakaling ipagkaloob ng alinmang administrasyon ang kapangyarihan sa MILF na pamunuang walang pakialam ang malakanyang, sa palagay ninyo saan pupulutin kaming mga kristiyanong naninirahan doon?

  17. Tilamsik - May 1, 2012 1:48 pm

    Jonas Burgos could be dead. It is the not knowing that is hardest. Edith worries that he is hungry, or that he is cold. He is alive, she feels it in her heart, she is his mother and she would have known.

    And yet in the five years since the headlines screamed about the disappearance of Joe Burgos’ son, not once has Jonas Burgos been seen. No witness has come forward, no Raymond Manalo to describe shared torture, no coded messages sent to relatives the way Sherlyn Cadapan did a year after she was hauled by armed men out of a farm in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

    Jonas Burgos, 42, is missing, presumed dead by many, but never by his mother.

    Another intelectual lad is missing, another intelectual youth is missing, youth with a caliber of becoming leader, sayang ang mga kabataan!

    Silang mga kabataan na nagpaalam upang sumikhay ng karunungan.. ngayon ay tatanggapin ng lumuluhang Ina ang pinakamahalagang tropeo … ang kanilang bangkay.

  18. Tilamsik - May 1, 2012 7:22 pm

    The Killing Fields
    (Central Luzon – First Quarter Storm of 2005)

    In Dingalan, Aurora province, Chrispin Amazona, 40, of Barangay Umiray, was last seen by relatives and friends on Feb. 14. Two days later, his body was found along the street in Amucao, Tarlac City.

    Relatives said Amazona’s hands were tied and his body wrapped in a black plastic bag with his name and the words “Hacienda Luisita.” He had bullet wounds in the head and chest.

    On Feb 20, an unidentified gunman killed Rodel Pelayo, 30, and Joey Abraham, 28, both members of the Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA) in Balanga, Bataan, 123 kms north of Manila.

    Bonnet-wearing murderers, Prominent mass leaders are not the only victims,

    In San Ildefonso, Bulacan, 66 kms north of Manila, four armed men in civilian clothes with faces covered by bonnets barged into the house of Pablito Ignacio, 44.

    Ignacio’s daughter, Aileen, told Karapatan that the armed men asked her father to surrender his gun. Saying that he had none, Ignacio was dragged into the kitchen.

    A few seconds later, Aileen said she shouted and panicked when she heard a lone gunshot from where her father was. A few more seconds and she heard two more gunshots after which the four armed men left. It was only then that Aileen ran to the kitchen. She saw her father bleeding profusely.

    In Guagua, Pampanga, 77 kms north of Manila, four bonnet-wearing men on board a car with no plate, sprayed bullets into a tricycle driven by Rodrigo Lampa, 40.

    Witnesses said Lampa sustained bullet wounds on his head and knees causing his death. The victim was an active member of a local peasant organization.

    Disappearances, the worst form of human rights violations, are increasing in this region at an alarming rate.

    At around 5 p.m. Feb 11, two men on board a dark blue van and armed with .45 cal. pistols abducted 53-year old Esteban Pastor, a tricycle driver and active member of the party-list group Bayan Muna.

    Since January 2005, there have been five victims of disappearances, all of whom have yet to surface to this day. The most recent of them is another Bayan Muna leader, Danilo Macapagal,

  19. MPRivera - May 2, 2012 1:17 pm


    para matapos na ang forced disappearances at matahimik na rin ang ating bayan – SCRAPE the Armed Forces of the Philippines; the Philippine National Police and all other law enforcement agencies.

    i now regret having spent part of my life serving the army BEING now the oppressor of the people the communists want to protect and liberate!

    mabuhay ang mga teroristang koministang kriminal at iba pang mapanligalig at kawatan!

    ibasura na ang kapayapaan at pag-asam sa malaya at maayos na buhay!

    yakapain natin ang idolohiyang walang kinikilalang diyos!

    mabuhay ang partido komunista ng pilipinas!

    mabuhay si joma sison!

    mabuhay ang sagisag ng mapagpalayang maso at karit!

  20. Tilamsik - May 2, 2012 4:31 pm

    Alay sa po sa inyo,

    I am in full solidarity with mrs. Edith Burgos the grieving mother. I do not know Jonas Burgos neither his mom. I do believe that no mother of any son, rebel or soldier or child of heroes, should be forced to live with the loss that Edith Burgos carries every day.

    This is the message she sends out, to Jonas Burgos, wherever he is. Jay, hold on, we will not give up.

    Sanay makamtan mo ang hustisya at sa marami pang dakilang Ina.

  21. Ellen - May 12, 2012 4:03 pm

    Burgos abduction witness tags Baliaga in court, Army officer chokes when grilled about April 28- Interaksyon

    Lt. Harry Baliaga, the Army officer implicated in the abduction of activist-farmer Jonas Burgos five years ago, was tagged in court Thursday morning by a restaurant worker as among the seven people he saw dragging away Burgos, who remains missing.

    And, when the Court of Appeals justices grilled him as he sat as the first defense witness, Baliaga’s testimony stalled, and he wept briefly when they asked him to account for his whereabouts on April 28, 2007, the day Burgos was seized at the Hapag Kainan restaurant at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City, sources told InterAksyon.com of the court’s executive session.


  22. MPRivera - May 12, 2012 5:00 pm

    Ellen, salamat sa link.

    Am beginning to be convinced Lt Baliaga had a hand on Jonas’ abduction and some army top brass sent him for this mission but, who were they? Dapat matanggalan na sila ng maskara.

    Napakabata pa nitong tinyenteng ito (baka nga promoted na siya to captain as of this moment) subalit hinayaang maipit ang sarili sa sitwasyong maaaring siya lamang ang madiin KUNG sa pagkakataong ito ay papanaigin niya ang “respeto” sa “obey first before you complain” tradition sa military.

    Para kay Lt Baliaga: Iho, huwag mong talikuran ang coat-of-arms ng akademyang iyong pinagtapusan. Tandaan mo ito – iilan kayong mga pinalad na tawagin upang maglingkod sa bayan at hindi kasama sa paglilingkod na ito ang PIKIT MATANG pagtalima sa alam mong hindi makataong utos ng sinumang nakakataas sa tungkulin.

    Huwag mong sayangin ang pagkakataon. Ang katotohanan ang magpapalaya sa iyo mula sa usig ng iyong kunsensiya. Papayag ka bang pagdusahang mag-isa ang makasalanang utos habang namamayagpag, nagsasaya at nagpapasarap ang (mga) nag-utos sa iyong “kunin” si Jonas?

    Kung sa iyong ama, kapatid o kaanak gawin o mangyari ang ganito, papayag ka ba?

  23. MPRivera - May 12, 2012 5:47 pm

    ngayon ko lang napansin (nang muli kong balikan ang link), major in-address ni gng. burgos itong si baliaga. kung totoo ito, lumalabas na harry was rewarded a promotion after he “accomplished” his mission and again was promoted to the next higher grade (supposed to be meritoriously after another mission?)

    ‘ambilis, ah!

    anong class ba siya sa PMA?

  24. MPRivera - May 12, 2012 7:32 pm

    kailan matatapos ang walang kuwentang patayang ito?


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