Five years of searching for Jonas Burgos

Five years ago today, Jonas Joseph Burgos was abducted by suspected state security agents at a busy mall in Quezon City. From that day until this very moment, his family and friends continue searching for him despite all the difficulties.

After five years, Jonas Burgos still missing

Mrs. Burgos calls for justice on 5th year anniversary of Jonas’ abduction(Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)

MANILA – In hopes of finding Jonas Burgos, Mrs. Edita Burgos and her family have turned to the judicial system but found it wanting.

“We went through the legal process and here we are now,” Mrs. Burgos said in an interview a few days before the fifth year of the disappearance of her son. She encountered a labyrinth and she is still nowhere near finding even a trace of her missing son.

Just last week, the Court of Appeals ruled that the military documents related to the case are secret. In a five-page decision by Associate Justice Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente, the CA’s special former seventh division said the documents, including the summary of information about the two suspects, are considered as confidential. In effect, the court has ruled that the military part of Mrs Burgos’ labyrinthine search for Jonas is untouchable. (Click here to read the whole article)

Jonas Burgos, gentle and brave

The three boys in the family share a light moment. On the right is Jonas. JL stands beside him and Sonny below.(Photo courtesy of the Burgos family / bulatlat.com)

MANILA – Jonas or Jay to his family was born on an Easter Sunday, on March 29, 1970. “I was attending Mass when my labor began. In less than an hour, before the Mass ended, I gave birth to him,” Mrs. Edita Burgos recalled. Jonas is the middle child of the five children of Mrs. Burgos and press freedom icon, Jose Burgos Jr.

As a child, Jay was full of energy. “I would tell his teachers to keep him busy or else they’d get into trouble,” Mrs. Burgos said. Jay went to Victoria School Foundation during his grade school.

Jay was called “supervisor” for his habit of roaming around the school. On the first day of classes, he already knew the names of all the teachers. Sometimes, he would tickle the knees of his classmates, moving from one desk to another.

Asked why he was doing those things, Jay would tell his mother: “Our teacher was saying the same things over and over again.” Smiling, Mrs. Burgos said: “And so, by next school year, he was given the task of erasing what was written on the blackboard. Sometimes, he would erase the text even before his classmates were done copying.” (Click here to read the whole article)

5 years of search, 5 years of hope
Below is the statement of Edith Burgos, on the fifth year anniversary of the disappearance of Jonas.

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. (Click here to read the entire statement)

Timeline:

April 28, 2007: Jonas Burgos was abducted at about 1:30 pm by 4 armed men and a woman in civilian clothes while having lunch at the Hapag Kainan Restaurant in Ever Gotesco Mall, Quezon City.

May 5, 6 and 7, 2007: Jonas’s family files a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights alleging military involvement in the abduction of Jonas after tracing the license plate number of the vehicle used in the abduction to a vehicle impounded in the 56thInfantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Burgos family also filed a complaint with the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Task Force-USIG – National Capital Region.

June 11, 2007: The Burgos family files a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Philippine Court of Appeals asking that the government produce Jonas to the court which was denied, however, by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

December 16, 2007: The Burgos family files for a Writ of Amparo seeking to obtain evidence in the custody of the military that could help locate Jonas.

December 24, 2007: The Court of Appeals issues a Writ of Amparo.

February 29 – March 19, 2008: Dr. Burgos was invited to and goes on an inter-state speaking tour in the United States of America to tell them of the case of Jonas and other victims of enforced disappearances. This is to gather more support for the search for Jonas and the other victims as well as their families.

July 21, 2008: The Court of Appeals dismissed the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Edita Burgos and ruled that she had failed to show that the military was behind the abduction of her son. But partially granted the Writ of Amparo and directed the military and police to provide the documents needed in pursuing the case.

August 2008: Edita Burgos filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to reverse the ruling of the appellate court on the petition for habeas corpus.

October 2009: Edita Burgos goes to the United Kingdom on a speaking tour about the case of her son and the desaparecidos of the Philippines. She also files a case and testifies before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

June 2010: The Supreme Court rules on the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and directs the Commission on Human Rights to re-investigate the Jonas case because of serious lapses in the previous investigations of the the police.

March 15, 2011: The Commission on Human Rights submitted to the SC its report naming Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. as Burgos’ principal abductor after a witness positively identified him. The commission likewise said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has to answer for Burgos abduction.

June 2011: Edita Burgos filed a criminal case with the Department of Justice against Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr., Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano, Col. Eduardo Ano, and other members of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion, for the abduction of her son.

July 5, 2011: The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the findings of the Commission on Human Rights and directed the military to produce Jonas Burgos

August 2011: The Court of Appeals resumed hearing the Jonas Burgos case.

April 12, 2012: Almost five years since the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, the Burgos family concluded their presentation of witnesses and evidences for the Habeas Corpus Petition. The defense shall start presenting their witnesses in May 2012.()

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