Edita Burgos took the witness stand at the first trial hearing of Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. who is charged with the disappearance of her son Jonas.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, took the witness stand at the first trial hearing of Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. who is charged with arbitrary detention.
“My son Jonas is still missing,” Mrs. Burgos said during the hearing at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216.
Jonas, a farmer activist and son of late press freedom fighter Joe Burgos, was abducted and disappeared on April 28, 2007.
An eyewitness positively identified Baliaga as among the armed men who abducted Jonas.
On Mar. 27, 2013, the Court of Appeals issued a resolution recognizing that Jonas’ abduction is a case of enforced disappearance and that the military should be held accountable for the crime.
His disappearance is supposedly a priority case being handled by the Inter-Agency Committee on extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture, and other human rights violations.
Balliaga told reporters that Mrs. Burgos was, in effect, taking him too away from his mother. But Mrs. Burgos, when asked for her reaction, said that she was not the one but the Supreme Court who pointed him out and alleged that he is behind the abduction.
Mrs. Burgos said she is actually being fair to Baliaga as he is being given his day in court, which, she added, was denied to Jonas.
During the hearing, Mrs. Burgos was asked to identify Baliaga in court. She stood up and pointed to a man, seating on the second row, wearing a blue shirt.
The clerk of court asked his name and he said, “I’m Major Harry Baliaga Jr.”
“When I was pointing at him, I thought that I would not be unjust to anyone, be it an enemy or a friend. But when I was pointing at him, I knew that it was really him. And I had to do it for my son,” Mrs. Burgos told Bulatlat.com.
She also related how she practically went to nearly all government agencies in her search for Jonas.
She also went abroad, urging other governments to pressure then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In her search, Mrs. Burgos managed to meet President Aquino, who was then a senator, and asked for his help on Jonas’ disappearance. She added that Aquino fulfilled his promise to include it in his first privilege speech as senator.
But now that he is president, she said that he became busy with “other things” and “forgot about disappearances.”
Then congressman and now US president Barack Obama were also among those whom she had asked for help. They were told that they would see what they can do.
Mrs. Burgos said she spent nearly every day searching for Jonas during the first three or four years. This, she said, has ran dry her retirement benefits and resources of the family.
But the impact of losing Jonas, she added, could never be quantified. No amount of money could ever equate the pain of a “broken heart and a broken family for losing a son.”
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Edgardo Ano, who also implicated in Jonas’ disappearance, was swore in as chief of the Intelligence Services of the AFP (ISAFP) and is currently head of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
“I have no expectations. I will just do what needs to be done. I do not want to set goals because so far, nothing has happened. I will just continue to do what I need to do,” she said.
Mrs. Burgos is scheduled for a cross examination on Dec. 4.