17 years since the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, activists continue to be abducted

Photo by Dominic Gutoman/Bulatlat


MANILA — Seventeen years since the disappearance of activist-musician Jonas Burgos, families and friends strengthen their resolve to search for him and find justice.

Edita Burgos, mother of Jonas, said that the government has not acted on her ex-parte petition since April 1, 2013 – unfortunately, more than a decade ago – asking the Supreme Court (SC) to reassign the case of her son to the Court of Appeals (CA) after she obtained a new documentary evidence that would prove that the 7th Infantry Division and the 56th Infantry Battalion abducted Jonas.

This petition is supported with additional evidence, particularly: A photograph of Jonas, After-Apprehension Report, Psycho-Social Processing Report, autobiography of Jonas Burgos that, according to the family, are all copies of confidential official reports on file with the Philippine Army.

Read: The Search for Jonas Burgos

The documents were submitted, days after the CA decided that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were responsible for his abduction. The decision was dated on March 18, 2013, but made public on March 27, 2013. CA required both institutions to conduct an exhaustive investigation into Burgos’s disappearance and to coordinate with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regarding the case. However, both Burgos and CHR said that AFP and PNP refused to cooperate in the investigation back in 2013.

“There has been no development at all. They have not acted on my petition despite our victory in 2013. They have not surfaced Jonas, or at least, make [relevant] documents accessible to me,” said Burgos in an interview with Bulatlat.

On April 2, human rights groups and families of desaparecidos (victims of enforced disappearances), held a “Sunset Gathering” at Bantayog ng mga Bayani to symbolize their continuing search for truth and justice.

“Standing among a number of photographs of those abducted and forcibly disappeared, torches and lanterns were lit and held by families, friends, and colleagues, as a symbolic act of bearing the light amidst the tireless search for the desaparecidos in the Philippines by State security forces,” human rights group Karapatan said in a statement.

April 28 marks the 17th year of the disappearance of Jonas Burgos. It is also the first year of the disappearance of indigenous peoples’ rights activists Dexter Capuyan and Gene Ros “Bazoo” de Jesus who were abducted last year.

“Dexter and Bazoo belong to the 13 desaparecidos under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration. The number does not include those who have been surfaced but are likewise made to suffer from torture, whether physical or mental,” Karapatan said.

For Idda De Jesus, elder sibling of Bazoo, no words can describe the grief and rage for the disappearance of her brother and other victims. “Forgiveness has no place in my heart as long as disappearances continue, for as long as the state stripped our ties from our mothers, fathers, siblings, children, friends, and loved ones,” De Jesus said in the gathering.

While the disappearances continue, she said that many of them will continue their search, hoping that they will be with their loved ones soon.

Last March 24, environment defenders Francisco “Eco” Dangla III and Joxelle “Jak” Tiong were mauled and abducted in Barangay Polo, San Carlos, Pangasinan.

After three days of persistent and tireless efforts and camp searches, they were later found bruised but alive by the fact-finding team.

More than 600 signatories from individuals, local groups, and international organizations called for Dangla and Tiong’s safe and immediate surfacing.

“This is an attack on human dignity. It is an affirmation of the pervasive climate of impunity in the Philippines. We should call a stop to enforced disappearances, and to surface Jonas, Dexter, Bazoo, and the hundreds of desaparecidos from Marcos Sr. to Marcos Jr,” Karapatan said. (RTS, DAA)  (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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