Burgos case closure up to next president

The longer that desaparecidos like Burgos -- and two UP coeds who were abducted months before him -- remain unaccounted for, the greater the risk that the situation fuels impunity of such grave crimes against human rights and the people, encouraging more evil forces to keep seizing people, said the Burgos family in a statement on Thursday (April 28), the ninth anniversary of the kidnapping.

Jonas, the third child of the late world press freedom icon Jose G. Burgos, Jr., was seized by four men and a woman as he ate lunch alone at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007. Family and friends, led by his mother Edita T. Burgos, have gone to the courts, to the streets, to both government and non-state forums here and abroad in the vain hope of having his abductors surface him.

Among the first to reach out to Mrs. Burgos was the late former president Corazon C. Aquino, whose rise to power was chronicled by the Burgoses' "Mosquito Press" trailblazers during the Marcos dictatorship.

When her only son Benigno III became senator in the midterm elections of 2007, his first privilege speech -- witnessed by his mother from the gallery -- was on the Burgos abduction. Mr. Aquino timed his speech with the anniversary of his father's assassination.

Citing the "collective statements of concern" among advocacy groups, the Catholic church, and other sectors regarding the Burgos disappearance, Mr. Aquino at the time lamented the government's "position of denial...[which] makes one wonder about this administration's capacity and, indeed, willingness, to protect its citizens and seek justice on their behalf."

He was elected president four years later and gave his word to the Burgos family that Burgos will be surfaced and that justice will be served.

With Mr. Aquino's term almost over, Jonas remains a desaparecido nine years after his abduction, the family said in its statement on Thursday.

"Worse, one of the main suspects, Former Colonel Eduardo AAo, was promoted to General. Aquino even appointed him as the chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," the Burgos family statement noted. Mr. AAo now heads the Philippine Army.

"The President's inaction on the case is the same inaction we saw from former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. If we've found Arroyo guilty, then how can we say that President Aquino is not part of the state's cover-up of the crime?" JL Burgos, brother of Jonas, said.

Human rights violations have resurfaced as a public issue this election season -- particularly in the context of the vice-presidential bid of survey front-runner Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., whose father and namesake led a brutal 14-year dictatorship.

Confronted by this matter in a recent debate, Mr. Marcos said: "I certainly acknowledge every human rights abuse in every administration."

The Burgos family said in their statement: "With the coming elections, the family and friends of Jonas hope that the next president will not be part of the continuing cover-up. The Burgos family challenges the next president to bring the perpetrators to justice and bring Jonas back home."

Source: B World Online