jonas burgos picture
Photo of Jonas released by Burgos family, allegedly taken while in military custody

THE FAMILY of Jonas Burgos on Monday submitted to the Supreme Court what it says is new evidence to prove the military’s role in the 2007 kidnapping of the activist, and asked the tribunal to order a new probe by the Court of Appeals.

Edita Burgos, mother of Jonas and widow of press freedom icon Jose Burgos, filed an urgent ex parte motion with the Supreme Court asking the tribunal “to refer back the cases to the same division of the Court of Appeals for further hearing on the newly discovered evidence.”

The documents, Mrs. Burgos said, include a photograph of Jonas Burgos, as well as an “after apprehension report,” a “psycho social processing report,” and an “autobiography” of the missing activist. She said the photograph of Jonas Burgos was apparently taken when he was already in military custody. The after apprehension report and psycho social processing report, in turn, were allegedly prepared by Jonas’ captors for the benefit of their superiors.

Mrs. Burgos said the documents were handed to the family by a source who had links to the military. She refused to release copies of the documents to the media, saying these were instead sealed in an envelope and submitted to the Supreme Court for the tribunal’s perusal.

The Burgos family however released copies of the photograph of Jonas, which the family believes was taken by his military captors in a safehouse. The low-resolution photo shows a dazed-looking Jonas staring at the camera. Behind him is a rough painted wall with what appears to be a window. The family believes that the shirt Jonas was wearing in the photograph was also the same shirt he was wearing when he was abducted on April 28, 2007. The family also believes that the handkerchief tied around his neck was the one used to blindfold Jonas.

“I was stunned. It took me a long time, a few minutes before I could react. And I knew 100 percent that was my son.” Mrs. Burgos said. “My first tendency was to see if he had marks on his face, but I could only see the marks produced by… probably he was blindfolded. And you could see the blindfold draped around his neck”

“We hope this will be the start of something new and the process will be faster,” Mrs. Burgos said.

“The petitioners received from a source who has requested to remain anonymous at this point documentary evidence that would prove that an intelligence unit of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the 56th Infantry Battalion operating together captured Jonas Burgos on April 28, 2007,” the Burgos family said in their petition.

“The newly discovered evidence will prove that the officers and enlisted personnel of the particular unit of the 7th ID and the 56th IB are responsible for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos,” the petition stated. “And that these units captured and interrogated him and based on the same evidence, could probably continue to detain him or God forbid, had disposed o fhim in the manner that only they could explain.”

Military spokesman Major Emmanuel Garcia said the military cannot comment on documents that it has not seen. In the end, Garcia said, the Burgos family would have to file the appropriate charges in court if it feels the evidence warrants such a move.

“We cannot stop them from seeking legal remedies,” Garcia said. “And that (courts) is available to them.”

The revelations come just days after the Court of Appeals released its findings after a three year probe into the Jonas Burgos case. On March 18, the Court of Appeals declared that the Philippine military was both responsible and accountable for the disappearance of Jonas Burgos. The Court ordered all government agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the Commission on Human Rights to exert all efforts to find Jonas Burgos and bring his kidnappers to justice.


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