MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday to produce before the court the missing political activist Jonas Burgos.
In a 25-page resolution, penned by Associate Justice Arturo Brion, the High Court gave the order following the report submitted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) dated March 25, 2011.
The SC said that the CHR report contains graphic descriptions of eyewitnesses to the abduction, relevant testimonies of the witnesses, evidentiary difficulties such as the deliberate refusal of police and military officials to furnish relevant documents and facts that the military has something to do with the disappearance.
Likewise, the SC also ordered Court of Appeals (CA) Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. to conduct further hearings on the petition for habeas corpus filed by Jonas Burgos’ mother, Edita, and include as among the respondents Lt. Harry A. Baliaga Jr. of the 56th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Baliaga was identified in the CHR report as one of those who abducted Burgos.
In 2008, the CA dismissed the petition for habeas corpus and the writ of amparo filed by Mrs. Burgos, saying that the evidence was not enough to prove the involvement of the military in the abduction and disappearance of her son on April 28, 2007 in Quezon City.
At the same time, the CA ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to continue with its investigation.
The case was elevated to the SC, which ordered the CHR to take over the investigation as it noted that the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) committed lapses in handling the investigation of the Burgos case.
Among the significant lapses that the PNP-CIDG committed, the SC said, was its failure to identify the cartographic sketches of two of the five abductors of Jonas based on their interview of eyewitnesses to the abduction.
In a recent decision, the SC gave the CA a period of 30 days within which to submit the case for decision.
Likewise, the SC also ordered the AFP chief of staff, the commanding general of the Philippine Army and the commanding officer of the 56th IB, 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, to make a return of the writ.
The SC also gave former AFP chief of staff and now Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner retired Gen. Ricardo David Jr. a period of 15 days to explain why they refused to provide the CHR with documents vital in its investigation. (PNA)