Press Release
August 17, 2007


CEBU CITY -- Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today assailed some military officers for their continued refusal to cooperate with the judiciary in solving the abduction and disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in defiance of an existing order of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for speedy investigation and resolution of cases of human rights violations.

Pimentel expressed dismay over the failure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to heed the order of the Court of Appeals for the submission of the Army Provost Marshal's investigation report on the Burgos case in response to the habeas corpus petition of the victim's mother, Editha Burgos.

To add insult to the injury, Col. Arturo Abadilla, the Army Provost Marshal, did not show up at the CA hearing on the case last Monday. Abadilla was summoned by the court to explain why the confidential investigation report could not be presented by his office.

Pimentel challenged the President to exercise her authority, as commander-in-chief of the AFP, to impose sanctions on military officers who have disobeyed her order, issued last month, for the AFP, PNP and other law enforcement agencies to fully cooperate with the Department of Justice and the courts in the investigation and prosecution of cases of human rights violations, including summary execution of political activists, to expedite their resolution and to pave the way for the conviction of the criminal perpetrators.

"The simple solution, if the refusal to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of this case, is to hold them in contempt for refusing to submit to the jurisdiction of the court," the minority leader said.

"The more complicated solution is for Gloria to order the generals to comply with the court's order. It is more complicated because she really does not command some generals to do anything. It is these generals who hold her by the neck."

Pimentel said the AFP's obstructionist attitude only reinforces the long-held suspicion that it is covering up the alleged involvement of the military in extra-judicial killings.

He said this also renders meaningless the directive of Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, AFP chief-of-staff, for the convening of a military tribunal to conduct court martial proceedings against soldiers accused of committing human rights abuses.

The Army Provost Marshal has not transmitted the investigation report to the CA reportedly because of the lack of clearance from Gen. Esperon.

Jonas, 36, the son of the late journalist and freedom fighter Jose Burgos, Jr., was abducted on April 28 at the Ever Gotesco shopping mall on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. He was picked up by unidentified but armed men who whisked him away in an AUV sporting a license plate from a vehicle impounded by the Army in a detachment in Norzagaray, Bulacan.

The military subsequently conducted a probe on the missing license plate but turned down the request of the Burgos family for a copy of its report.

The Office of the Solicitor General defended the AFP's refusal to furnish a copy of the report to the court. It said the report dealt only with the liability of military personnel for the loss of the license plate and not the military's involvement in the Burgos' abduction.

If that were the case, Pimentel said the less is there any reason for the AFP to block the submission of the report to the court.

The AFP's refusal to submit the Army Provost Marshal's report in connection with the Burgos? abduction case is now being compared to its similar refusal to declassify the AFP inspector general investigation report on the alleged involvement of some senior military officers in the rigging of the 2004 presidential election results in Mindanao.

News Latest News Feed