Press Release
April 1, 2013


The government, through the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), should immediately take hold of the new documents that Editha Burgos obtained showing strong proof of a military operation against her son, Jonas Burgos, who was a victim of an enforced disappearance in 2007, Sen. Chiz Escudero said.

Jonas, a farmer-activist, disappeared after being abducted by suspected state agents on April 28, 2007 at the Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

The Court of Appeals (CA) ruled last March 27, after a three-year review of the Burgos case, that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were accountable for the enforced disappearance of Burgos.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said that in light of the new evidence and the CA decision, the government now has the ball in ensuring the speedy resolution of the Burgos case which had bothered the national conscience for more than five years over the likelihood that the crime had been state-sponsored.

Perpetrators of involuntary or enforced disappearances will be penalized with life imprisonment under Republic Act 10353 or the Law against Enforced Disappearance, the Senate bill that Escudero had authored.

"The act of involuntary disappearance was considered a crime under the law. We bear witness to cases of forced disappearances which are often left in oblivion without putting those persons responsible for the commission of the disappearances accountable before the law," he said.

The law also prohibits the issuances of "orders of battle" by the military, police or any law enforcement agency as justification for an enforced or involuntary disappearance.

The law seeks to make enforced disappearances a thing of the dark past of the nation and it is the first law that guarantees the rights of the family of victims in seeking redress with the courts, Escudero said.

The law, among others, requires state security agencies to reveal all its detention facilities and provide a list of these to the CHR and Congress. Also required under the law is the submission of lists by security agencies of detained individuals and a monthly update of their conditions.

State security forces are prohibited from maintaining detention facilities not included in the list furnished to the CHR and Congress.

Escudero said the law primarily mandates command responsibility on military and police officials on the acts of their personnel who may be held accountable on enforced disappearance cases.

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