Friday, April 26, 2019


Three days after my daughter was discharged from a 5-day stay in the hospital, we got the news about the delisting. 625 names, one name of which is my husband’s, Jonas Joseph Burgos.

A solo-parent for 12 years since Jonas’ abduction, day to day living has not been easy for my daughter and myself. And to hear that the government has petitioned the UN-WGEID to delist the 625 names! This is like scraping an open wound right to the bone.

Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee never consulted any victim or any of their families nor did he get his information from the CHR.

Catura’s premises for the delisting are all false. 

1. Legal reliefs for ED cases such as the Writs of Habeas Corpus and Amparo, do not work. In the case of Jonas, we were granted the Writs. We won the case but Jonas remains missing. The AFP did not comply with the order of the Supreme Court. Plus, Baliaga was acquitted.

2. Compensation or reparation of ED cases is, practically, nil--- ask the families of ED cases now present here. My daughter and I have not received any reparation for the very reason that the AFP continuously deny the fact that my husband is a victim of their abduction despite of the Supreme Court’s ruling that it is, indeed, a case of Enforced Disappearance. Apparently, Catura, his committee, and all others who share his opinion on this issue, have not an inkling of an idea of what the victims of enforced and involuntary disappearance as well as their families are going through and, therefore, should never be given the right to speak for any of us.

They have gone through tremendous lengths of effort in conspiring and covering up every bit of truth of their crime against us and many others like us. This move to delist the 625 cases proves how insincere they are in upholding human rights. They intend to officially/legally disappear completely the victims along with all of us, their families. This is their concept of “closure”.

I have but this to say…so long as we, the families of the desaparecidos, have our breaths, no one can stop us in our fight to surface our disappeared loved ones, for only when they are surfaced, when the whole truth is revealed to the public and the victims and their families given justice and the guilty punished, will there be closure. But even then, no one may have any right to delist anyone’s case. The record of these crimes against the people in the past must always be a constant reminder for all so as never to repeat the same mistakes again.

Twelve Years


It has been 12 years of constancy in the search for Jonas. No stone was left unturned, no information was ignored, Intervention of all possible agencies, personalities and communities were sought. Commitment to the vows of love and fidelity to the ways of peace urged us on.

The first 6 years was spent in fighting the legal battle until finally the Supreme Court ruled in March, 2013 that Jonas was taken by the Philippine Army of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, declaring that Jonas is an enforced disappearance victim. The case was won but the battle was lost. Jonas has not been returned to the family in spite of the order by the Supreme Court to the military. Worse, the suspect, identified in open court was acquitted. The perpetrators, instead of being punished were promoted and remain free, some are now occupying high government positions.

The next 6 years since then, was a roller coaster of events, new evidence was obtained, submitted to the courts, as a result of which a new investigation started. This was full of promise, but the loss of the key witness relegated the case to 'nowhere'. On hindsight, in the series of events, one sees an invisible hand that caused the loss of the one hope of convicting the suspects. It is a no brainer to see who would benefit at this development.

Yet, we know that there is hope, for what is hidden to man's eyes is revealed at the perfect time. Meanwhile... the family holds on to the just order of the Supreme Court: “Return Jonas to his family.” And for as long as this order is not complied with, we hold the government accountable for Jonas' fate. Clearly, the Supreme Court resolved “ The Philippine Army is accountable for the disappearance of Jonas.” If they do not comply, the officers responsible should be held in contempt.

Today as we commemorate the 12th year of the abduction of Jonas, we highlight the following realities:

1. The past presidents, Gloria Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III failed to surface Jonas, even after they promised they would help. As commander in chief of the AFP, they could have surfaced Jonas, thus it is easy to conclude, they are part of the cover-up.

2. The legal reliefs do not work in the Philippines. Only when the institutions cooperate to implement and comply, will the laws be effective, thus no wonder, the victims distrust the courts and impunity continues.

3. Under the present dispensation, there is less hope that justice will be obtained for the victims of enforced disappearance. And with the petition to delist the 625 names submitted to the UN-WGEID, the government only reveals their evil design to sweep under the rug, all the cases of enforced disappearance. As if their memories would be erased if they do this.

This is the height of insensitivity to the plight of the families of the victims. We victims need to rethink … what should we do with leaders of a government who are insensitive to the least, the last and the lost?

Unless we find a voice who will represent the disappeared, the voiceless, we, the small people with small voices, may never obtain the justice and peace we are praying for. The challenge is to find that voice.

Our prayer is that the 12 years of the search would be like the other 12s. It is said that 12 “is the number of what is completed'. There are only 12 months in a year, 12 hours in the clock... Lord let it be on this 12th year that Jonas is found and returned. Let the family be complete on the 12th year. 

Statement of Dr. Edita Burgos on the 12th of the anniversary of abduction of her son Jonas Joseph Burgos