Statement by Edith T. Burgos on the disappearance of her son, Jonas Joseph T. Burgos

I am the mother of Jonas Joseph T. Burgos. Jonas is a farmer; he manages our farm in Bulacan. He is a member of a peasant organization in Bulacan, Alyansang Magbubukid ng Bulacan. Jonas has been a desapercido since two months ago.

My son Jonas, according to witnesses, was forcibly taken by a group of 6 males and 1 female while he was having lunch at the Hapag Kainan Restaurant in Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, on April 28, 2007 at about 1.30 p.m. As he was being forcibly taken, he was shouting “Aktibista lang po ako!”

I realized that Jonas could be missing when he did not come home that night of April 28th.

The following morning, I received a text message from Jonas which states: “Pasensiya na ligo lang ako”; this was followed by another text: “Sige bukas pag-usapan natin”. I tried calling his phone but could not get an answer until it could no longer be reached.

On April 30th, I called for a press conference and announced that Jonas has been missing since April 28th.

As a result of that press conference, I received information that a security guard at the Ever Gotesco Mall saw Jonas forced by persons who identified themselves to be “PULIS” into a vehicle with plate number TAB 194.

That plate number TAB 194 was traced to a vehicle registered in the name of Mauro Mudlong. Mr. Mudlong and his vehicle were apprehended on June 24, 2006 by PFC Jose Villena and CPL Castro Bugalon of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (56th IB) based in Barangay San Mateo, Norzagaray Bulacan for violation of Section 68 of PD 705 or “Transporting of Timber Without a Permit” (filed with the Prosecutor of Bulacan at Malolos; IS No. 06-09-4287). Said vehicle with plate no. TAB 194 and its cargo were taken to the headquarters of the 56th IB at Norzagaray Bulacan. Lt. Col. Noel S. Clement was the commanding officer of the 56th IB at the time the vehicle with plate no. TAB 194 was apprehended and taken to the 56th IB headquarters.

Police investigators reported that they took the statements of 5 Army officers: Lt. Col. Noel S. Clement, at present the commanding officer of the Security and Escort Battalion based in Fort Bonifacio; Lt. Col. Melquiades L. Feliciano, commanding officer 56th IB who succeeded Lt. Col. Clement in January but reportedly relieved in May (his present assignment is unknown); Lt. Col. Edison Caga, commanding officer 69th IB stationed in Pampanga who was assigned to secure the 56th IB headquarters when it went for training in November 2006; CPL Castro Bugalon and PFC Jose Villena III both assigned at the 56th IB.

Media reported that Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. has ordered the Army Provost Marshal and the Inspector General to investigate the involvement of the above named 5 army officers in the forced disappearance of Jonas.

On May 21, 2007, my lawyer wrote to Gen. Esperon to request for a copy of the “report of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General on the involvement of the 56th Infantry Battalion on [Jonas’] disappearance”. When Gen. Esperon was not responding after a week, we sent him another letter on May 29, 2007.

I met with Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on May 29th to seek his help in finding Jonas or any information he can provide about what has happened to him. Secretary Ermita responded by arranging that I meet with General Esperon on June 6, 2007 at 10 a.m. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called me up on June 2nd to express her concern about Jonas and reminded me that I go see Gen. Esperon.

My lawyer together with my brother, Jimmy Tronqued (I had vertigo attack and could not leave the house) went to Gen. Esperon’s office at the appointed time, June 6, 2007 at 10 a.m. However, they were met by 2 officers, LTC. Jose and LTC Lucero, and not by Gen. Esperon, who, according to the 2 officers, had left for another meeting. My lawyer asked the 2 officers about our request for a copy of the report of the Provost Marshal but the 2 officers had no idea about such request.

On June 21st, my lawyer received a letter from the Judge Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Nemesio I. Dabal, writing for Gen. Esperon. The letter said that we could not be given copies of the report of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General because of two restraints: a) it is “a classified matter, the unauthorized disclosure of which, while not endangering national security, may cause unwarranted injury to an individual. Under pertinent rules, this category of classified matter expressly includes investigation and document of a personal and disciplinary nature which we are bound to secure for administrative purposes and further to safeguard the identity of personnel being investigated for an anomaly prior to the filing of appropriate charges”; b) the “restraint is a necessary measure in order not to preempt the final outcome of the case being investigated through the premature disclosure of an initial investigation result which is taking its course under the military justice system. This is with a view to further elevation of the matter to an appropriate body for proper disposition, including its possible referral with a view to trial by court martial against erring personnel involved, if circumstances warrant”.

In other words, Gen. Esperon turned down my request because he was concerned that my reading of the report of the Provost Marshal and Inspector General “may” cause some unwarranted injury to someone (whom he has not named) and because he does not want that the “initial investigation result” to preempt or be presumed to be the final outcome of the case being investigated.

Based on the evidence so far gathered: a) the testimony of the witness security guard that he saw Jonas forced into the vehicle with plate no. TAB 194; b) plate no. TAB 194 has been traced to be in the custody of the 56th IB since June 2006, I accuse the Army of having forcibly abducted my son Jonas on April 28, 2007 at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City. I strongly suspect that either or both of its former commanding officers, Lt. Col. Clement and Lt. Col. Feliciano participated in the enforced disappearance of Jonas.

The conduct of Gen. Esperon tells me that the Army is hiding from me information of vital investigative value in the Jonas case. First, he refused to see me and my representatives despite the fact that Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita had arranged the meeting and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo encouraged me to see him. And then he turns down my request for a copy of the report of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General.

Gen. Esperon’s conduct or rather, misconduct, only reinforces my belief that the Army abducted Jonas and Gen. Esperon is covering up for the Army.

I am the mother of a desaparecido, the victim of enforced disappearance by unidentified persons who was taken into a vehicle with plate no. TAB 194 traced to the 56th Infantry Battalion whose 2 previous commanding officers, Lt. Col. Melquiades L. Feliciano and Lt. Col. Noel S. Clement were, among others, the subject of the investigation of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General. I have all the right to know what the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General have found out in the investigation of these two former commanding officers of the 56th IB. My right to know vital information about my son, and even more important, my son’s well-being has primacy over the perceived injury that may suffer or the perceived preemption of the final outcome of the investigation, assuming that it is still on-going (according to media reports the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General has concluded their investigations and submitted them to Gen. Esperon). Certainly, the perceived injury to certain parties by a “premature” disclosure of the report can never be as substantial as the very real risk of serious harm, or even death, that may befall my son with every delay in the efforts to find him.

The excuse of Gen. Esperon in turning down my legitimate request is unacceptable to me. I need to find Jonas and the report that Gen. Esperon is withholding from me I know will help me find him.

I repeat, I accuse the Army of the crime of kidnapping my son Jonas on April 28, 2007 at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City. I strongly suspect that either or both of the former commanding officers of the 56th IB, Lt. Col. Clement and Lt. Col. Feliciano are participants in that crime. And the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, is covering up the crime committed against Jonas.

Judge cites commanders criminally liable for slays

The doctrine of command responsibility may be used in cases involving extrajudicial killings, a Manila Regional Trial Court judge said Tuesday.Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of Manila RTC Branch 26 said the doctrine was still “new” to the courts but that the judiciary was now exploring its use in order to hold military commanders and police officers “criminally liable” for their subordinates’ actions.

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Another radio broadcaster killed in Nueva Ecija

A broadcaster from a government-run radio station was killed by a group of unidentified men in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija yesterday morning, reports reaching Camp Crame in Quezon City said.

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Another general breaks silence on murders

A third general of the Armed Forces has come forward to confirm that killings of political activists were discussed “openly” in a top-level military conference about two years ago.Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, the general said he was present when two other generals discussed the military’s course of action in the midst of the communist threat in key areas in Luzon.

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Generals bare plot to kill militant activists

Accused coup plotter-turned-senator Antonio Trillanes IV is not alone in his plan to resurrect the "Hello Garci" controversy and take the Arroyo administration to task for the unabated extrajudicial killings.A group of top military officials critical of President Macapagal-Arroyo has vowed to load the detained senator-elect with "ammunition" on these two issues once he begins work in the 14th Congress next month

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Poll fraud whistleblower killed

A public school official who exposed alleged electoral fraud in Pagalungan, Maguindanao, was gunned down Saturday night at an Islamic school in the municipality by unidentified men, police said Sunday.The fatality was identified as Musa Dimasidsing, Maguindanao Schools District Supervisor.

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Canada-based NGO to bring ‘Tagaytay 5’ case to int’l courts

A Canada-based international nongovernment organization will elevate the case of five farmers accused of being communist guerrillas to the international courts if justice is not served to them as soon as possible, an official of the group said.

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Bayan Muna: Coordinator was tortured

During the three days he was missing, a coordinator of Bayan Muna party-list in the Southern Mindanao region allegedly underwent torture at the hands of the military. This was the claim of Bayan Muna, which said it is now conducting its own investigation into the abduction of Gilbert Rey Cardiño, whom police said had "surfaced" last Friday. Read the rest of the article from GMA News.

How to sign a petition protesting the killings

Several online petitions have been made.

How to send a letter of appeal

What to write

Every case is different. Some entries on this site have sample letters that you can use. See all those entries by clicking here. Feel free to modify or add to the sample letter!

Who to send it to

Again, every case is different, but generally, the people below should definitely receive a copy!

1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 /+63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 /+63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

3. Ms. Leila De Lima
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188

4. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763

5. Mr. Alberto Agra
Acting Secretary
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
Fax: +63 2 521 1614

Gunmen abduct officer of leftist political party

Unidentified gunmen abducted a regional officer of a leftist political party Wednesday in the southern Philippines, police said. Gilbert Rey Cardeno, regional coordinator of the Bayan Muna (Nation First) party, was on his way home when he was kidnapped in Koronadal City in South Cotabato province, 1,020 kilometres south of Manila. Read the rest of the article on

Account of Pastor Berlin Guerrero of his abduction and torture by the military

Statement of Pastor Guerrero

What does it take a government to have the nerve to abduct, torture, and terrorize my family on the basis of an old inciting to sedition case and a baseless murder charge?

Far more absurd is the accusation that I am the Secretary of the CPP Provincial committee in Cavite . This lie that they tried to extract from me by means of physical, mental and psychological torture and projecting me in public as a "hand-gun and grenade carrying rebel."

I am a Pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and never participated in any killings, illegal or unlawful activities, or any common crime.

My family and I have just taken a tricycle from the local church which I have served for two consecutive years (June 2006-2007) where we just celebrated UCCP's and the local church's 59th and 72nd anniversaries respectively (On May 27, at around 5:30 pm, a white van cut the tricycle's path and military-looking men quickly alighted to grab me; despite my plea that they show me the warrant they said they had. I was man-handled and forcefully shoved inside the van, put a handcuff on my hands behind me, covered my head with a cloth and packing tape, was beaten, punched and kicked repeatedly.

They brought me to a place I didn't know. Here, still handcuffed, men would take turn interrogating and beating my head with their fists and blunt objects. (Like a 1,000 ml mineral bottle and other objects). All throughout, layers of plastic bags covered my head. My torturers would tighten the bag until I could no longer breathe. I passed out two times and urinated in my pants.

They made me shake my head for about an hour and beat me whenever I stopped they said they would do these things to my family if I did not cooperate. I was forced to give names and addresses of my whole family, officers of church and conferences, name of my administrator at Union Theological Seminary where I am studying theology, leaders of progressive labour and peasant organizations in Southern Tagalog.

They opened my computer by forcing me to give the password, got my e-mail password. They erased all of my church, school and personal files and replace it with documents that belong to the so-called underground left.

After about twelve hours, they put me back on the van still handcuffed and blindfolded. They threatened to kill me, burn me or bury me. They continued to beat me and make new names for me. They got my sim card.

They called me Pastor-Impostor. And lectured me on the "evils" of communism and how the church, legal people's organizations are "used" to create trouble by criticizing the government.

When the van stopped, it took an hour before they led me down, made me sit down and lie down. After an hour, they removed my blindfold. Here I learned I was in Imus, Cavite specifically at Camp Pantaleon Garcia, Cavite Provincial Police Office (PPO).

Later on in the afternoon, that was the only time I saw the warrants of arrest and to what unit of the PNP I was turned over to by my abductors.

Now that I have the time to collect my thoughts and view my situation inside what police offices "call a subhuman" cell, let me make a preliminary analysis of my unfinished ordeal.

(1) The unit which abducted me is an organized AFP unit which operates covertly or below the law. It is composed of elements coming from different units of AFP's Intelligence Community. As a counter-insurgency unit, it uses ex-NPAs. They are lawless enforcers.

(2) Making use of court cases which involves suspected personalities of the left, no matter how weak, these cases may be served and used to make the arrest legitimate. In my case, I am implicated in a Murder Case in 1990. Case files show that I do not have a direct or indirect link to the crime.

(3) To bring me to the court by means of the arrest warrants is secondary. Their primary objective is to extract information from me by means of torture.

(4) It is also meant to terrorize my family, my relatives, friends, church members and practically everyone I know and who know me. It creates a thinking that this repeated attack on a person's right, which may end in incarceration or death, can happen to anybody.

I am outraged by their branding me as a "Pastor-Impostor" because it is an affront to the sacred office I have sworn to serve God Almighty who knows every heart and mind.

Finally, I hold the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government responsible for the abduction and torture I have suffered and the subhuman captivity I am forced to accept. The GMA Administration should listen to the repeated cries of the people to stop violation of human rights and the political killings.

They may have put in jail, but my spirit is free and firm because God is with us always.

United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Inside the Camp Pantaleon Garcia
Cavite Provincial Police Office
Imus, Cavite
May 30, 2007