MANILA, Philippines — Even if it vowed to help Edita Burgos’ efforts to find her missing son, Jonas, Malacañang is not about to pressure the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to release a copy of a report the Burgoses believe is crucial to pinpointing the activist’s abductors.
Edita has accused Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. of covering up for the soldiers she believes abducted Jonas by refusing to release a copy of the report of the Provost Marshal into the loss a license plate from an impounded vehicle kept in an Army base in Bulacan.
Police investigating the abduction of Jonas, son of the late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., from the Ever Gotesco mall in Quezon City on April 28 traced the license plate — TAB 194 — of the vehicle used in the incident to the one parked in the Bulacan headquarters of the 56th Infantry Battalion.
Reacting to Edita’s accusation, Esperon has ordered the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO) to study whether the military can release the report, marked “restricted,” to the Burgos family.
“We will leave that matter to the chief of staff because normally, military reports are classified as either restricted, confidential, secret or top secret. So we leave that to the military commanders…to determine what reports can be given out,” Ermita told reporters in an interview in Malacañang Friday.
Edita met with Ermita last month to seek help in locating Jonas.
Jonas, an agriculturist, had been training farmer-members of the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Bulacan (Peasant Alliance of Bulacan), a provincial chapter of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines), in organic farming.