MANILA, Philippines — The details provided by a military intelligence agent and another officer in the security services on the abduction of Jonas Burgos has only confirmed information the family of the missing activist received earlier, his mother said Friday.
“It only confirms our suspicion. We are happy that somebody who knows and who has the guts is coming out now. We received the same information before but we couldn’t come out with it because we needed to confirm it first,” Edita Burgos said in Filipino in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net.
Jonas, son of the late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., has been missing since April 28 when he was snatched from a restaurant at the Ever Gotesco mall in Quezon City by three men and a woman.
This week, a military intelligence agent spoke to INQUIRER.net and confirmed that the young Burgos, an agriculturist who trained members of the leftist Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines), had been abducted by one of the military intelligence groups (MIG) under the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
While the agent admitted he could not provide proof of the young Burgos’ fate, he said operational experience led him to believe he had already been killed.
He added that Jonas had been targeted because the unit that seized him believed him to be a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines engaged in recruitment.
Another source, also an officer in the security forces, had earlier said he could positively identify the man and woman in artist’s sketches of suspects in the abduction and confirm they are ISAFP agents. He also confirmed that the vehicles used in the abduction are used by ISAFP.
“I believe in the institution [military],” Ms. Burgos said. “There are just some bad eggs. I hope more [officers] will come out to talk about the case, especially the whereabouts of Jonas.”
Ms. Burgos said she was also told the sketches of her son’s abductors showed an “uncanny similarity” to military agents allegedly involved in last year’s abduction of so-called Erap 5, supporters of deposed president Joseph Estrada, including a policeman, who were held incommunicado and apparently tortured.
After hedging on the issue, the ISAFP belatedly admitted having arrested the five, who were linked to an alleged plot to topple the Arroyo government.
While the military was suspected early on in the disappearance of Jonas, these suspicions were bolstered after police investigators traced the license plate — TAB-194 — on one of the vehicles used in abduction to an impounded vehicle, which had been kept at the headquarters of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion in Norzagaray, Bulacan.
Although Ms. Burgos had earlier stopped short of accusing the military of seizing her son, the refusal of Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to give her a copy of the Provost Marshal report on how the license plate had disappeared from the military camp prodded her to accuse him of covering up for his men.
Asked for her reaction to the military agent’s opinion that Jonas is dead, Ms. Burgos said: “There are so many speculations. [The agent] may just be trying to be charitable. But I believe my son is alive, that’s why I’m asking them — whoever is listening in now [on the phone conversation] — to produce him.”
The mother of the missing activist said she has turned to prayer to cope with the uncertainty about her son’s fate.
“He has been missing two months and eight days now [as of Friday],” she noted.
“How do I cope? I have put everything in the hands of the Lord,” she said. “I know He loves Jonas more than I love him and He will take care of him. We put ourselves in His hands every day. We draw our strength from prayer. We have people coming up to us saying they’re praying for Jonas. We draw our strength from that. I hope [whoever is listening in] will hear our prayer.”