MANILA, Philippines — An opposition senator is calling for a Senate investigation into the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos.
Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada has drafted a Senate resolution calling for an inquiry in aid of legislation not only into Burgos’ case but also the increasing number of enforced disappearances of activists under the Arroyo administration.
Burgos, 37, son of the late press freedom fighter Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., was abducted by armed men inside the Ever Gotesco shopping mall in Quezon City last April 28. He has not been seen nor heard from since.
Estrada said he will ask the Senate committees on human rights and national defense to “dig deeper” into the alleged involvement of military personnel in Burgos’ disappearance.
The Department of Justice is looking into the case but Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco was relieved by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales after Velasco he linked military personnel, including agents of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), to the abduction.
Velasco said witnesses implicated three ISAFP agents — Master Sergeant Aaron Arroyo, Technical Sergeant Jason Roxas, Corporal Maria Joanna Francisco and a certain “TL” — as well as Lieutenant Colonel Noel Clement and Lieutenant Jaime Mendaros of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion based in Norzagaray, Bulacan.
Estrada said he will file the resolution when the 14th Congress formally opens on July 23.
Under the new rules, the Senate will only start accepting proposed resolutions on July 23.
Estrada wants military officers summoned to the public hearings.
He also wants top administration officials led by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita summoned to explain why Malacañang has not signed and endorsed to the Senate the United Nations’ International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
His draft resolution also calls on the Senate to prioritize bills penalizing acts of torture and the involuntary disappearance of persons in custody.
He has also re-filed a bill that seeks to create a Philippine Commission on Missing Persons.
The Supreme Court on Monday sponsored a top level summit on extrajudicial killings, as the string of killings and disappearances of activists has been condemned by the international community and Church and civil society groups here.