Military records in Jonas Burgos case are secret – Court
The Court of Appeals upholds military secrecy in the Jonas Burgos disappearance case

MANILA, Philippines – Military documents related to the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos are secret.

The Court of Appeals has made this ruling as it rejected a motion by the Burgos family for it to order the military to produce documents, such as its own investigation into Burgos’s disapparance, in connection with the case.

In a five-page decision by Associate Justice Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente, the CA’s special former seventh division said the documents that lawyer Ricardo Fernandez, who represents the Burgos family, sought to be produced from AFP chief Gen Jessie Dellosa and Army commanding general Lt Gen  Emmanuel Bautista are considered confidential.

“To the mind of this Court, the documents that Atty. Fernandez requests to be produced belongs to the same category of confidential documents which the Supreme Court has reserved for its exclusive cognizance and appreciation,” the Court ruled.

The CA noted that based on the Supreme Court’s resolutions dated Sept 6, 2011 and Nov 29, 2011, the latter said it had the exclusive right to receive and examine documents which are considered confidential in nature.

The appellate court also agreed with Dellosa and Bautista that they are not competent to testify on the Burgos case since they have no personal knowledge of Burgos’s disapperance, which happened 5 years ago, on April 28, 2007, at the Hapag Kainan restaurant, Ever Gotesco Mall, at Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City on April 28, 2007.

Dellosa and Bautista were appointed to their current posts late last year.

On March 9, 2012, Fernandez told the court in a motion that former AFP chief of staff Gen Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., had submitted a letter dated May 14, 2007 to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), together with the summary of information (SOI) on Burgos, stating that the military was conducting a continuing probe on his abduction.

AFP’s secret probe

Yet, the AFP has not submitted its own findings on the case and has not produced relevant information, such as their SOI on Burgos, before the CHR.

This prompted the Burgos family, through Fernandez, to ask the court to compel Dellosa and Bautista to produce the records and testify on them.

The CA said the Burgos camp failed to meet the “test of definiteness” before a subpoena duces tecum may be validly issued.

The appellate court noted that the motion failed to identify the documents and the persons who have custody of the documents they sought to be produced, as required under Section 14 (c) of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.

In an earlier report submitted to the Supreme Court, the Commission on Human Rights said there’s “overwhelming evidence” against 1Lt Harry Baliaga Jr. of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion (IB) based in Bulacan in connection with Burgos’s abduction.

The CHR has also recommended to the High Court to order the Department of Justice to file kidnapping/enforced disappearance and/or arbitrary detention charges against Baliaga and put two witnesses under the government’s Witness Protection Program.

Burgos is a son of the late press freedom icon Joe Burgos. Read more about him and his disappearance in this story. –


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