MANILA, Philippines – The family members of Jonas Burgos said on Friday, April 26, that they would only have closure once the "truth" is revealed on the activist's 12-year-old abduction case.
Jonas' wife, Mary Ann, made the statement as the abduction of her husband entered its 12th year.
“So long as we, the families of the desaparecidos, have our breaths, no one can stop us in our fight to surface our disappeared loved ones, for only when they are surfaced, when the whole truth is revealed to the public and the victims and their families given justice and the guilty punished, will there be closure,” she said.
Jonas was abducted on April 28, 2007, during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. (READ: Why would the Army abduct Jonas Burgos?)
His case is the one of the most documented victims of enforced disappearance in the Philippines. But 12 years since he was abducted in Quezon City, justice is yet to be achieved by his family who has endlessly searched for their missing loved one. (READ: Jonas Burgos: Trapped in web of lives)
Jonas" mother, Edita Burgos, said that there was even "less hope" to attain justice under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: 'Bigger than Jonas': Edita Burgos carries torch for grieving women)
“There is less hope of justice for the victims of enforced disappearance,” she said. "The government only reveals their evil design to sweep under the rug all the cases of enforced disappearances, as if their memories will be erased.
"This is the height of insensitivity to the plight of the families," Edita added.
During the commemoration of Jonas' disappearance at the Commission on Human RIghts, the Burgos family also slammed the government's move to delist cases of enforced disappearances at the United Nations.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in February announced that the government was asking the UN Working Group to delist at least 625 cases of enforced and involuntary disappearances recorded from 1975 to 2012.
Mary Ann likened the government's plan to delist these cases to scraping an open wound to the bone, adding that it showed "how insincere the government is in upholding human rights."
"They intend to legally disappear completely the victims along with all of us, their families. This is their concept of 'closure,'" she said.
Burgos is one of at least 1,996 documented cases of enforced disappearance in the Philippines since the time of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, according to data from the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND). (READ: What you need to know about enforced disappearances in the Philippines)
Families of victims lament that despite the existence of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, the first of its kind in Asia, the law has yet to help them in their quest for justice. (READ: Poor law implementation denies desaparecidos justice) – With reports from Jodesz Gavilan/Rappler.com
Josiah Antonio is a Rappler intern. He is a 4th year student at the University of the Philippines Diliman taking BA Philippine Studies, major in Journalism and Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino.