AFP officer in Burgos case posts bail


The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officer implicated in the 2007 disappearance of political activist Jonas Burgos posted bail for his temporary liberty on Friday in a Quezon City court.

Major Harry Baliaga Jr. posted a P40,000 cash bond at the sala of Judge Alfonso Ruiz 2nd of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 where his case is now being heard.

Baliaga posted the bail after Ruiz issued an arrest order against him a few days ago as the court found it necessary to place him under immediate custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice.

Court records show that the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing of charges against Baliaga after he was allegedly positively identified by an eyewitness as among those who abducted Burgos in a restaurant in Quezon City on April 28, 2007.

The DOJ review resolution noted that Baliaga failed to substantiate his defense when he could have easily secured affidavits of relatives and friends who could have affirmed his presence in Benguet province during the time of the abduction.

During the preliminary investigation, Baliaga averred that he does not know and has never met Burgos.

He also questioned the testimony of the witness, who is a busboy at the restaurant, as it is highly improbable for him to remember the details of the abduction.

Baliaga said that he was at the house of his former girlfriend in Baguio City on the day of Burgos’ abduction.

But the investigating prosecutor said the positive identification of the respondent would prevail over his “unsubstantiated denial coupled with alibi.”

The case stemmed from the complaints filed by Burgos’ mother Edita before the DOJ accusing several officials from AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) of perpetrating the forced disappearance of her son.

Aside from Baliaga, Edita also accused former AFP chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon, former Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Tolentino, Lieutenant General Alexander Yano and former PNP chief Avelino Razon of obstruction of justice.

Also included in the complaint were Colonel Melquiades Feliciano and Colonel Eduardo Año.

However, the DOJ prosecutors dismissed the charges against the other officers due to lack of probable cause as a murder complaint was also junked against the respondents
Baliaga’s arraignment has been set for Nov. 12 at 8:30 a.m.

Jing Villamente


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