THE Court of Appeals (CA) stood firm on its decision finding the military accountable for the disappearance of Jonas Burgos after he was abducted in 2007.
In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente and concurred in by Associate Justices Remedios Salazar-Fernando and Franchito Diamante, the appellate court denied the motion for partial reconsideration filed by the chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The AFP and PNP wanted the court to strike out its findings that the military and the police did not exercise extraordinary diligence in conducting investigating the disappearance of Burgos. The court ruled that both institutions were accountable for the enforced disappearance.
In its petition, the AFP argued that it should not be held accountable because Burgos was never in its custody. It added that there is no evidence to prove allegations that the government was involved in the abduction.
But the appeals court found no merit in the petition filed by the AFP and PNP.
It said that the PNP’s failure to “elicit leads and information from Jeffrey Cabintoy, who personally witnessed [the abduction]and who was able to positively identify his abductor, is eloquent proof of its failure to exercise extraordinary diligence in the conduct of its investigation.”
It said the AFP was equally accountable because it made no serious effort to look deeper into Burgos’s disappearance “simply because [Burgos] is allegedly not in its custody.”
In an earlier ruling in March, the CA recognized the abduction as an enforced disappearance and thus covered by the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.
A Writ of Amparo grants families of victims of forced disappearances protection as well as the right to visit military camps and pore over government documents related to the case.
Last April 1, Burgos’ mother, Edita, filed an urgent petition asking the Supreme Court to accept new evidence and to reopen the case of her son. Among the evidence she presented were a photo of Jonas supposedly while in detention, a report after his apprehension and other military documents pertaining to Jonas.
In response, the High Court ordered the AFP to locate the military officers determine the whereabouts of the military personnel named in the post-apprehension report which was dated April 30, 2007, or two days after Burgos’ disappearance.