‘Hearsay’ testimony leads to acquittal of Jonas Burgos abductor


A LOCAL court acquitted a military officer charged with arbitrary detention over the disappearance of an activist 10 years ago after the prosecution failed to prove his guilt.

Judge Alfonso Ruiz 2nd of Branch 216 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court said the evidence presented against Army Maj. Harry Baliaga, Jr. was based on “hearsay” as the prosecution did not present witnesses who could directly identify Baliaga as the abductor of Jonas Burgos.

“No eyewitness testified to identify the accused Baliaga as one of those responsible for the disappearance of Jonas Burgos. In fact, none of the witnesses identified him in court…This kind of testimony is hearsay in nature,” said Ruiz in his ruling released on Thursday.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Special Investigation Team members Carlos Royeras and Robinson Vinas were called to testify in court and identified Jeffrey Cabintoy as an eyewitness to the Burgos abduction.

Cabintoy, himself, however, never appeared in court during the four-year trial, prompting Ruiz to brand the testimonies of the two human rights investigators as “hearsay”.

Burgos was last seen in April 2007 getting dragged out of the Hapag Kainan restaurant inside the Ever Gotesco Mall and into a vehicle allegedly by Baliaga and six armed men and a woman.

Only Baliaga was arrested 10 years after the incident, but he posted a P40,000-bail. GLEE JALEA




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