THE Department of Justice on Tuesday ordered its concerned officials to immediately act on recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) pertaining to the abduction of human-rights activist Jonas Joseph Burgos.
In Memorandum Order 001, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima instructed Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to review the CHR investigation report on the Burgos case, and to coordinate with the agency’s Commissioner Manuel Mamauag, the members of the agency’s Special Investigation Team and the offended party—Edita Burgos — for the filing of appropriate complaint for preliminary investigation against concerned military officers allegedly involved in the case.
De lima also ordered Cavite Provincial Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco and National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Reynaldo Esmeralda to immediately coordinate with the CHR’s Special Investigating Team for information regarding the participation of the Military Intelligence Group of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the abduction of Burgos.
Velasco and Esmeralda were also asked to clarify to the commission team the whereabouts of the case records of the so-called Erap 5.
The Erap 5 refers to the group that abducted five supporters of former President Joseph Estrada.
It was suspected that group was also involved in the abduction of Burgos.
Bulacan Provincial Prosecutor Alfredo Geronimo was also ordered to review the criminal charges filed against Edmond Dag-uman alias “Delfin De Guzman” before the Malolos City Regional Trial Court, and recommend appropriate actions.
In Memorandum Order 002, de Lima ordered lawyer Martin Menez, the acting program director of the Witness Protection Program (WPP), to coordinate with the CHR in studying possible admission into the program of the two witnesses in the Burgos abduction.
The Justice secretary issued the two orders after the CHR’s Special Investigation Team submitted its “Investigative Report on the Enforced Disappearance of Jonas Burgos to the Supreme Court in relation to the petition for a writ of amparo filed by the mother of Jonas.”
The commission recommended that Jeffrey Cabintoy and Elsa Agasang be immediately admitted to the WPP.
PMA graduate implicated
In their testimonies, the Cabintoy and Agasang claimed that they saw Burgos being abducted by suspects on April 28, 2007 inside a restaurant along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
Through a Philippine Military Academy (PMA) yearbook, the two witnesses positively identified First Lt. Harry Ballaga Jr. of the Philippine Army as the one who participated in the abduction of Burgos.
Also, de Lima ordered the WPP to submit a report on results of their evaluation.
In its report, the CHR recommended to the Supreme Court that the Justice department commence the filing of criminal charges for kidnapping, enforced disappearance and/or arbitrary detention against Ballaga because of “overwhelming evidence” against him.
The High Tribunal said that theCHR report was important in the decision they will make on a petition filed by Edita Burgos seeking to nullify the ruling of the Court of Appeals that found no sufficient basis to implicate the military in the abduction of Jonas Burgos.