Philippine Military Intelligence Denies Hand In Abduction Of Political Activist

July 10, 2007 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 10 Jul) – The Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) has denied Tuesday any role in the abduction of a political activist, even as a government task force ordered the investigation of six soldiers implicated in the case.

The soldiers were suspected as behind the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, who was seized in April at a restaurant in Quezon City. His family accused the military as behind the abduction.

Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco, of the Presidential Task Force Against Media Harassment, ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to summon the soldiers to shed light on the case.

ISAFP chief Brigadier General Delfin Bangit said no soldiers from his group were involved in the abduction of the activist.

Five of the six soldiers ordered investigated were identified as Army Lt. Col. Noel Clement, former commander of the 56th Infantry Battalion; Army Lt. Jaime Mendaro, of the 56th Infantry Battalion; Army Sgt. Jason Roxas and Air Force Cpl. Maria Joana Francisco; Army Sgt. Aron Arroyo and another soldier whose initials are TL, all allegedly assigned with the ISAFP’s Military Intelligence Group-15.

An informant, also a soldier, has provided Velasco the names of the five suspects.

“My son Jonas, according to witnesses, was forcibly taken by a group of six males and one female while he was having lunch at the Hapag Kainan Restaurant in Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, on April 28, 2007 at about 1.30 p.m. As he was being forcibly taken, he was shouting “Aktibista lang po ako! (I am only an activist).”

“I realized that Jonas could be missing when he did not come home that night of April 28th,” the activist’s mother, Edith Burgos, said.

Of all the accused, only Clement has denied involvement in the Burgos abduction. ”I will clear my name. I have nothing to hide,” Clement told reporters in Manila.

“I don’t know why I am dragged into this. If this were a book, I was in chapter one. I impounded the vehicle but it doesn’t mean that I will always be responsible for it,” Clement said.

Bangit said he is willing to meet with the mother of Burgos and face any investigations.

“I can still look into her eyes and say the ISAFP has nothing to do with the disappearance of Burgos,” Bangit said. “I can say with conviction and with all honesty that ISAFP is not in any way connected in this disappearance.”

Burgos’ mother said she will face Bangit in the proper forum. “I will meet him in the proper forum and at the proper time,” she said.

Burgos is a member of a peasant organization in Bulacan province called the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Bulacan (Farmers’ Alliance in Bulacan).

His family said one witness in the abduction saw Burgos forced into a vehicle with license plate number TAB 194, which was later traced to a vehicle impounded by the 56th Infantry Battalion in Bulacan province.

Army officials said the license plate was stolen from the vehicle inside their base. The vehicle, owned by Mudlong Mauro, was seized by army soldiers for transporting illegal lumber in June 2006.

Clement said he was relieved by Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano as commander of the 56th Infantry Battalion and had nothing to do with the missing license plate. “When I was relieved, I turned over everything inside the camp (to my successor),” he said.

Clement’s unit was pulled out of Bulacan in January this year and replaced by the Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Edison Caga.

Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, the Philippine Army chief, last week linked communist insurgents in the disappearance of Burgos. (Juley Reyes)

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: