Abducted Filipino Activist Now Tagged As Maoist Rebel

July 19, 2007 at 7:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Jul) – After Manila sacked a state prosecutor for linking six soldiers in the disappearance of a political activist, the chief of the army on Thursday tagged the missing man as a communist insurgent.

“It appears he is a leftist. He is a member of the underground NPA,” said Lt. Romeo Tolentino, referring to Jonas Burgos, who was abducted in April at a restaurant in Manila.

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

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 Military Intelligence Group-15.

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

Velasco was removed from the case after he implicated the soldiers in the abduction of Burgos.

The army chief said Burgos belongs to the New People’s Army operating in Bulacan province. Tolentino previously denied the involvement of soldiers in the Burgos case.

An informant, also a soldier, has provided Velasco the names of the five soldiers linked to the abduction of Burgos.

Burgos’ family denied the allegations of the military. The activist’s mother, Edith Burgos, said the military was behind the abduction her son.

“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 woman 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.

The army 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.Tolentino last week linked communist insurgents in the disappearance of Burgos. (Juley Reyes and Juan Magtanggol)


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