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Burgos ma in US to raise awareness of Philippine 'Desaparecidos'

LOS ANGELES – Edith Burgos, 64-year old mother of a missing human rights activist, lamented the brazenness of the reported abduction of his son claiming that to this day the Philippine government continues to give her the run-around in the search for truth and justice.

Implicating the country’s military for the alleged crime, the widow of veteran newspaperman Jose Burgos pleaded for the return of her son Jonas during a special evening event entitled "In Search of Jonas" held recently at the Rosewood United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.

Jonas “Jay Jay” Burgos – he turned 38 last Easter Sunday – was having lunch at a restaurant inside a mall in Quezon City on April 28, last year, when four armed men and a woman accosted and forcibly loaded him in a maroon van with Plate No. TAB 194. Subsequent police investigation indicated that the plate number belong to a vehicle impounded inside the camp of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquartered in Bulacan, Mrs. Burgos said. However, the AFP spokesman later claimed that the car plate was stolen by “left-leaning” elements, Burgos added.

The missing Jonas was an agriculture graduate of the Benguet State University and a trainer of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (Alliance of Farmers in Bulacan) an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Movement of Farmers in the Philippines) supposedly tagged by the military as a subversive organization. Mrs. Burgos disputed any insinuation that her son is a subversive.

Burgos, who has a doctorate in Educational Management and had a career in education and journalism, was concluding a seven-city US speaking tour – it included the New York/New Jersey area; Minneapolis; Washington, D.C., Seattle, Washington; the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento – to raise awareness of the plight of Philippine "Desaparecidos" or forced disappearances. Human rights advocates implicate the Philippine military in the alleged abductions.

The Los Angeles event was sponsored by GMA Watch (a Philippine human rights monitoring network), the United Methodist Church, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Tulong sa Bayan, Habi Arts, and Bayan USA. She was preceded in the lectern by Mervin Toquero of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines who explained a Powerpoint presentation of the human rights situation in the homeland.

As part of her US itinerary, Burgos had audiences with several members of the US Congress in Washington, D.C. In New York, the city’s Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) facilitated a visit with Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings and Summary Executions, at New York University.

It was also learned that Burgos had filed a petition for habeas corpus with the Philippine Supreme Court, and a petition for Writ of Amparo with the Court of Appeals. She also had filed complaints with the Philippines National Police, the Commission on Human Rights, the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Task Force USIG National Capital Region, and the Presidential Committee on Human Rights.

In September 2007, she filed a complaint with the Working Group for Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (WGEID) in the United Nations in Geneva.

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