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Lone accused in Jonas Burgos abduction walks free

In this file photo, Edith Burgos, mother of abducted activist Jonas Burgos, stands outside the national headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. File photo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:26 p.m.) —The lone accused in the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos, who has been missing since 2007, has walked free of charges.

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court on Thursday morning acquitted Army Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. from arbitrary detention charges filed against him.

Talking to reporters in a televised interview, Editha Burgos, the missing activist's mother, said: “This is a bad day. I feel so bad, but we will find Jonas.”

Burgos went missing on April 28, 2007. The National Union of People’s Lawyers, in its prepared case abstract, recounted that the farmer-activist was dining in a restaurant in a Quezon City mall when he was “dragged and abducted” by six armed men and one woman.

The NUPL was the private prosecutor in the case.

A complaint for arbitrary detention was filed against Baliaga, a, an officer at the Bravo Company of the 56th Infantry Battalion; Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commanding officer of the 56th IB; and Gen. Eduardo Año — the current Armed Force chief was the chief of Army Intelligence then — in 2011. 

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A separate complaint for obstruction of justice was filed against Hermogenes Esperon — AFP chief at the time and now national security adviser — Lt. Gen Romeo Tolentino, Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano and Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon Jr.  Tolentino was commanding general of the Philippine Army and later succeeded by Yano.

The DOJ, in a review resolution, dropped the complaints against Feliciano, Año, Esperon, Tolentino, Yano, and Razon.

Only the arbitrary detention charge against Baliaga was filed in court.

Baliaga, also talking to reporters said that he is “happy” that justice has been served in his case, but not for Mrs. Burgos. The Army officer said that he plans to return to serving the state in full duty status.

Burgos remains missing to this day .—with reports from Romina Cabrera

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