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DOJ to rule on Burgos disappearance case

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A senior government prosecutor on Friday said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will soon rule on its investigation on the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos.

State Prosecutor George Yarte, member of a fact-finding panel tasked to probe Burgos' disappearance, said that the case has been submitted for resolution after the preliminary investigation was concluded last year.

Yarte, however, could not provide a more definite date for the issuance of the resolution.

He said that the resolution will soon be submitted for the approval of Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.

The case involved the complaint for arbitrary detention filed against Philippine Army Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr., Col. Melquiades Feliciano and Col. Eduardo Ano.

Baliaga was identified by one of the witnesses as among those who abducted Burgos from a restaurant in a mall in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City on Apr. 28, 2007.

Also named respondents in the case were retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr.; retired Philippine Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino; and retired Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr.

They were charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly conspiring to cover up for the members of the military who were allegedly involved in the commission of the crime.

Responding to President Aquino's order, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued a directive to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to form a special team that will conduct a new investigation on Burgos' disappearance.

De Lima explained that President Aquino wants the NBI to come up with the truth, which requires probers to look into all angles – including a possible cover-up in earlier investigations conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“NBI’s mandate is to ferret out the truth through an exhaustive and independent probe. Hence, possible cover-up would be necessarily and inevitably be part of the inquiry,” she told The STAR.

She said it is likely for the NBI to consider inviting former and active military and police officers who handled the previous probes on the missing activist.

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

BURGOS

COMMONWEALTH AVENUE

DE LIMA

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

DIRECTOR GENERAL AVELINO RAZON JR.

EDUARDO ANO

HARRY BALIAGA JR.

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

PRESIDENT AQUINO

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