Tag Archives: Jonas Burgos

Ex-Army Chief Denies Hand in Jonas Disappearance

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA – Former Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino on Monday denied that neither he nor any of his men were involved in the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, political activist and son of press freedom fighter Jose Burgos, almost a year ago.

Tolentino, now working as an undersecretary at the National Security Council, was summoned to testify in the ongoing hearing on the petition for writ of amparo filed by Jonas mother, Edita Burgos, to shed light on his knowledge about the names “Ramon,” and “Mina” who cropped up during the military’s initial investigation on Jonas’ case.

The former Army chief admitted mentioning the names of Ramon and Mina in an interview conducted by Newsbreak magazine in connection with Jona’s disappearance.

He recounted that when he ordered his men to go around in Bulacan province to check on the background of Jonas, the people they interviewed, who refused to be identified, told them to check instead who Ka Ramon and Ka Mina where.

But, Tolentino said they failed to gather more information that would link Jonas to Ka Ramon and Ka Mina as the people were afraid to talk.

“We made an informal investigation a long, long time ago and that is the only thing that we had. The people are afraid of giving information about Ka Ramon and Ka Mina. It was a blank wall after that,” Tolentino said.

Tolentino said that until after his retirement last August, he has not learned about the true identity of “Ka Ramon” and his relation to Jonas.

Tolentino said he could not recall whether he gave orders shortly before his retirement to investigate whether Ramon and Jonas were one and the same person.

Although he sympathized with the mother and other relatives of Jonas, Tolentino said he could not do anything but to order his men to cooperate with the agencies investigating Jonas case.

He also denied that the Army would resort to abducting people just to neutralize the operation of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“It is not the business of the army to abduct people. Even my car was implicated (in Jonas abduction), maybe those giving the information are doing it in bad faith,” Tolentino added.

Mrs. Burgos’ lawyer Ricardo Fernandez said Tolentino’s is just trying to cover-up for the alleged involvement of his men belonging to 56th Infantry Battalion in the abduction and disappearance of Jonas.

Fernandez noted that Tolentino’s claim that he does not know who Ka Ramon is contradicts Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon that Ka Ramon and Jonas is one and the same person.

The CA’s next hearing on the case is set on May where another army officer Col. Eduardo Año is expected to testify.

Earlier, the CA Former Seventh Division ruled that the testimonies of Tolentino and Año are vital in the resolution of the Burgos case in light of the testimony of Capt. George Ventayen at the hearing held on April 7, 2008 in Baguio City.

Ventayen, the prosecutor in the case of 2Lt. Dick Abletes, testified in executive session on April 7, 2008 in Baguio City on the charges against the latter and his evidence in prosecuting the case.

He admitted that Lt. Abletes has been charged with three violations of the Articles of War for passing off classified information to two members of CPP-NPA.

The prosecution claimed that Tolentino and Año’s testimonies are needed considering that Ventayen has admitted that one of the two members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) who received the working order of battle from Abletes was identified as certain “Liza,” which is the alias of one of three witnesses of the police in the Jonas case.

Mrs. Burgos said that Liza is in fact Melissa Reyes, who was also reported missing on April 28, 2007 at the same time Jonas was reportedly abducted.

Año is the head of the Intelligence Service Group of the Philippine Army mentioned in the Newsbreak article who admitted that Abletes was caught on March 26, 2007 giving classified documents to a member of the CPP-NPA.

(www.asianjournal.com)

Leave a comment

Filed under Homeland, News

‘Military Leaders Should Testify in Jonas’ Abduction’

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA — Editha Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas, Wednesday sought the dismissal of the motions filed by former Army commander Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino and Col. Eduardo Ano seeking to quash the subpoenas issued to them by the Court of Appeals (CA) compelling them to testify in the ongoing hearing on the petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo in connection with the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, political activist and son of press freedom fighter Jose Burgos.

The Burgos’ lawyers, led by Atty. Ricardo Fernandez, insisted that Tolentino should testify on what he knew about a certain Ramon or Jonas and when he came to know about it.

Fernandez said that Tolentino was reported in the newspapers on July 4, 2007, that at the celebration of the Philippine Air Force 60th founding anniversary, he told reporters “that the names ‘Ramon,’ ‘Mina’ and ‘Tabara’ have been included in the reports of field agents gathering information for the probe in Bulacan province.”

He was quoted to have said that “we have a research, a study and we have a lead. The names of Ramon, Mina, Front Committee 12 and Tabara are cropping up.”

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) insisted that the testimony being sought by Burgos is irrelevant to the issue in the case, which is whether respondents have violated or are violating Jonas’ right to life, liberty and security.

What the petitioner wants, according to the OSG, is for Tolentino to testify in a case of an officer based in Central Luzon who was arrested in an entrapment operation.

The officer being alluded to is a certain Lt. Dick Abletes who is now facing court martial for allegedly passing off vital military information to two New People’s Army members, a male and a female.

The OSG noted that Capt. George Ventayen, the prosecutor in the case, testified in an executive session on April 7, 2008 in Baguio City on the charges against Abletes and presented his evidence in prosecuting the case.

In the said session, according to the OSG , it was shown that the male NPA member to whom Abletes passed on vital  military information was not Jonas.

“After seeing all the documents, confidential or not, brought by Capt. Ventayen, it is clear that Jonas Joseph Burgos has nothing to do with the prosecution of Abletes. Thus, the speculation that the court martial case against Abletes has something to do with Jonas has been disproved,” the OSG said.

“Accordingly, Lt. Gen. Romeo Tolentino’s testimony is not relevant to the issue in this case….Also Lt. Gen. Tolentino had already retired from the Philippine Army; hence, he is no longer privy to the developments in the Abletes case,” the OSG added.

Aside from Tolentino, Col. Eduardo Ano was also sought to be subpoenaed by Burgos’ camp for his participation in the case.

Ano is the head of the Intelligence Service Group of the Philippine Army mentioned in the same Newsbreak article who admitted that Lt. Abletes was caught on March 26 giving classified documents to a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Fernandez said Capt. Ventayen has testified that indeed Lt. Abletes has been charged with three violations of the Articles of War for passing off classified information to two members of CPP-NPA.

He noted that Ano’s testimony is needed in light of Ventayen’s admission that the two CPP-NP who received the working order of battle from Lt. Abletes was identified as certain “Liza,” which is the alias of one of three witnesses of the police in the Jonas case whose true name is Melissa Concepcion Reyes.

The meeting between Lt. Abletes, Liza and her male companion was recorded, according to Fernandez, on video which was played at the hearing on April 7.

The petitioner identified Liza to be in fact Melissa Reyes, who was also reported missing on April 28, 2007, at the same time Jonas was reportedly abducted.

“Petitioner would like Col. Ano to testify and disclose any information which may lead to who abducted Jonas, what the abductors did to Jonas, where the abductors is keeping Jonas or God forbid, where they buried him,” Fernandez said.

Among the respondents in the case are Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., Army chief Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano and Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Gen. Avelino Razon.

(www.asianjournal.com)

Leave a comment

Filed under Homeland