‘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.


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