MANILA, Philippines - A former political detainee, senatorial candidate Eddie Villanueva or "Brother Eddie" has joined calls for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to stop "protecting its soldiers" found to be involved in the 2007 abduction of activist Jonas Burgos.
The Court of Appeals recently held the police and the military "accountable and responsible" for his disappearance. On Monday, April 1, his mother Edita submitted to the Supreme Court fresh evidence -- including a photo of Jonas taken allegedly after he was abducted - as basis for the re-opening of the case at the CA.
"The only way the Armed Forces can substantiate its pronouncements that it condemns violations to individuals’ basic and constitutional rights is by allowing its officers and men to fully subject themselves to police investigators and the courts and subsequently face the legal verdict," reads Villanueva's statement no Wednesday, April 3.
Villanueva recalled his experience as a political detainee. “As a former political detainee during the Martial Law years, I have seen and experienced first-hand the heavy handed treatment of the military against political dissidents,” Villanueva said. “It’s time that the AFP stop coddling their people,” he said.
“The CA’s ruling on the Jonas Burgos case only proves that the practice by military units of committing enforced disappearances against legitimate activists continues to this day – decades after democracy has been restored in the country,” he added.
These military practices should end, he said. “I challenge the military leadership to make a public reaffirmation of its allegiance to the democratic ideals and issue military orders prohibiting its troops from engaging in illegal activities such as enforced disappearances and torture in carrying out their operations,” Villanueva said.
“It should take responsibility for the actions of its people and begin cleaning its own ranks,” he added.
Villanueva is from Bulacan; the Burgos family has a farm in Bulacan as well, and Jonas operated in the province as an activist.- Rappler.com