(Updated 11:15 a.m.)
The high court has directed the armed forces to reveal the locations of soldiers who have been linked by supposed new evidence to the disappearance of political activist Jonas Burgos.
Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista was ordered by the Supreme Court to submit a "confidential report" on the whereabouts of the soldiers identified in an "After Apprehension Report," which was among the new pieces of evidence submitted to the SC by Jonas' mother, Edita Burgos, last April 1.
In the SC order, Gen. Bautista must "ensure that these military personnel can be located and served with the processes that this court may serve, if any.”
At the same time, the Supreme Court has ordered the government to extend security to the mother of missing political activist Jonas Burgos and their family in light of supposed new evidence linking the military to the April 2007 enforced disappearance.
The SC Public Information Office said the high tribunal issued a temporary protection order (TEPO) after considering Mrs. Burgos' claims that she feared for her life because of the "sensitive nature" of the new evidence.
The SC directed "the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation to provide security and protection to the petitioner Edita T. Burgos and her immediate family as provided above, pursuant to Section 14(a) of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo."
The high court also ordered the two agencies to submit within five days after the receipt of the order, a "confidential memorandum" on the security and protection arrangements to be given the Burgos family.
In its latest ruling, the high court ordered Bautista and the respondents in the case, including former AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon, to file their respective comments within 10 days on the Urgent Ex Parte Motion Ex Abundanti Cautela filed by Mrs. Burgos.
Others asked to comment were the incumbent Commanding General of Philippine Army, the incumbent Commanding Officer of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, the incumbent Commanding Officer of the 56th IB, 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army at the time of the disappearance of Burgos, Lt. Col. Melquiades Felicano.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said they have yet to receive a copy of the Supreme Court order.
"Wala pa kami narereceive na utos ng Supreme Court, antayin muna namin [bago kami mag-comment]," he said.
"Pag dumating na [tsaka kami mag-comment] we have to check first," he added.
In her motion, Mrs. Burgos insisted the case should be further tackled by the Court of Appeals, especially since the family had obtained additional evidence that could help further pin down the suspects in the case.
Apart from the "After Apprehension Report," Mrs. Burgos also submitted a "Psycho Social Processing Report," and an "Autobiography of Jonas Burgos," which she said, were copies of confidential records on file with the Philippine Army.
She also included a photograph of her son taken allegedly while he was held captive, showing him wearing a white shirt and a handkerchief around his neck that appeared to have been used as a blindfold.
In its latest ruling, the SC also ordered the NBI to "coordinate with and provide direct investigative assistance" to the Commission on Human Rights, which has conducted an independent probe on the disappearance. In its findings, the CHR implicated the military in the disappearance and accused Maj. Harry A. Baliaga Jr., then of the Army's 56th IB as responsible for the incident.
Earlier, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said Baliaga is currently assigned as a member of staff at the Army’s Adjutant General in Fort Bonifacio.
Cabangbang added that the Army’s Judge Advocate General is also reviewing the CA decision, adding that Baliaga is “entitled to duty because no case had been filed against him.”
On why Baliaga got promoted, Cabangbang said: "If he was promoted to major, it's only because there is no case filed against him… He was implicated but I don't think it progressed." 'Task Force Burgos'
At the time of the Burgos incident, Baliaga was an Army lieutenant.
Last week, NBI director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas had formed "Task Force Burgos" in accordance with President Benigno Aquino III's directive to the DOJ to get to the bottom of Burgos' disappearance.
The NBI is an attached agency of the DOJ.
Heading "Task Force Burgos" is NBI District Director Virgilio Mendez of the agency's Regional Operation Services.
Burgos, a political activist and son of the late press freedom advocate Jose Burgos, was abducted in a restaurant at the Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on April 28, 2007. The license plate number of the vehicle used in his abduction was traced to a vehicle impounded at the camp of the Army's 56th Infantry Battalion in Bulacan.
Apart from the CHR, the police and military have separately investigated the incident, and concluded that Burgos was a victim of internal purging in the New People's Army.
In its March 18 ruling, the CA held both the military and the police "accountable" for Jonas' disappearance.
The CA has pointed to Baliaga as being "responsible" for the political activist's disappearance. — with Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ/HS, GMA News