Military officer in Burgos kidnap relieved - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:32:00 03/23/2011
Filed Under: Human Rights, Justice & Rights, Military, Kidnapping, Missing Persons, Crime
MANILA, Philippines—Armed Forces Chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. has recalled from his post an Army major implicated in the April 2007 abduction of missing activist Jonas Burgos in anticipation of a criminal investigation.
Maj. Harry Baliaga was relieved of his duties at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City and was ordered to report to the Fort Bonifacio Army headquarters, as instructed by Oban, according to AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr.
“He’s available in case his presence will be necessary. We will present him. Let’s wait for the legal process,” Oban told reporters on the sidelines of the Army’s 114th anniversary ceremonies Tuesday.
He said there was no reason to restrict Baliaga to his quarters in the meantime.
In a report to the Supreme Court last week, the Commission on Human Rights tagged Baliaga, formerly with the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion based in Bulacan province, as the “principal by direct participation in the abduction of Burgos,” citing witnesses’ accounts.
The CHR has recommended that Baliaga be charged with kidnapping.
Burgos, a peasant organizer and a son of the late journalist Joe Burgos, a prominent leader in the 1980s anti-Marcos dictatorship movement, was snatched by armed men from the Ever-Gotesco mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007. This happened at the height of several killings and disappearances of activists during the Arroyo administration.
Oban has formed a technical working group led by AFP Human Rights Office chief Col. Domingo Tutaan Jr. to advise him on their next course of action after the CHR found the military liable for Burgos’ abduction.
Mabanta said Baliaga was with the Special Forces Detached Service assigned to the PMA.
“We are taking this very seriously. Baliaga is being relieved of all his duties for him to be able to concentrate (on the investigation),” he said.