Mayo 13, 2007

Phl - 2 Army officers quizzed over Jonas’ disappearance

05/12/2007 | 07:38 PM

The military has placed two Army officers under investigation in connection with the disappearance of a left-wing activist, an A3rmy spokesman said Saturday.

Lt. Col. Noel Clement, former commander of the 56th Infantry Battalion, was summoned for questioning Friday over the abduction two weeks earlier of Jonas Burgos, a member of a farmers' group allied with the National Peasant Movement, the country's largest left-wing peasant federation, said army spokesman Lt. Col. Nestor Torres.

Torres said he was not informed about the results of the questioning by the military's provost marshal.

Lt. Col. Melquiades Feliciano, who replaced Clement as part of a routine reshuffle in January, was suspended Friday "to give him and the investigators a free hand to conduct the investigation," Torres said.

Burgos has not been seen since April 28, when gunmen dragged him from a restaurant inside a mall on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, to a waiting Toyota Revo whose license plate was traced to another vehicle that was impounded last year at the 56th Infantry Battalion camp in Bulacan.

The vehicle was seized by authorities in Bulacan in June 2006 because it was allegedly used in illegal logging, police said.

Burgos, 36, had conducted an organic farming seminar for members of his group earlier in the day and was scheduled to meet family members later but never showed up and did not answer calls to his mobile phone.

Burgos is the son of the late Jose "Joe" Burgos Jr., a prominent crusader for press freedom under ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Witnesses said they saw Burgos struggling as he was being dragged away and telling the gunmen, "Sir, I am just an activist," according to Ruth Cervantes of the human rights group Karapatan.

His abduction is one of the latest in a series of attacks on left-wing activists in the country.

Karapatan has reported that more than 800 people, about half of them left-wing activists, have been killed in alleged politically motivated attacks by suspected security forces since 2001. In addition, about 200 have been abducted and remain missing, it says.

A government commission that investigated the killings last year and a UN human rights expert both concluded in February that soldiers were involved. - AP

Posted by marga at Mayo 13, 2007 8:04 AM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?