July 13, 2007
Jinggoy seeks Senate probe on Jonas Burgos' abduction
Opposition leader Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said he will file next week a resolution seeking a Senate investigation on the abduction and disappearance of Jonas Burgos and other critics of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Estrada's resolution intends to direct appropriate Senate committees to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on 1. The current human rights situation 2. The failure and refusal of the Arroyo administration to sign the International Convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances and endorse the same to the Senate for ratification, 3. And to prioritize the bills penalizing acts of torture and involuntary disappearance of persons in custody and the establishment of a Philippine Commission on Missing Persons.
The resolution of Estrada came after Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales relieved Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco as chief of the panel investigating the disappearance of late press freedom icon Joe Burgos' son.
Estrada said he will ask the Senate committees on human rights and national defense to dig deeper and call public hearings on the reported involvement of ranking military personnel in the abduction and disappearance of Jonas Burgos.
Aside from ranking military officers, Estrada said, the Senate committees should also summon officials of Arroyo administration, including Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, to explain why Malacanang had failed to sign and endorse a United Nations convention for the protection against enforced disappearances.
Estrada urged Malacañang to sign the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and endorse the same to the Senate for its ratification.
"Pinangangalandakan natin sa buong mundo na ang Pilipinas ay isang demokratikong bansa pero tila ayaw naman ni Gng. Arroyo na pirmahan ang International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances at i-endorse sa amin dito sa Senado para maratipikahan. We can only suspect why Mrs. Arroyo refuse to sign a UN convention and endorse the same to the Senate for its ratification," Estrada said.
Estrada had earlier re-filed two bills in the Senate seeking the creation of a Commission on Missing Persons and to stop involuntary disappearances.
"We should craft laws to ensure that the human rights of the victims are respected and protected," Estrada said.
Based on the statistics of human rights group Karapatan, the total extrajudicial killings, since Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office in 2001, have reached 863 as of last May 15 and most of the victims are militant church workers, farmers and youths.
There are 51 journalists murdered since 2001 and the number of enforced disappearances under the Arroyo administration has already reached 196.
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