BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Friday, April 13, 2012

Edith Burgos: It's All About Money and Greed

April 28, 2012, less than fifteen days from today, marks the fifth year since the abduction of Jonas Burgos. This is the story of Edith Burgos' continuing search for his missing son.
It was around lunchtime in a crowded mall, a place of leisure, when a young activist named Jonas Burgos was abducted. Witnesses say he was dragged from the mall to a parked vehicle in broad daylight and in full view of hundreds of people. Investigations point to the military as the culprits. Since that day in April 2007, five years ago, Jonas remains missing.
His mother, Edith Burgos, has gone to all the government agencies that she could possibly seek help from, but the promises ‘to do something about it’ from the powers-that-be turned out to be empty words.
‘I went to all the agencies. I went to the police. I went to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and I was told that it was the intelligence group who abducted him,’ Edith says one quiet afternoon in March inside an office that serves as her safe house. Edith, who has been pointing to the military as responsible for the abduction of her son, has found herself being followed by unknown individuals many times.
But Edith is unfazed. She will keep on searching for her missing son.
‘A simple mother would go all the way to look for her son because that’s what mothers are made of,’ she insists.
Edith says she will spend the rest of her life searching for her son until she finds him, dead or alive. In the deepest recesses of her soul, she knows he is out there, waiting to come home.
But Edith has no illusions that Jonas’ case, and those of hundreds of other missing activists, human rights workers and journalists, will be solved soon. As long as people remain hungry for power, a culture of impunity will remain, she explains.
‘It’s really all about money and greed. People in government would like to stay on for as long as they can. And to do that they must hold to the other powers-that-be, like the United States. To be able to get more aid, they must follow the demands of the donor. One of the demands is that they fight insurgency. They must fight terrorism. What they do is to abduct, kill or get people.’