By ABIGAIL T. BENGWAYAN
I do not know Jonas Burgos.
I only read about him in the papers, in the Internet.
I do not know him, but I somehow see some connectivity between me and the circumstances of his person and his very background. He finished college at my hometown, in a university with a backdrop of hills, rocks and good summer sky. At the same university where I spent elementary and high school before packing my bags to Los Baños.
I never read anything about him, as he is no celebrity of any sort. Only an agriculturist who trains farmers on organic farming in Central Luzon and his home province of Batangas. My folks are rural development workers, and I’ve seen how agriculturists, too, figure in the hard life of farmers. Of peasants.
So I read about him. His father was the late press freedom icon Jose Burgos, criticized and eventually detained in the 1970s for his work, standpoint and integrity as journalist and staunch democrat under Martial Rule. Another thread. I too, am a writer and a journalist, having chosen to write for the major players of society—the fighting and oppressed. Freedom of the press, basic human rights. I have come to appreciate what I am entitled to in the Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even my claim to my people’s inherent collective rights, being an indigenous person.
Jonas Joseph Burgos. 32. A husband and father. Abducted in broad daylight on April 28 in a busy mall in Quezon City, remains missing to this date. I can only hope that he still lives, that he will survive.
I join his family and colleagues in their demand to free Jonas. I join those who press for justice for the Burgos family, and demand the prosecution of those behind his disappearance. Under this government, most abductions and disappearances remained such, adding to the long list of desaparecidos in the country.
The death toll has risen, yes. And slowly, the figures become faces, people we know or have known. To succumb to impunity and the culture of silence shows defeat. Tomorrow, our rights could just be milestones from a historical past.
Free Jonas Burgos! #