Edith Burgos, wife of press freedom icon Jose Burgos Jr. and mother of Jonas Burgos, who was never seen since he was abducted by persons suspected to be members of the military on April 28, 2007, issued a statement yesterday in reaction to President Aquino's remark dismissing criticisms about the dismal human rights records of his administration as leftist propaganda.
"My son, Jonas, is still missing as so many others are. He was forcibly abducted during the Gloria Arroyo administration, and until now we have yet to get a categorical statement from authorities on the fate of my son. And my family had admittedly become vocal in our plea that military produce my Jonas.
"To call this propaganda and to label it leftist is the height of insensitivity to a mother who continues to search for his missing son. I stand before the Lord, who is truth Himself, in witness of this truth.
"Now, when you are looking for a missing loved one, is it justified to label you as leftist? Unless the definition has been changed, I would not subscribe to what has been officially said by Malacanang. To seek justice and to right a wrong done to families who have been victims of enforced disappearances, will that be considered a leftist act?
"Incidentally, a few days ago, President Aquino approved the promotion of several military generals. Among them was Col. Eduardo Año who was promoted to Brigadier General.
"Col. Año is one of the respondents in the criminal case we filed with the Department of Justice for the abduction of my son. After one year, the case is still under preliminary investigation.
"Today, I fear that the message relayed in such blatant act by authorities can be a justification for human rights violators to continue their abuses.
"With Malacanang's tough branding of human rights violations as leftist propaganda, are the authorities now saying that I will never see my son again?"
Last Tuesday in Auckland, New Zealand, Aquino took a snipe at critics of his administration's human rights records zeroing on an unnamed senatorial candidate who was not rating well in the surveys. He said: "
"We have a very vocal leftist community but if the surveys are any indication, they have a senatorial candidate-our senators are elected at large throughout the nation-and this person currently has 2.6 percent of the population voting for him which is very, very little 'cause there's only the 12 candidates out of about 27 I think who are running this time around who will have seats in the Senate."
(In the September 2012 survey of Pulse Asia, only 2.9 per cent of the respondents said they will be voting for Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino. There were 36 names in the survey and Casino was in the range of 31 to 35.)
Aquino also said:""So they are very good at propaganda but I think the record speaks for itself. One of the accused former general of our army is our fugitive from justice because there is a warrant of arrest… We're trying to remove that impunity that used to exist. My predecessor is currently in jail awaiting trial. She's detained. We've removed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court through an impeachment process. So basically we want to ensure that the rule of law applies to everybody."
Casino fired back at Aquino: "Let me remind the President that before his mother died, he did not even rate in any survey nor was [he] considered by anyone to be of presidential caliber. In fact, he only became senator because of his lineage and the heroic efforts of his mother and [father].
Press Secretary Edwin Lacierda defended the President advising Casiño ".. don't take it personally. If you view the context of the President, he was saying that the Left has a massive propaganda and if you notice, the propaganda is all about criticizing the government. Ang point ng Pangulo, kung effective ang inyong propaganda, e di dapat ang inyong kandidato, tataas sa survey."
Casiño answered Lacierda: "It's nothing personal? Don't worry about me, I can shrug off the President's insults anytime.But to dismiss the plight of human rights victims and their families as mere propaganda IS personal, painful and dangerous. "
Casiño further said, "How insensitive of the President. Para namang hindi siya at kanyang pamilya naging biktima nung panahon ng martial law.
"It may be hard for the President to admit that the abuses continue but please don't dismiss them as mere Leftist propaganda.Mahiya ka naman sa nanay ni Jonas Burgos, sa mga anak ni Gerry Ortega, sa pamilya ng mga pinatay ng riding in tandem at marami pang biktima ng human rights violations na hindi nabibigyan ng hustisya .The President should be made to understand this or else the impunity will continue."