AFP defends appointment of new ISAFP chief amid abduction claims

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday defended the appointment of Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año as head of its intelligence service. Año is one of the respondents in the alleged abduction of activist Jonas Burgos, AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos said the appointment and promotion of Año underwent a tedious vetting process based on merits, professionalism and service reputation, among other criteria. “It was deliberated on by the Board of Generals and endorsed by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense and was duly approved by the President and Commander-in Chief of the AFP,” he said in a text message to GMA News Online. Año took his oath before President Benigno Aquino III last Monday. On Tuesday, Edita Burgos, mother of Jonas, said the swearing in of Año in Malacañang as the new ISAFP chief “has annihilated whatever small hope I held on to, that in time, during this dispensation, the human rights situation in the Philippines would improve and the surfacing of my son, Jonas, would follow soon.” “Lord have mercy on Jonas and other human rights victims,” she added. Malacañang, for its part, said Mrs. Burgos should not lose hope as President Benigno Aquino is serious about protecting human rights in the country. “It is not a secret kung ano rin po ‘yung pinagdaanan ng pamilya ng Pangulo at alam po niya ‘yung pakiramdam and that is where the need to help others comes from,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said during Tuesday's press briefing. In 2011, Mrs. Burgos filed arbitrary detention charges ( against active and retired military officers, including Año, who were allegedly behind her son's abduction five years ago. Jonas, son of the late journalist and staunch anti-dictatorship activist Jose Burgos, was abducted April 28, 2007 allegedly by military personnel while he was having lunch at a restaurant inside the Ever Gotesco Mall in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. Año was the head of the operating arm of the intelligence group of the Philippine Army when the abduction happened. The AFP spokesperson said Año has responded well to the allegation hurled against him officially with the Department of Justice. “The AFP, consistent with the principles of the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan, abides by the Rule of Law with strict adherence to the protection and promotion of Human Rights in all its undertakings. The AFP firmly believes in our justice system which everyone is equal and entitled to due process,” Burgos added. — DVM, GMA News