Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros was so emotional when he wrote about the purported abduction by suspected military agents of Jonas Burgos, the son of the late We Forum publisher and journalist Joe Burgos, at Ever Gotesco along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. The incident took place many months back and yet no possible suspects were brought to the bars of justice.
What makes him more fuming with anger is that the young Burgos was taken by at least four unidentified armed men in broad daylight and in the presence of insensitive people. People who closed their eyes to a faint reality. Despite his cry for help, nobody did lift a finger to help or even call the police. When Ramon Tulfo was being monitored by at least three armed men near his house in UP Village, he immediately called the police and eventually arrested the suspects, who turned out to be military agents.
Of course, the young Burgos is not so much popular compared to his late father, who was arrested and incarcerated by Marcos for a long time. That made the older Burgos known and popular. While the son was a mere farmer in Bulacan, where the family lives. Now, the young Burgos was missing for more than a year now and yet nothing much was done to produce his warm body.
It is public knowledge that Ever Gotesco, the scene of the abduction, is not far from Police Station 6 along Commonwealth Avenue. One of the people who saw the incident could have called the police as what Mr. Tulfo did in UP Village. But nobody dared to do it. Perhaps, at that time, the customers around were thinking that the unknown Burgos was a suspected criminal with an outstanding warrant for his arrest. That was the reason why they didn’t bother at all to help him. Or else, they could be implicated for obstruction of justice.
But either a person is a criminal or not, the people around or those who are on the act of seeing the abduction taking place should have alerted the police to find out if the arrest was legitimate or not. Now, even with the issuance of the writ of amparo, the military kept denying that it doesn’t have Jonas in its custody. And who would care, especially if the young Burgos was already nowhere to be found because he was hidden or worse, buried alive somewhere so that he couldn’t talk anymore about the torture that he suffered at the hands of his abductors.
As De Quiros said, what happened to Jonas Burgos might happen to one of the children of those who were at the scene but didn’t lift a finger to help. And this is the time when one concerned parent will say the same thing but his remorse will be useless because his son is gone forever.
After all these economic difficulties in our midst, some of us have become insensitive to what is happening around us. We couldn’t care less as to whether somebody is killed infront of us because our minds are focused on something else more important than saving an innocent life. To some of us, calling the police for help is nothing but a useless attempt to put us into another trouble because of fear that the abductors might get back at us. For someone who is in the thick of things, this will be his normal reaction because he doesn’t want to be in for another problem that might only complicate things for him. And in these hard times, who doesn’t have a problem? Surely, all of us. Those who will say that he doesn’t experience any problem at all is abnormal.
Yes, I agree with De Quiros that if Jonas may been involved in some shenanigans with the law, he should have been tried in court for fair justice and equal protection of the law. But it didn’t happen this way. And for his abductors, the only way to swift justice is to banish him because he had been suspected to be one of the commanders of the communist rebels in Bulacan. No matter what, just the same, each Filipino is entitled to the due process of law until proven guilty.
A serious precedent indeed. We only pray that such a dilemma in our society will not be tolerated and ignored by those who uphold the law. And for people who can’t seem to be heroes, a little concern to help someone in distress is more than enough to please your conscience and the One above. After all, we are all passers-by on this planet. If the reason why you people at Ever Gotesco didn’t bother to help someone who was drowning because you were afraid to be involved, I don’t think your conscience will ever let your sleep. Sometimes, tolerance is evil when it is not used in proper perspective.
This kind of thinking is a little bit bothersome to most of us these days. Gone are the days when the old folks would teach their young ones to lend a helping hand to people in need of help. Whenever I’m in the big city, and lost in the sea of madness, I would often look around to see if there are still people who care for helping disabled persons or old ailing folks cross the busy intersections. I’m sorry to say that it seldom happens these days. From this, I could only surmise that this virtue is gone because most of our minds were crippled by the thought of believing in the saying: "Into each own."