Family of slain botanist presses DOJ to act on case

Posted at 11/15/2012 2:15 PM

MANILA - The family of slain ethnobotanist Leonard Co and their supporters staged a picket at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday to protest the "delay" in the resolution of the preliminary investigation into Co's slay.

The protest coincided with Co's second death anniversary.

"We want the resolution to be released soon. We have waited long enough for this case to turn," Co's widow, Glenda, said, in a statement.

"It is unfortunate that we gather here again, only to be faced with the fact that justice has yet to be served," Hustisya secretary-general Cristina Guevarra said.

Co, a consultant for the Energy Development Corp., was conducting research, along with 4 companions, in a forest in Kananga, Leyte when they were caught in an alleged crossfire between the Philippine Army's 19th Infantry Battalion (IB) and suspected New People's Army (NPA) Rebels on Nov. 15, 2010.

Co's widow and his parents, Lian Sing and Emelina Co, accused the operating forces of being responsible for the death of Co, forest guard Sofronio Cortez, and farmer Julio Borromeo. Their companions, Policarpio Balute and Ronino Gibe survived.

1st Lt. Ronald Odchimar, 2nd Lt. Cameron Perez, Cpl. Marlon Mores, Private 1st Class Michael Babon, Private 1st Class Elemer Forteza, Private 1st Class Roger Fabillar, Private 1st Class Gil Guimerey, Private 1st Class Alex Apostol, Private 1st Class William Bulic and 28 'John Does' were charged before the justice department.

On Oct. 11, Atty. Evalyn Ursua, Co family counsel, filed a motion to resolve the case before the DOJ. To date, investigating prosecutors Asst. State Prosecutors George Yarte, Jr., Bryan Cacha and Tofel Austria have not handed down a resolution on the case.

On May 15, the 500th day since Co was killed, his family, friends, and members of the academe also wrote the DOJ to call for a resolution of the case.