As 700 Days of Injustice pass, Group calls for the DOJ to file murder charges against botanist’s killers

Press Release

15 October 2012

“Every day that passes by without any resolution to the case is another day of injustice to the family of Leonard Co, Sofronio Cortez and Julio Borromeo,” said Dr. Giovanni Tapang during a gathering of families, friends and colleagues of top ethnobotanist Leonard Co and various organizations belonging to the Justice for Leonard Co Movement in the College of Science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

The gathering entitled “Remembering Leonard: Planting the Seeds of Justice” was held on October 15 which marks the 700th day since Co, forester Sofronio Cortez and guide Julio Borromeo were killed in the forests of Kananga town, Leyte while doing field research for a reforestation project. Today also marks the month before the second year commemoration of their untimely death. The three were killed after by members of the 19th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army.

The gathering brought together all those who worked with and treasured Leonard Co as well as those believe that such impunity should end.“We call on Secretary Leila de Lima and President Benigno Aquino for a speedy resolution of the case. Seven hundred days of waiting is too long for justice to be served for the three victims,” said Tapang, convenor of the Justice for Leonard Co movement.

“We also call on the Commission of Human Rights to release the results of their hearings on the issue. We recall that there were witnesses in the CHR hearings that show that there was probable cause in the deaths and that there was no crossfire during the eventful date,” added Tapang.

“The physical evidence and the strong credible testimonies of the survivors put the blame squarely on the members of the 19th Infantry Division. What else does the DOJ prosecutors need to make the wheels of justice move forward?” asked Dr. Tapang.