Release resolution now, Leonard Co’s family tells DOJ

ENVIRONMENTALISTS and human rights advocates will troop to the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, November 15, to personally deliver postcards to the office of DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima that said “Justice for Leonard Co, Release DOJ resolution Now!”

Two years into the killing of the renowned botanist, the group protested the continued absence of a resolution on preliminary investigation (PI) conducted by the DOJ on the murder complaint filed by Leonard’s wife Glenda and his parents Co Lian Seng and Emelina Legaspi Co. The DOJ panel, led by Prosecutor George Yarte, has ended its PI in July 2011, and was supposed to issue a resolution 60 days after.

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

Named respondents to the complaint were 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.

The soldiers all belong to the 19th Infantry Batallion, who allegedly fired at Co’s team while they were gathering plant specimens within the forest reserve of Lopez-owned Energy Development Corporation in Kananga.

According to Guevarra, they are worried that the non-issuance of a resolution could mean that the resolution will not be in favor of Co’s family.

On October 11, Atty. Evalyn Ursua, counsel for the family of Leonard, filed a motion to resolve the case at the DOJ. However, there is still no response from the panel of prosecutors.

“We want the resolution to be released soon. We have waited long enough for this case to turn,” said wife Glenda.

On May 15, on the 500th day since Leonard was killed, Glenda wrote the DOJ to appeal for the release of the resolution. Likewise, friends and fellow members of the academe wrote the DOJ to ask for the release of the resolution at the soonest.

“It has been a year since the filing of the complaint. Last year, Leonard received a number of posthumous awards and citations, but while we appreciate these citations, we do not only want Leonard to be praised for all his work. We continue to lament the fact that all these awards and tributes are lacking if the DOJ will only allow the accused to roam freely and go unpunished,” Glenda said.

Guevarra said the family has exerted many efforts to reach out to the DOJ, it is now the department’s turn to do their part.

“It’s about time that they respond, and that should be now,” she said.

Karapatan has documented 114 victims of extrajudicial killings, including Co and his companions, under the Aquino administration.

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