Rights group, kin disappointed with DOJ resolution on botanist’s killing

Rights group, kin disappointed with DOJ resolution on botanist’s killing

Rights group Hustisya expressed its disappointment on the DOJ’s resolution to file charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and attempted homicide instead of murder,  on the soldiers involved in the killing of botanist Leonard Co and two others.

“We are not happy with the resolution. We do not agree that the killing of my husband Leonard, and his companions Sofronio Cortez and Julius Borromeo, is a simple case of homicide,” said Glenda Co, wife of the slain botanist.

Reiterating that the killing of Leonard, Cortez and Borromeo is murder, Co expressed disappointment that the DOJ ignored the results of the independent fact-finding mission led by the Justice for Leonard Co Movement 10 days after the incident. 

“We have waited this long, only to suffer another injustice. By ignoring the need for justice, they have also ignored the life of service that Leonard and his companions had done to their last breath,” Co said. 

Results of the fact-finding team in 2010 belied claims by the AFP that the three were killed in a crossfire with members of the New People’s Army on November 15, 2010. The misson team, participated in by scientists and human rights advocates, led by Dr. Giovanni Tapang revealed that there was no firefight; and that the continuing bursts of gunfire that felled Co and company was one-sided, originating only from where the soldiers of 16th Infantry Batallion were positioned. 

The Commission on Human Rights also issued its recommendations last year to file charges against the accused soldiers.   

Meanwhile, Hustisya secretary general Cristina Guevarra said that the DOJ’s stand to downgrade the charges against elements of 16th IB “manifests a slipshod attempt to whitewash the incident and free the soldiers of their accountability.”

Their group also condemned the flimsy alibi that the killing incident was merely an “honest mistake” as claimed by the AFP. 

“Amid their posturing to subscribe to due process, their attempts to mislead the public and cover up the dastardly act makes them all the more guilty of murder.The massacre of Leonard Co and company was not an accident, the soldiers were there to kill,” Guevarra said.

The group said it shall prepare for actions in the coming days to call for genuine justice for Co, Cortez and Borromeo. ###