MANILA, PHILIPPINES -In a press conference held at the Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines Diliman, groups presented the results of the Citizens’ Fact-finding mission on the killing of top botanist Leonard Co and companions. The mission was conducted at the site of the incident, Kanangga, Leyte last November 26-28, 2010.
The mission was attended by 33 individuals from 14 different organizations and institutions from Manila, Cebu, Samar and Leyte. It was supported by Institute of Biology director Dr. Perry Ong, College of Social Science and Philosophy Dr. Michael Tan, Ateneo Environmental Science professor Dr. Tess Perez, Visayas State University President Dr. Jose Bacusmo, Foundation for the Philippine Environment and the family of Leonardo Co.
The results were presented by Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, Anthony Arbias, president of the Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society and Atty. Kathrina Castillo.
The group established that there was no crossfire, contrary to earlier reports that the victims were caught in a crossfire between the military and communist rebels on November 15, 2010. Based on the evidence gathered at the site, the gunshots only came from one direction and that is from the vantage point of where the military were positioned.
At the press conference, the Movement for Justice for Leonard Co and companions was also launched. The movement is comprised of supporters, family, friends and civil-society groups that aims to spearhead the campaign, monitor the developments of the case and pursue the issue until justice has been served and the perpetuators are held accountable.
As a tribute to the efforts and life of Leonard Co, the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation has also launched a Leonardo Co Forest Research Fund. A sum of 100,000php every year, for years 2011-2016 would be made available to scientists who would want to research on Philippine biodiversity.