The gruesome incident took place 8 years ago
TACLOBAN CITY- Justice remain elusive to the family of noted botanist Dr. Leonardo Co who was killed while doing a research work inside the complex of the Energy Development Corp.(EDC) in Kananga, Leyte eight years ago.
Co was killed on November 15,2010 in Barangay Lim-ao, Kananga, which is within the EDC complex, together with forest guard Sofronio Cortez and another companion, Julius Borromeo.
In 2013, a case of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and attempted homicide was filed against members of the 19th Infantry Battalion, based in Kananga by a panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice.
However, the family of the late botanist, through their lawyer Edmund Lao, filed a motion seeking to upgrade the case into murder.
Lawyer Alexander Abinguna of the Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, a local human rights group, said that they are disappointed that it’s been eight years now since the murder of Co took place and the perpetrators remain scot-free.
“Our call is still the same: those who killed Dr. Co should be held accountable. To us, the delay in the decision of the case could be deliberate considering those involved (in the killing incident) are members of the state forces. They thought that delaying the decision of the case could result for the public to forget on the case,” Abinguna said.
Abinguna said that they remain positive that the soldiers involved in the case would be found guilty, citing the case of retired military general, Jovito Palparan who was meted with jail time after a court finds him guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
Palparan, incidentally, served as Eastern Visayas top military official for eight months in 2005 which was marked with alleged human rights violations.
Lawyer Desiree Pontejos, regional director of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), also said that they are also dismayed on the slow pace on the case of Co and his companions.
“We are monitoring the (progress of the) case. We are also disappointed that up to now, there is no resolution on the murder of Co,” Pontejos said.
The respondents of the case were members of the 19th IB led by Lt. Ronald Ochimar.
Ochimar, in previous interview, said that on that fateful day, they were conducting their operations against members of the New People’s Army.
(JOEY A. GABIETA)