Scientists Group Condemns DOJ Whitewash of Botanist Death (PR)

News Release
January 20, 2011

A whitewash. This is how the scientist group AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People called the findings of the Department of Justice fact-finding panel that cleared the military of any wrongdoing on the death of Leonard Co, forest guard Sofronio Cortez and farmer Julius Borromeo last November 15 in Kananga, Leyte.

“The DOJ panel totally ignored the testimony of the witnesses that attest to the culpability of the military on the death of the Kananga 3”, said Dr. Tapang, chairperson of AGHAM and convenor of the Justice for Leonard Co Movement.

“We also wonder why the DoJ turned a blind eye to the physical evidence that the trees in the killing site show?”, Dr. Tapang asked. AGHAM led a fact-finding mission in Kananga, Leyte last November 26, 2010 that showed that there were no indications of any crossfire in the area. The trees were shot only from the side of the military towards where Co and his team was standing.

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AGHAM further pointed out that even if Leonard Co’s employer, the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) will be found culpable as their report states, it was still the soldiers from the 19th Infantry Battalion that fired the fatal shots. Leonard and his team was working near the confines of the heavily guarded EDC complex.

“What of the failure to bring immediate medical attention to Julius Borromeo? It was the military troops delay to bring him down that contributed to his death”, Tapang said in reference to Borromeo who was shot once in the chest. Borromeo could have lived had immediate medical attention been administered to him.

“Sec. Leila de Lima should review the results of the DOJ panel and reverse their findings to include the military’s obvious culpability in the deaths of the Kananga 3. If not, this whitewash does not bode well to this administration. The impunity that is happening is no different from what was there in previous regimes,” said Dr. Tapang.

Dr. Giovanni Tapang, Chairperson
AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People

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