The parents of Co are also hurting because of the elusive justice for their son. “It has been one year since my son’s death; I have been crying for a year already. But my tears would never stop because they killed my only son,” said Lian Seng father of Co. His weak body never hinders him from joining picket rallies, going to tributes for his son, and other activities calling for justice. On his son’s first year anniversary, the old man stood for almost an hour under the drizzle holding a tarpaulin calling for justice.
“Was there an NPA killed (during the purported armed encounter on Nov. 15, 2010)? None. It is my son who got killed. What we want is justice,” Lian Seng said.
“It is now in their (DOJ) hands. Don’t sleep on your job,” the old man added.
A life to service to science and the environment
In a related activity, Co’s family, friends and colleagues contributed various snapshots depicting Co’s life and works and put together an exhibit at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
The exhibit carries the title “Leonard Co: A Life of Service to Science, the Environment and the People” and the theme “A Struggle Against Forgetting, A Fight Against Injustice.”
Dr. Giovanni Tapang, convenor of the Justice for Leonard Co Movement said they remain resolute in their campaign to demand justice for Co and the two other victims of the Kananga Massacre.
The exhibit features 56 photos to commemorate Co’s 56 years of service—to science, to environmental conservation, and to the Filipino people. Colleagues vowed not only to recollect Co’s decades-long efforts to protect Philippines’ forests and biodiversity, but committed to the advancement of his exploits.
“The rumination of Leonard Co’s life should translate into the continuation of his legacy as the country faces worsening forest degradation. As President Aquino continues to ignore Co’s case, he also ignores the plight of forests with his recent exemption of mining from the standing log ban,” Tapang said.
For their part, the Task Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders said in a statement that Co and his companions’ case is part of the 46 killings of environmental workers and activists that remain unresolved since 2001. The family, friends and colleagues of all environmental defenders killed for their principles pledged to strengthen their campaigns against what they said was the worsening climate of impunity under the Aquino regime.
Earlier, lawyer Julius Garcia Matibag of the National Union of People’s Lawyers said the human rights lawyers’ group fully supports calls for the prosecution of Co’s killers. “The killing of Dr. Co and his companions illustrates the climate of impunity which continues to hound Philippine society today, where civilians are being killed extra-judicially by state security forces and yet justice remains elusive,” he said.
The NUPL has since brought the issue to the attention of the international legal community and international human rights bodies.