Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday said she would order the prosecutor general of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the release of the result of the preliminary investigation into the killing of renowned botanist Leonard Co on Nov. 15, 2010.
“I will ask PG (Prosecutor General Claro Arellano) to check, to verify the exact status and direct his office to expedite the resolution [of the preliminary investigation],” De Lima told reporters on the second anniversary of Co’s death.
De Lima was asked the status of the DOJ investigation of the Co case after a group of environmentalists and human rights advocates staged a protest outside the DOJ building in Manila yesterday demanding the release of the resolution of the preliminary investigation two years to the day Co died at the hands allegedly of military troops who may have mistaken him and his group for communist rebels.
The protesters also delivered postcards to De Lima’s office that demanded “Justice for Leonard Co, Release DOJ Resolution Now!”
Co’s wife, Glenda, and his parents had filed a murder complaint against members of the military who had reportedly fired on Co and his team of botanists while they were gathering plant specimens within the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corp. property in Kananga.
The military insisted its troops were shooting at New People’s Army rebels, and Co and his team were caught in the crossfire.
The DOJ panel, led by Prosecutor George Yarte, completed its preliminary investigation in July 2011 and was supposed to issue a resolution in 60 days.