Leonard Co

posted Aug 4, 2011, 3:27 PM by Diego S. Maranan   [ updated Aug 7, 2011, 1:15 PM ]

Leonard Co, the Philippines’s premiere botanist, along with Sofronio Cortez and guide Julius Borromeo were killed in Kananga, Leyte in November 15, 2010.

     Co and his research team were looking for tree species for a forest conservation project when they were gunned down by elements of the Philippine Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion. According to Lt. Col. Tutaan, the  19th IB’s commanding officer, the civilians were caught in a crossfire between the military and rebel forces. However, Policarpio Balute, a farmer who also served as the research team’s guide and who survived the carnage said, "Doon lang galing sa may itaas lahat at isa lang ang direksyon; walang sagutan ng putok sa loob ng halos 15 minuto."

(The bullet only came from uphill and from only one direction. No one was firing back for almost 15 minutes).

While Co and his companions were bleeding to death, the Army did not get medical help and hospital treatment for them.

A panel created by the Department of Justice to look into the case came out with their findings absolving the military of any wrongdoing and pinning the blame on rebel forces. This was loudly protested by Co’s colleagues and family members who are considering filing a case with international courts.

According to academician and National Academy for Science and Technology President Emil Javier, “Co was a passionate and dedicated botanist who known for conducting long-term mapping and his book on forest trees in Palanan in Isabela province, including information on forest composition and dynamics to help communities, policy makers and environmental conservation advocates to understand the scale of natural forest processes.” Co was conferred a posthumous National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST)-Hugh Greenwood Environmental Science Award.

Co also wrote a book on local medicinal plants and worked extensively with communities to promote health care, indigenous knowledge and skills in healing.

Alice Omengan-Claver

posted Aug 4, 2011, 3:13 PM by Diego S. Maranan   [ updated Aug 7, 2011, 5:19 PM ]

Alice Omengan-Claver was a native of Sagada, Mountain Province and wife of Dr. Chandu Claver. As a college student in Manila during the 1980s, she was an active member of the indigenous people’s umbrella group, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance-Manila. Upon return to Tabuk, Alice had been very generous in providing support to people’s organizations including the CPA. While she was not at the forefront of the mass movement in Kalinga, she made invaluable contributions to support it. When she married Dr. Chandu Claver, a doctor of the people, and human rights advocate, Alice provided the necessary support to her husband while mainly taking care of their three daughters.

On July 31, 2006, the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime pulled the trigger on political activist, Dr. Constancio “Chandu” Claver, Jr.  Knowing no mercy, the killers, believed to be military operatives, also targeted Dr. Claver’s 42 -year old wife, Alice, and their 11-year old daughter, Cassandra by ambushing their van with high powered rifles in Bulanao, Tabuk. While Dr. Claver and Cassandra survived the shooting, Alice was not able to survive after struggling for life for five hours from multiple gunshot wounds. Dr. Claver, 49 years old, has incurred two gunshot wounds in the left arm and chest. A bystander, Janice Ewag, a 23 years old student and part of Tanudan tribe, also incurred two gunshot wounds in the hips. `Alice became a martyr of the people, even if the actual target for killing was the husband.

From CPA Statement on the Attempted Political Assassination Attempt on Dr. Chandu Claver

 *After four years, Alice’s assassins have not been apprehended. According to Dr. Claver, “There were a lot of mishandling of witnesses and intimidation. This mishandling has actually caused a lag in the investigation.”

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