Justice still elusive for Leonard Co as human rights violations remain widespread
November 15, 2012

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The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today marked the second death anniversary of scientist Leonard Co who was murdered in Kananga, Leyte, and said that justice remains elusive for him because human rights violations have not been addressed but in fact continue under the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan. “It is sad to note that two years after the massacre of Leonard Co and his companions in November 2010, not one of the perpetrators from the 19th IB have been brought to justice, and that is true of other rights violations as well,” said NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas. “Government troops enjoy impunity on military offensives disguised as for “peace and development.” The military propagadists led by the chief of the 8th Infantry Division, Gen. Gerardo Layug, are bastardizing human rights and international humanitarian law in claiming to uphold these even as many civilians are affected by Oplan Bayanihan.”

Fr. Salas added that the injustice for Leonard Co, Sofronio Cortez and Julius Borromeo is even more outrageous because the 19th IB has committed three other massacres, where seven children and three pregnant women were among those killed. “The first documented massacre of the 19th IB is that of five members of the Nuguit family in Palapag, Northern Samar on January 28, 1999: three children and their father and pregnant mother. Let us remember that on April 16, 2003, nine civilians—including a pregnant woman and four minors—were also massacred by the 19th IB in Kananga. And again on Nov. 21, 2005 in Palo, Leyte, six people were killed, including a pregnant woman.

“No one from the 19th IB has been brought to account for these violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

Fr. Salas called for justice for Leonard Co and other victims of human rights violations, and urged the people to continue the struggle to end impunity and punish the human rights violators. “Justice remains elusive for Leonard Co and other victims because the Aquino regime is not interested in peace and is using Oplan Bayanihan to suppress the people’s resistance and to pursue all-out war. Furthermore, there is clear US backing for Oplan Bayanihan not only as a “counterinsurgency” doctrine but through direct support—a glaring violation of national sovereignty—as seen in the 8th ID’s boasting that US troops provided them this year with infrastructure, medical and capability support through the Pacific Partnership military intervention disguised as a “humanitarian mission.” The Aquino regime is also using its so-called Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) as a “counterinsurgency” tool, where millions are poured into communities being torn by militarization to cover up the realities of rights violations and the lack of long-lasting solutions for the people’s poverty and misery.

“The 8th ID is thus emboldened to continue committing human rights violations. The people must continue to demand an end to impunity for the fascist troops as well as accountability for the human rights violators. Without justice, there can be no peace. Thus, the revolutionary armed struggle must also be intensified to defend the people, punish the human rights violators, and dismantle the fascist machinery of the state responsible for the people’s suffering.”#

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