‘Justice for Leonard Co’: Fundraiser drive launched anew for slain renowned botanist

August 5, 2022 - 2:23 PM
This file photo shows slain botanist Leonard Co. (Photo Bonifacio Pasion via Iskomunidad)

A Filipina illustrator is selling riso posters of endemic flora to pool funds for the family of the slain noted botanist Leonard Co as they seek justice 12 years on. 

Raxenne Maniquiz on August 4 opened the call on social media as Co’s wife, Glenda, asked for donations to cover the legal fees as court hearings on Leonard’s case continue. 

“I’m raising funds for the ongoing case of Dr. Leonard Co, a noted Filipino botanist and plant taxonomist. I’m selling A3 riso posters of this map. Proceeds will help cover the legal fees in Ma’am Glenda Co’s continued search for justice,” Maniquiz said. 

In an exchange of messages with Interaksyon, Glenda said that the death of her husband and his two companions is “already a decade of injustice.” 

In November 2010, the Philippines lost one of its top botanists, Leonard, after he was shot three times to death while collecting seedlings of endangered trees in a forest in Leyte. He was 56. 

Two of Co’s guides, forest guard Sofronio Cortez and farmer Julius Borromeo, were also killed on that fateful day.  

The hail of gunshots came from soldiers of the 19th infantry battalion of the Philippine Army, who mistook Co and his group for members of the New Peoples’ Army. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) accused the nine soldiers involved of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide in 2013. Since then, Co’s family appealed to the DOJ to upgrade the charges to murder but remains pending. 

“This is our battle not only for the three victims but to all field workers and environmentalist[s] dapat may maparusahan. Huwag natin hayaan namatay sila ng ganon na lamang. Whatever it takes,” Glenda added. 

Maniquiz tweeted a photo of “Rafflesiaceae of the Philippines,” a map that she drew of the rare parasitic plants that can be found in tropical forests around the country. One of its plant species, Rafflesia leonardi, was named after Leonard who discovered it. 

Maniquiz originally posted her artwork on Twitter on April 17 and has since garnered more than 200 retweets and 7,000 likes. 

“I started my Philippine endemic journey with this Rafflesiaceae map, inspired by the original map made by Leonard Co, Julie Barcelona, Danilo Balete, Mary Ann Cajano, Daniel Lee Nickrent, and Pieter Pelser,” she said on Facebook. 

Those interested may order their printed copy of the Rafflesiaceae map here until August 7.