By: Eleanor A Jara
Council for Health and Development
He did not chase fame or glory for his works so that he could cut a name above the rest. His ardor for studying plants was fueled by a burning passion to contribute to the conservation of the environment. He is Leonard Co, a people’s scientist whose life was cut short in an alleged “crossfire” between the military and NPA on November 15, 2010.
Leonard’s legacy to us is his passion and dedication for his work with which he authored books on indigenous plants in the Cordilleras. The book “Common Medicinal Plants in the Cordillera Region: A Trainor’s Manual for Community-Based Health Programs” served as an invaluable reference to Community Health Workers not only in the Cordillera but to more than 50 community-based health programs (CBHP) across the country. His works paved the way for the documentation of medicinal plants in areas where CBHPs are present. Despite his many commitments, he agreed to be a consultant on a medicinal plants documentation project with the Council for Health and Development (CHD) and a UP-based research group in 2008 — proof that community-based health programs always have a special place in his heart.
We are saddened and angered by this loss. The entire community-based health programs in the Philippines vow to keep vigil until justice is served for Leonard. An impartial and independent investigation of this case must be undertaken to shed light on the truth and answer many questions. We will not rest until the perpetrators of this crime are punished. We call on President Aquino to ensure that no whitewash of the case shall ever happen and that justice be served the soonest. We challenge the new administration to put an end to the culture of impunity.