THIS coming Saturday, June 25, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) will recognize forty outstanding graduates for the year 2011 in an award ceremony during the UP General Alumni-Faculty Homecoming and Reunion at the Bahay ng Alumni in UP Campus. The UPAA Distinguished Alumni Awards are conferred to alumni who have brought about substantial benefits to society and brought distinct honor to the University in their various fields of expertise and work.
A Filipina cousin of mine who was living 70 kilometers away from the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant sent a message to me through the Internet asking advice on what her family could do about the nuclear accident. It struck me that even if the Philippine government has allayed fears about the direct effect of the nuclear accident, there are Filipinos that are going to be near the site of one of the biggest industrial disasters in record.
A whitewash-- this is how the scientist group AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People called the findings of the Department of Justice fact-finding panel that cleared the military of any wrongdoing on the death of Leonard Co, forest guard Sofronio Cortez and farmer Julius Borromeo last November 15 in Kananga, Leyte.
THE year started with ones—1/1/11—which is not necessarily auspicious but certainly a rare occurrence. A better date to watch for would be 1/10/2011, which is a palindrome (one that reads the same forwards and backwards). As usual, the question at every turn of the year would be what is in store for us. For those inclined to believe soothsayers or the change in signs, one can just pick his or her version of the various fortune-tellers that abound.
TECHNOLOGY made news this year with the release of a treasure trove of material in Julian Assange’s website WikiLeaks (wikileaks.org). The site announced that it would release 251,287 US diplomatic cables that it had acquired from an anonymous source. This created a firestorm of condemnation on the one hand and of support on the other. Julian Assange had been hounded by arrest since the initial release of the documents and the website itself had been attacked by “denial of service” ploys to disable it.
Last Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew its charges against the “Morong 43.” The 43 health workers were arrested in Morong, Rizal last February 6, 2010 and were detained for more than 10 months. Their eventual release (if the court approves it) puts in the forefront the case of Leonard Co and his companions as a human rights issue that squarely falls under the watch of the current administration.
We hope that this case is resolved in the end with a similar favorable outcome as the “Morong 43’s” case.
Leonardo Co, renowned Filipino conservationist and botanist, along with forester Sofronio Cortez and farmer Julius Borromeo, was killed on November 15, 2010, allegedly by troops of the Philippine Army, while conducting research on tree biodiversity in the Manawan-Kananga Watershed in Leyte. On the day of his death, Co and four of his companions were pursuing research work for the Energy Development Corporation: surveying and collecting specimen seedlings of endangered trees for replanting.
At the press conference held this morning at the UP Institute of Biology, the FACT-FINDING MISSION-KANANGA KILLINGS, revealed that
* the direction of the bullet marks on the trees originated from a vantage point on the ridge above Leonard Co and his team
* the direction of fire was concentrated on the area where Leonard and his 4 other companions were standing
* tree no.4 was hit three (3) times and the large tree were Ronino Gibe hid had six (6) bullet marks in it, and
* that there are no bullet marks on the trees from the ground looking up to the ridge nor from any other side except from the vantage position.
The pot for the Grandlotto 6/55 prize remained elusive as of last Monday’s draw. It has risen already to around P574 million last time and would likely breach 600 million. The large pot is a big payoff for the stream of bettors that line up the Lotto outlets everyday. Their dream is to get this prize for just P20 per combination.
An urgent appeal to President Benigno Aquino III and the Philippine Legislature to effect a thorough, independent, and transparent investigation on the killing in Kananga, Leyte of Leonardo Co, a renowned Filipino scientist, and his two companions
Sign up at http://www.justiceforleonardco.org