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Nation

DOJ junks appeal of activists charged for GM eggplant raid

Rudy Fernandez - The Philippine Star

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna , Philippines   â€“ The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ruled the presence of “probable cause” for the indictment of members of an activist group that destroyed experimental genetically modified (GM) eggplants of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on Feb. 17, 2011.

Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, acting in behalf of DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, signed a resolution last June 21 dismissing the petition for review of the charge of malicious mischief filed against Daniel Ocampo, Aileen Camille Dimatactac, and Benjean Tolosa.

The three were among the respondents in the criminal case filed by UPLB, represented by Dr. Lourdes Dichoso Taylo, in connection with the destruction of the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) talong (eggplant) experimental farm worth about P25 million.

The UPLB is developing the Bt eggplant in partnership with various state universities and private national and international institutions.

The other respondents are Adrian Dagondon, Reymond Berongay, Don Florentino, Shivani Shah, Ali Abbas, Ricky Morales, Eyesha Endar, and Rhoda Arnoda.

The case of malicious mischief against them has been filed before the Municipal Trial Court-4th Judicial Region under the sala of Judge Regina Balmores-Laxa in Bay town where the UPLB research experiment area is located.

The charge was based on an information filed by the provincial prosecutor’s office which found probable cause against the respondents, which in turn lodged a petition for review that the DOJ dismissed.

In resolving the petition, the DOJ said it found “no manifest error” committed by the provincial prosecutor’s office that would justify the reversal of its resolution.

Records show that at around 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 17, 2011, the respondents, who are members of Greenpeace, allegedly forced their way into the UPLB-Institute of Plant Breeding experimental farm.

They allegedly uprooted the Bt eggplants and took pictures and videos of what they called a “decontamination action,” causing damage estimated at P25 million to the UPLB.

While the respondents’ stated purpose in staging the “decontamination action” is laudable, the DOJ said this did not justify their “deliberate and concerted action, which caused damage to property, particularly the Bt eggplants, of the UPLB.”

“We cannot agree with respondents-appellants’ supposition that their intention was not to destroy the plants but to decontaminate them. The act of pulling out the Bt eggplants in the experimental field, however they called it, resulted in the destruction of the same, thereby causing damage to UPLB,” it said.

“Although we agree that respondents-appellants, as Greenpeace members, may freely exercise their environmental advocacy, it is also a hornbeak doctrine that in the exercise of our rights and in the enjoyment of our privileges, we must not injure the rights of others,” it added.

 

 

 

 

 

ADRIAN DAGONDON

AILEEN CAMILLE DIMATACTAC

ALI ABBAS

BENJEAN TOLOSA

DANIEL OCAMPO

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

DON FLORENTINO

DR. LOURDES DICHOSO TAYLO

UPLB

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