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Philippines government lawyer assassinated -
Baby Milk Action statement

Press release 14 December 2006

Baby Milk Action is coordinating an international campaign in support of the Philippines government's regulations on the marketing of baby foods that are under attack in the courts and through high pressure lobbying (see campaign launch press release, which is updated with media coverage of it).

We are disturbed to have received the following news report today in which the assassination of a government lawyer is linked by the Solicitor General to his role in defending the baby food regulations. There are several other cases in which he was involved and it is too early to say the true motivation of the killers. However, the fact that the leading government lawyer believes it could be linked to the 'Milk Code' case shows the fraught conditions under which health campaigners operate in the country (see Baby Milk Action quote below):

From Philippines Daily Inquirer 14 December 2006 (download at

MALACAÑANG is offering a P1 million reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers of Assistant Solicitor General Nestor J. Ballocillo.

Solicitor General Antonio Eduardo Nachura said that the killing of Ballocillo—as well as his son Benedict—may have something to do with the expropriation of the controversial Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 3 (Naia 3) and the Milk Code case that the elder Ballocillo was handling.

“President Arroyo ordered the release of a P1 million reward to anyone who could provide reliable information that could shed light on the killing of Ballocillo and his son,” said Nachura.

“The President gave a clear message that she will not condone such a dastardly act. The government will not be cowed into submission by criminal acts like the one committed against the Ballocillos,” he added.

Ballocillo and his son were shot dead by several suspects last Dec. 6 while walking toward a public transport terminal near their house in Barangay San Antonio, Parañaque City. Nachura, meanwhile, said the OSG would not be deterred from performing its mandate as a government lawyer and as a tribune of the people.

The P1 million bounty is in addition to the P200,000 earlier offered by the Southern Police District.

“I asked the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to leave no stone unturned in conducting its investigation. Justice must be served, if only to honor the memory of Ballocillo,” Nachura said.

In linking the Milk Code case to his death, Nachura described Ballocillo as an advocate of “breastfeeding.”

“Nestor came out very strongly in these cases since he is an advocate of breastfeeding. Because of his kindness, humility and deep religiosity he even got the tag obispo (bishop). He was a valedictorian in law school. He was my student at the Arellano Law Foundation,” Nachura said.

Ballocillo, he added, also helped in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars in the Marcos ill-gotten wealth cases.

Nachura said Ballocillo also successfully litigated the case against Manila Electric Company where the Supreme Court ordered the power firm to refund overcharged fees to consumers.

Ballocillo also handled the international arbitration and expropriation cases involving the Naia terminal 3. The government has taken over the terminal after making an initial payment of P3 billion to the Philippine International Air Transport Corp. consortium which built the facility.

On the same day the lawyer was assassinated, representatives of the coalition raising public support for the regulations marched to the Supreme Court with a bottle baby to file papers. Click here for details.

Political assassinations are sadly an all too common occurrence in the Philippines. In September Baby Milk Action interviewed a trade union leader about the assassination of the leader of a long-running strike at a Nestlé factory a year before. She was afraid to return to her office. No-one has been charged for the killing.

Patti Rundall OBE, Policy Director, at Baby Milk Action, said:

"Having just returned from the Philippines, the news of this assassination is really disturbing. Assistant Solicitor General Ballcillio was highly respected and seems to have been loved by all who had the privilege to work with him.

"Of course nobody knows at this stage which - if any - of the cases being handled by him led to his murder. But clearly the Solicitor General believes there may a link to his advocacy for breastfeeding.

"We must not forget that infant feeding is a highly politicised issue. Milk is after all a multi-billion pound global business and in the Philippines is the 6th most advertised product with ads in every magazine I picked up. But while some are making healthy profits from this trade, according to the World Health Organisation, the 16,000 Filipino children who die every year due to inappropriate feeding are paying the real price.

"We send our condolences to all our colleagues who are working on this vital issue and wish them courage."

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