Latest Stories

Witness in Ortega murder found dead

By ,

Relatives and supporters of murdered Palawan environmentalist Gerry Ortega urge the Court of Appeals in Manila to uphold the arrest warrants issued by a lower court against the suspects, former Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA FILE PHOTO

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—A man who was detained for involvement in the killing of Palawan environmentalist and journalist Gerry Ortega has been found dead inside the Quezon provincial jail in Lucena City, the inmate’s wife said.

Dennis Aranas, tagged as a lookout in the murder of Ortega, was found by other inmates hanging from a ceiling with a strap of a shoulder bag around his neck on Tuesday.

His wife, Marilyn, said jail officials informed her about Dennis’ alleged suicide on Tuesday noon.

“I don’t want to believe it,” said Marilyn. “I want an autopsy but we don’t have money,” she said in a phone interview.

Aranas was sharing a cell with 30 other inmates since he was ordered detained at the Quezon provincial jail on June 29, 2012 for murder and frustrated murder.

Marilyn said her husband was recently released from the Witness Protection Program (WPP) as a state witness in the Ortega case because of a murder case filed against him in Gumaca, Quezon, in June last year.

She said the case in Gumaca surprised her because her husband has never been to the town.

Chief Supt. Serafin Barretto Jr., head of the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), yesterday said Aranas, 37, was found dead by another inmate, Christopher Marquez, past 10 a.m.

“They were about to eat but (Aranas) decided to stay behind,” Barreto said. “When the other inmates came back, they saw him hanging,” he said in a phone interview.

Barretto, quoting inmates, said Aranas has been depressed and has been telling his cell mates that he could no longer bear being detained.

Quezon police director Dionardo Carlos, in a phone interview, said police would conduct a postmortem investigation to “erase doubts that there was foul play.”

Aranas was part of a three-man hit team from Pagbilao, Quezon, that was hired by now state witness Rodolfo “Bumar” Edrad to kill Ortega on Jan. 24, 2010. He acted as a lookout.

After hiding in Coron, Palawan, days after the murder, Aranas surrendered to authorities.

Former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes was linked to the murder after police traced the murder weapon to Reyes’ provincial administrator, Romeo Seratubias.

The Ortega family expressed concern over Aranas’ death. Michaella Ortega, the slain environmentalist’s daughter, said the Ortega family is helping raise money for the autopsy on Aranas.

She said that as a witness to the murder, Aranas corroborated other testimony and pieces of evidence that led the murder trail to Reyes.

Michaella said thus far, two witnesses in the case have already died. Val Lecias, buyer of the murder weapon, died last year, she said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Crime , Dennis Aranas , Gerry Ortega , Lucena City , Prison

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  2. Chinese lawyers say they were tortured by police
  3. Hair salon’s Kim Jong Un poster riles embassy
  4. Siquijor ‘healer’: For every cure, there’s a plant
  5. State seeks guilty verdict for Abalos
  6. Why college grads end up in the PNP
  7. Estrada: I will pray for my detractors
  8. Miraculous image makes Gapan City top site for pilgrimage in Central Luzon
  9. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  10. Five men from Cavite found dead in jeep in Batangas
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. Massage attendant arrested on rape complaint filed by Japanese tourist
  3. ‘Tell no one’ Makati bettor won P250M lotto
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  6. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  7. North Korea uses flamethrower to execute official
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  10. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • Romblon mining site collapses; 3 killed
  • South Korea says 295 missing in ferry disaster
  • OFW who returned home from UAE tests positive for MERS-CoV – DOH chief
  • QC cops bear crosses as penance for demerits
  • Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  • Sports

  • China, Taiwan rout foes for 3rd, 5th places in Asian Club volleyball
  • Ginebra’s new import Freeman arrives, makes PBA return vs ROS
  • Fielder ends HR drought, Rangers beat Mariners 5-0
  • Power Pinoys salvage 7th place in Asian men’s volley club championship
  • Knicks prevent Nets from clinching fifth seed
  • Lifestyle

  • Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Entertainment

  • Mommy Dionisia Pacquiao’s greatest hits
  • Deniece Cornejo posts bail—report
  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Business

  • I-Remit teams up with Lakhoo for remittances from Oman
  • Megawide nets P1.4 B in 2013
  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • Technology

  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • Visa-free travel to Japan could boost tourism
  • 2 PCG men ordered arrested over Balintang Channel shooting
  • US Embassy closed on Holy Thursday, Good Friday
  • Relief worker draws inspiration from helping Yolanda victims
  • Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes
  • Marketplace