LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—So what ever happened to the tracker teams?
The family of murdered Palawan broadcaster and environmentalist Dr. Gerardo Ortega is losing hope his killing will be solved any time soon.
Addressing the eighth national congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines here on Saturday, Ortega’s widow, Patria Gloria Ortega, belied the assertions of justice and police officials that they had sent out tracker teams to go after the suspected masterminds in the killing—former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes.
The Reyeses fled the country in May last year shortly before a Palawan court was to issue a warrant for their arrest for allegedly ordering the killing of Ortega, which was carried out on Jan. 24, 2011, in Puerto Princesa City by a gunman who pointed to the brothers as the ones who ordered it.
“After all this time, it seems to me our government is doing nothing (to solve the murder of my husband),” said the widow in her speech.
“As far as I know, there is still no tracking team going after the masterminds who (were able to leave) the country using fake passports,” she added.
Ortega said a police officer privy to the case had told her the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police did not actually send out anyone to look for the Reyeses.
“I’m now feeling so frustrated over our justice system … two years after and we still don’t have the masterminds who are really working to get themselves off the hook,” she said.
Her daughter, Michaella, decried the “lip service” and empty promises the family had been getting from the agencies responsible for finding the Reyes brothers.
Michaella expressed doubt over the sincerity of the government in bringing the killers to justice, noting how the Bureau of Immigration dealt with the immigration officers who allegedly helped the Reyeses fly out of the country.
“All we wanted since day one was to be able to have a fair and honest trial which we cannot have. We can’t have that because the Reyes brothers do not want to face trial. They don’t want to get in front of a judge,” she said.
“We know we have a time limit. The uproar and support of the people can only take us so far. We are running out of options. As time passes our case [gets weaker]… because we are getting more tired. We are losing our witnesses,” she said.
Asked if the family believed the murder of her father would be solved during the Aquino administration, Michaella replied: “I think it’s safe to say no. Why? All you have to do is look at history and look at the numbers.”
She said several studies on media and political killings showed that catching and putting the perpetrators on trial could take at least five years.
“We (will not be prosecuting) only one gunman but an entire team of 10 to 11 people. It would definitely take more than five years. So just really looking at the history, it’s really not possible,” she said.
As to suggestions the P5-million reward for the arrest of the Reyeses be raised, she said: “We think the bounty is peripheral.”
“When you look at how the government has handled this case so far, you will see that everything has been very minimal. Their efforts have been very minimal to the point that sometimes the family feels it’s only paying lip service,” Michaella said.