Palawan bishop assails CA rule on Ortega slay


Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo on Thursday expressed dismay over the Court of Appeals (CA) decision to quash the murder case against former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes, allegedly the mastermind in the killing of environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega.

“We are very saddened and dismayed by the ruling,” Arigo told Radio Veritas in an interview.

“Our group and the Ortega family are only asking to have a day in court, to really have a trial and study the pieces of evidence, and (determine) if they are guilty or not. So this is really frustrating,” said the bishop.

Arigo said he believed that his group has enough strong evidence to establish probable cause against Reyes.

The Palawan prelate also said that, with this development, he has begun to lose confidence on the credibility of the justice system in the country.

“This only proves that the pastoral statement released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) that our culture is a culture of impunity is correct. That if you have connections, if you have money and you committed a crime, you would be absolved,” he added.

Palawan NGO network lawyer Gerti Mayo-Anda likewise criticized the CA’s ruling, saying it gave more weight on the technical aspect rather than the substantive aspect of the case.

“The substantive aspect was lost, it became a technicality. We believe the focus should be on the substantive aspect because the crime is the issue here,” said Anda.

But Anda said the CA decision won’t stop them from supporting the Ortega family in pursuing the case.

A witness to the case was killed recently inside the Quezon district jail in Lucena City in a case that jail officials insisted was suicide but which lawyers of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) said involved foul play.

Dennis Aranas was found dead in his cell at the jail supposedly after killing himself.

But Dr. Erwin Erfe, head of the PAO’s forensic laboratory, said Aranas had contusions in the hands and feet, signs of foul play.

Aranas, 37, who had been tagged as a lookout in Ortega’s murder, was found hanging inside his detention cell at the district jail in Lucena City in Quezon on Feb. 5. His family doubted the results of an autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation that he died of “asphyxia by hanging.”

PAO chief Persida Acosta said Aranas had bruises in the arms and legs, swelling and contusions that could indicate he was a victim of foul play.

“Have you seen someone who had undergone [fraternity] hazing rites? That’s how it looked like,” Acosta was quoted as saying in an earlier Inquirer report.

Acosta said Aranas’ family took pictures of the body immediately after he died. “I did not immediately show the pictures to our forensic doctor. When he stepped out of the examination room, he said he, too, saw the bruises,” she said.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • bogli_anakdami

    … hay naku… walang mangyayari jan sa kaso… you, flip gung gongs, are wasting your stinky breath…
    … in flipland, how many mass murderers have been convicted of murder?… NIENTE!
    … ay sus ginoo… flips puro kayo tunggaks…
    … yun lang…

  • sanjuan683

    Hoy bishop huag ka nga nakikialam sa trabaho ng CA, nagbabayad ba kayo ng tax?

  • WeAry_Bat

    Sana kayong mga bishops ganyan pa rin, ipaglaban ang hustisya at kapaligiran. Parang nung 80s mga madre lang ang mey balls at kokonti lang mga pari lumaban. Kung sabagay, mey mga pinatay din kahit yung italian priest, pati utak kinain.

    Ang hindi ko lang ma-reconcile yung hindi makipagugnayan sa RH bill. Parang hindi kayo nauubusan ng donation sa kakatulong ng mahihirap. Walang namang nakalagay na ipahintulot ang abortion dun.

  • walang pakundangan

    ipanalangin mo na lang na sana malumpo ng maaga ang mga nasasakdal at ang masamang damo ay namamatay din

  • schmuckthat

    It’s a bit scary to think that it’s OK to bypass procedures and rules, I could only imagine the chaos it would bring if people started ignoring our laws.

    There is no injustice here so stop screaming foul because really, the only injustice done was towards the Reyeses. Charges have been dropped so move on to the next suspect and stop crucifying Joel and Marjo Reyes.

  • Love God

    Bishop it seems you are not aware of what is happening in our land. We are the only Christian nation in Asia but we are No.1 in crime and corruption.

    Anyone can buy justice if the price is right. That is the reason we do not have any rich criminals in our jails.

    Better you appeal to God… On judgement day you will see majority of justices are in the front row awaiting their turn to be thrown into the lake of fire.


    HETO na naman ang isa pa…..magaling na tagasunod ng CBCP!

  • Victor Magallanes

    | sympathize with the Ortegas but I could not understand why the church should dip its hand in this issue. Bishop, instead of blabbering in the media, why don’t you and your group file the appropriate appeal in the appropriate court so that this case can move on given that you said you have enough evidence find probable cause.

    People are conveniently forgetting that technicalities and procedure before and during the trial are mechanisms which ensure an orderly dispensation of justice. Now, the Reyes brothers filed their petitions before the CA before the 2nd panel implicated them. Was it an illegal act? They were merely making use of every available remedy provided by the law. They are up against the state thus technicalities and procedure matters a lot. And this applies not only in their case but to all those accused of felonies and crimes.

    The problem here is that everyone assumes that the Reyeses are guilty rather than afford them the right of being presumed innocent unless proven otherwise. Furthermore, there is no point of discussing substance here. Mayo-Anda should know this. How can you discuss substance when there is not even a day of trial? The case falls squarely about procedure. It must be followed to the letter lest our rights might be trampled upon by this government known to ignore the law and court decisions.

  • Felix Cortado

    When will the church stop trying to dip its hands in politics and state affairs? Everybody has an opinion on matters but the bishop should consider his position and carefully consider his statements, as it puts him in a position where the fine divide between the separation of the church and state is again broken.

    Does the bishop have all the facts or is learned with procedures and due process as to give him the authority to state with conviction that the Reyes’ are indeed guilty despite the CA’s ruling?

  • Philip Vera Cruz

    Thomas Jefferson once said that religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faith or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. And state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within the religion itself.

    Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely necessary in a free society. The Bishop has clearly overstepped his boundaries. Just like what De Lima did in creating that second panel. Then again, only the Pope is infallible. The Bishop is definitely not the Pope because the Pope cant be bribed by politicians.

  • Sum Substance

    Bishop Arigo should just stay out of this. He would not want Palawenyos to question his integrity as many here know theres not too much to question anymore. We hope the CBCP could do something about this. The last thing they want is news about a priest involved in financial transactions with City Hall.

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


editors' picks



latest videos