Coddling of accused in Ortega slay bared

CIDG says Reyes aide continued to get salary as provincial employee


Former Palawan Governor Joel T. Reyes INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The aide of fugitive ex-governor Joel T. Reyes, one of the key accused in the murder of environmentalist and journalist Gerry Ortega, continued to be in the payroll of the provincial government of Palawan even while in detention.

Investigators from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) found that Arturo Regalado, who was accused along with the former governor and several others of murdering Ortega, continued to receive his salary as a jail watchman while he is detained for the murder case.

A police investigation report said the continued recognition by the provincial government of Regalado as an employee showed that provincial officials had been coddling the accused.

Regalado has been tagged as the coordinator of the assassination team that was hired to kill Ortega in 2011.

“Up to the year 2012, Regalado was still an employee of the Provincial Jail Management Division and received salary (until June 2013) even while he is detained,” said a CIDG report obtained by the Inquirer.

Baham Mitra, who lost in the May elections to businessman Jose Alvarez, was governor at that time. He is not available to comment on the CIDG report.

Regalado is known to be a personal aide of the fugitive ex-governor who is in hiding along with his brother, Mario, a former mayor.

Regalado himself had turned fugitive and hid in Manila before he turned himself in to a police team that has been hunting him down.

Ramon Espina, provincial jail warden, said in an interview with local radio station dwAR, said Regalado, however, has not been receiving his salary although his name has not been stricken out of a list of provincial employees with active plantilla positions.

“I have been waiting for an official certification that he is no longer an employee,” Espina said in the radio interview.

When Regalado was implicated in the murder investigation, the administration of Mitra, a political ally of the Reyeses, announced that Regalado is no longer an employee of the provincial government at the time of Ortega’s murder.

Police investigation had established that Regalado led the surveillance operation on Ortega that culminated in his assassination by a hit team from Quezon province that arrived in Puerto Princesa just days before Ortega was shot in a used clothing store on Jan. 24, 2011.

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