Kin, activists mark 1st year of Ortega slay
Environmentalists and human rights activists renewed their call for justice for slain Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega as they marked his first death anniversary Tuesday with simultaneous protest actions in Manila and Puerto Princesa.
Family members and protesters called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up the filing of charges against the former Palawan Gov. Joel T. Reyes and former Marinduque Gov. Antonio “Bong” Carreon, whom they alleged to be the masterminds.
A three-man DOJ panel in June last year had dismissed the allegations against Reyes and some others. However, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima formed a new panel to review the case and receive new evidence.
Ortega’s eldest daughter, Mika, claimed in a press conference on Monday that the family had submitted to the DOJ panel “more than enough evidence … to establish probable cause (against Reyes).”
“We’re hoping to finally go to trial,” Mika added.
In a court hearing against an arrested suspect, Marlon Recamata, the prosecution’s star witness yesterday formally repeated allegations that Reyes and Carreon had conspired to kill the broadcaster.
The witness, Rodolfo Edrad Jr., said to be Reyes’ former security aide, told the judge he was ordered by Reyes to kill Ortega and another journalist, and had hired Recamata to do the job for P150,000.
Reyes has denied any association with Edrad.
Supporters of the slain Ortega have formed a movement to pressure the DOJ and Malacañang to focus on the case.
The running priest complained the case has “languished at the DOJ for too long despite the strong evidence that should already establish probable cause against the masterminds.”
“The President should take a strong position against media killings and really do something about it,” he said.
Ortega’s widow, Patty, told reporters “anything can happen at the DOJ” but expressed hope that the new panel of prosecutors will favor their plea.
She said the new evidence submitted by the complainants included phone records establishing repeated communications between former Governor Reyes and his bodyguard, Edrad Jr., on the exact day Ortega was killed, while Reyes was vacationing in Switzerland.
“The Aquino government should exert efforts equal to their prosecution of (Chief Justice Renato) Corona in bringing to justice the perpetrators of killings and other human rights violations against environmental advocates such as Dr. Gerry Ortega,” said Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan PNE national director.
Kalikasan said it had recorded 51 cases of human rights violations that involved environmentalists since 2001 and nine of them happened under the present regime.
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