Palawan residents rally vs DOJ ruling on Gerry Ortega slay
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—At least 2,000 people took part in a rally at the provincial capitol here to dramatize protest over a recent Department of Justice ruling that exonerated ex-Gov. Joel Reyes in the murder of journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega.
Patria Ortega, the slain journalist’s widow, said it was a prelude to the filing of a motion for reconsideration at the DOJ asking Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to reject a resolution by a three-man prosecutors’ panel that cleared Reyes and several other political figures of involvement in the murder of Gerry.
Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo, according to Patria, issued an appeal over a local radio station calling on Palawan folk to show their support for the campaign to press the DOJ and Malacañang to pursue the murder case against Reyes and other suspects.
“The clamor for justice is not just a duty of everyone who supported Gerry’s advocacies,” the bishop was quoted as saying. “It is also our responsibility as Christians to seek the truth and deny this travesty of justice.”
“We wanted to hold the protest (rally) here in the seat of the crime,” said running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, who took part in the rally.
Father Reyes said the protest rallies would continue to build up pressure for the reversal of the DOJ ruling that cleared Reyes.
“Something fishy must have happened in the confines of the DOJ,” said lawyer Joselito Alisuag, the Ortegas’ counsel.
Alwyn Alburo, director of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), said the NUJP would lead a campaign in Manila to convince the DOJ to let the case against Reyes be tried in court.
“We are 110 percent behind the prosecution of the case,” said Alburo, speaking for the NUJP.
Rally organizers, led by members of the Justice for Ortega Movement, said they chose the capitol as venue for the rally to protest the provincial government’s “tacit endorsement” of the DOJ ruling that cleared Reyes, a political ally of the incumbent governor, Baham Mitra.
Mitra and another provincial official had issued an affidavit saying they knew of no motive by Reyes to have Ortega murdered.
Ortega was shot dead on Jan. 24 by a hired gunman who was captured after the attack. Rodolfo Edrad Jr., who confessed to taking part in plotting Ortega’s murder, testified that it was Reyes who ordered the killing.
The DOJ prosecutors’ panel, however, ruled in favor of Reyes and excluded him from the case, including former Marinduque Gov. Antonio Carreon and Reyes’ brother, Coron Mayor Marjo Reyes.
Mitra has kept mum on the DOJ resolution since it was released on June 21.