Lone witness in Ortega murder takes stand, identifies Reyes brothers as brains
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY – The lone state witness in the Gerry Ortega murder case took the witness stand on Monday and identified former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes as the mastermind behind the killing, along with the governor’s brother and former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes.
Rodolfo “Bumar” Edrad Jr., Reyes’ former bodyguard, reiterated his claim during direct examination at the sala of Palawan Regional Trial Court Judge Angelo Arizala, that he was ordered by the former governor to devise and execute the plan to kill Ortega, a popular radio broadcaster who was critical of Reyes.
Ortega was shot and killed by a hired gunman, Marlon Recamata, inside a used clothing store near his veterinary clinic here on Jan. 24, 2011.
Recamata was arrested immediately after the shooting and was first to identify Edrad as his recruiter.
A former soldier, Edrad went into hiding after he was implicated by Recamata and several other witnesses. He later surrendered and offered to turn state witness.
Edrad’s court appearance was set in the course of the Reyes brothers’ petition for bail, which the court is expected to decide following the testimonies of Edrad and the three witnesses for the defense.
The Reyeses, in affidavits submitted during preliminary investigation, had denied Edrad’s claim.
On direct examination by prosecution lawyer Harry Roque, Edrad said he received from Mario Reyes P500,000 on the night following Ortega’s killing when he went to the latter’s house in Metro Manila.
Edrad also identified Reyes’ aide, Arturo Regalado, as the person who received the money he sent to Palawan, through a money transfer firm, as payment for the gun that was used in the murder.
Regalado, who was separately charged with murder, was convicted on March 7 and received a life sentence.
Ortega’s wife, Patria Gloria Ortega, said Edrad’s testimony was crucial to the prosecution’s bid to pin down the suspected mastermind.
“We have long wanted to present Bumar because he is the direct link to the Reyes brothers. We were always worried about his security considering the threats he is facing,” Mrs. Ortega said.
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