Impunity, Journalist killings

Family of slain Palawan journalist files MR against dismissal of alleged masterminds, accomplices (UPDATED)
POSTED BY || 1 July 2011

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – The family of a slain Palawan broadcast journalist filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) a motion for reconsideration asking the reinstatement of charges against the alleged masterminds and several other accomplices in the killing of the broadcaster, July 1.

Widow Patria Ortega, wife of slain Palawan-based Radio Mindanao Network (dwAR) broadcaster Gerry Ortega, together with her child Mika and legal counsel, filed before the DOJ a petition for partial reconsideration against the DOJ resolution clearing alleged mastermind former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and five others of murder charges during the preliminary investigation.

In a 21-page resolution dated 8 June 2011, the DOJ prosecution panel handling the Ortega case found insufficient evidence against Reyes, former Marinduque Gov. Bong Carreon, Coron, Palawan Mayor Mario Reyes Jr., lawyer Romeo Seratubias, Arturo Regalado, and Percival Lecias.

They, however, found probable cause to file murder charges against Reyes’s alleged security aide Rodolfo Edrad Jr., Armando Noel, Dennis Aranas, and Arwin Arandilla.

On Feb. 11, Marlon Dechaves Recamata, hired gunman who killed Ortega, has pleaded guilty to the murder charges.

“Sobra po akong nadepress. Para akong namatayan ng pangalawang beses. (I was so depressed. It was as if I somebody from my family had died again.),” Patria told the media on the DOJ resolution.

Meanwhile, Ortega’s lawyer Harry Roque said  he has also filed a motion on June 29 to re-open the preliminary investigation. Roque said the National Bureau of Investigation had found new evidence, a telephone conversation between Edrad and Reyes.

Ortega and other supporters also went to the office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to seek  the bishops’support.

Ortega’s family and supporters also called on President Benigno Aquino III to act on the case and other cases of media killings.

Ortega was shot dead in front of a thrift store in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Jan. 24. He had just come from his daily radio program “Ramatak” when an unidentified man shot him in the head. A known “staunch critic” of illegal mining activities in Palawan, Ortega also reported on alleged corruption in the local government in his radio program.

Around 121 journalists/media practitioners have been killed in the line of duty since 1986. Aside from Ortega, Palawan Broadcasting Corp. (dyPR) radio commentator Fernando “Dong” Batul is the other  journalist killed in the line of duty in Palawan. He was killed on May 22, 2006. The case against the alleged gunman is still being heard at the Puerto Princesa trial court.

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