Philippines Department of Justice must uphold Murder Charges
The Philippines Department of Justice must uphold Murder Charges Against Former Governor and Mayor
The International Federation of Journalists stands in solidarity with its affiliate The National Union of Journalists and the family, friends and supporters of murdered journalist and environmental activist Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega as they stage a rally today, September 10, in front of the Court of Appeals, Manila.
Human Rights, media and civil society groups seeking justice for the slain journalist will stage a rally urging the appellate court to reject petitions filed by former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and Mayor Mario Reyes –alleged masterminds in the killing of Gerry Ortega - to drop the murder charges against them.
“We hope you can help my family find justice by letting our story be heard. It has been said that evil thrives in the dark and spreads in silence. And so we must shed light and make some noise,” said Gerry’s daughter Michella Ortega in a text message.
On March 12, 2012, a review panel formed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) ruled to file murder charges against the Reyes brothers, former Marinduque Governor Jose Antonio Carrion, Arturo Regalado, Atty. Romeo Serratubias, and Percival Lecias.
The day after, March 13, the DoJ issued a “Lookout Bulletin”, instructing immigration officers to look out for the Reyes brothers in case they attempted to flee the country.
Despite this, reports surfaced that Joel and Mario Reyes left the Philippines on March 18, aboard a Cebu Pacific Flight 5J751 bound for Vietnam. Joel Reyes allegedly used an authentic passport with the name Joseph Lim Pe.
Joel and Mario Reyes filed petitions through the Court of Appeals 7th and 15th Divisions seeking a temporary restraining order on the arrest warrants and murder charges filed against them. Also pending is a petition filed by Mario Reyes, for a judicial review of the decision of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to file murder charges against him.
On August 30, the Ortegas revealed that they had received word “that the family and supporters of the fugitive [Reyes] brothers are doing everything and anything possible to ensure a favorable decision from the Court of Appeals.”
Gerry Ortega was killed inside a clothes store in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on January 24, 2011, shortly after his last broadcast on local station dwAR. In March, Rodolfo “Bomar” Edrad, former security aide of Carrion, surrendered, implicating the Reyes brothers in the crime.
“Gerry Ortega’s death, like those of his colleagues before him, must not go unpunished. The IFJ implores the Philippines Department of Justice, to uphold the initial indictments against the Reyes brothers, to bring those responsible for Ortega’s murder to justice, and break the cycle of impunity that has plagued the country for so long,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.