Slain journalist’s family asks court to reconsider case dismissal against alleged masterminds, accomplices

Source: CMFR

The family of a slain Filipino broadcast journalist filed before the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) on 1 July 2011 a motion for reconsideration asking the reinstatement of charges against the alleged masterminds and several other accomplices in the killing of the victim.

Widow Patria Ortega, wife of slain Palawan-based Radio Mindanao Network (dwAR) broadcaster Gerardo 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 14 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 11 February 2011, Marlon Dechaves Recamata, hired gunman who killed Ortega, has pleaded guilty to the murder charges.
“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 29 June 2011 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.

The journalist was shot dead in front of a thrift store in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on 24 January 2011. 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 22 May 2006. The case against the alleged gunman is still being heard at the Puerto Princesa trial court.

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CMFR (http://www.cmfr-phil.org) is a SEAPA founding member based in Manila, the Philippines, working to promote ethical journalism and to protect press freedom.

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