A PALAWAN COURT has issued arrest warrants against former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes, his brother Mario, and his former provincial administrator on charges of murdering Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega in January 2011.
At the same time, the Department of Justice issued a watch list order against the three to prevent them from leaving the country.
The new developments came in quick succession after a year-long hiatus in the Ortega murder case that saw a Justice Department panel of prosecutors initially throwing out the murder charges against Governor Reyes in June last year. Following a flurry of protests from the Ortega family and supporters, the Justice department created a new panel of prosecutors that overturned the first decision and recommended the filing of the charges against Reyes.
Yesterday, Palawan Regional Trial Court branch 52 Judge Angelo Arizala issued the arrest warrants against former governor Mario Joel T. Reyes, Coron mayor Mario T. Reyes Jr., and former provincial governor Romeo Seratubias. Arizala commanded the PNP to bring the three accused before his court “as soon as possible to be dealt with according to law.”
Arizala also ordered that the arrest warrant against governor Reyes be transmitted immediately to the Makati police, as Reyes has listed his residence in Dasmarinas Village, in Makati City.
Arizala said no bail was granted for any of the three accused.
Ortega was shot dead by a gunman along Puerto Princesa’s national highway on January 24, 2011, minutes after concluding his radio program Ramatak at radio station DWAR.
The city’s close circuit cameras even caught the gunman on tape as he ran to escape pursuers moments after shooting Ortega. A passing group of firemen however saw the fleeing gunman and arrested him.
arrival of the gunman and lookouts in Palawan
the scene of the crime
a failed escape
The gunman was identified as Marlon Recamata, an alleged hired gun from Quezon. Recamata later confessed to the crime, and implicated several other people, including the alleged lookouts and their handler, identified as Rodolfo Edrad Jr.
For his part, Edrad also confessed to his participation, and identified former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and former Marinduque governor Jose Carrion as the masterminds in the murder. The two officials have denied any involvement in the killing of Ortega.
At the same time, police found the .45 pistol used by Recamata to shoot Ortega. The pistol was traced to former Palawan provincial administrator Romeo Seratubias, who claimed that he had sold the pistol to someone else before the murder occurred. Curiously, Seratubias could only produce a handwritten note as proof that he sold his pistol.
In June last year, a panel of prosecutors had dismissed the murder charges against the two Reyeses and Carrion, saying that there was insufficient evidence to charge them in court. Instead, the panel of prosecutors recommended the filing of murder charges against Recamata, Edrad, and several others directly involved in the shooting.
Edrad had angrily complained that while he had confessed to his involvement in the murder and had identified the masterminds, his statements had been disregarded.
However, after the Ortega family filed an appeal with the Justice department, a new panel of prosecutors decided to include the two Reyeses and Seratubias in the murder charge.
the PCIJ documentary on Doc Gerry Ortega