THE FAMILY OF murdered Palawan broadcast journalist and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega dismissed reports that the Court of Appeals has already voided the arrest warrants against former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes.
Ortega’s wife Patria said that a close reading of the Court of Appeals ruling shows that the court has not voided the arrest warrant against the Reyes brothers.
As such, Patria said the arrest warrant, the murder charges, as well as the P2 million reward money offered for each of the two Reyes brothers still stand.
Earlier last week, the appellate court ruled that the Justice Secretary erred when she ordered the creation of a new panel to determine if charges should be filed against the Reyes brothers. The year before, the first DOJ panel declared that there was insufficient evidence to pin the murder of Gerry Ortega on the Reyes brothers.
The second panel found probable cause against the Reyes brothers, and ordered the filing of charges against them.
“The simple facts are the murder case is still pending in Palawan, the arrest warrant is in effect and there is still a reward of P2 million each for the fugitive Reyes brothers,” Patria Ortega said in a statement.
Mrs. Ortega said reports that the CA ruling in effect voided the arrest warrants against the Reyes brothers were “conscious disinformation” released by the camp of the Reyeses.
Mrs. Ortega also thanked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for not giving up despite the CA ruling. “While we lament the appellate court’s decision based on technicality, we thank Secretary De Lima and Malacanang for standing their ground against the CA ruling,” she said. “This gives my family continued hope and confidence that there is justice under President Aquino’s administration.”
“What my family wants, what we have only ever asked for, is to be given a fair and honest trial. Up to this day, the Reyes brothers have not yet been arraigned. They continue to refuse to face allegations in court. And they remain international fugitives who escaped by using fake passports,” Mrs Ortega added.
The Reyes brothers have gone into hiding since arrest warrants were issued against them earlier this year. They were last reported to have fled to neighboring Vietnam.
Dr. Gerry Ortega was a radio broadcaster and environmentalist who had been critical of the Reyes brothers.
Ortega was murdered in broad daylight in Puerto Princesa City in January 2011. His killer was immediately caught by police, resulting in the arrest of several accomplices. In the end, a former soldier named Rodolfo Edrad Jr., who claimed he had been hired to organize the murder, surrendered to the authorities and asked to be placed under the witness protection program. Edrad identified the Reyes brothers as the ones who hired him to organize the hit on Ortega.
You may also watch an interview with Patria Ortega and daughter Mika Ortega on NBN-4’s Newslife below.