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Gov’t process pressure, teams urge SC to order rearrest of ex-Palawan guv in Ortega slay

FILE PHOTO: The Supreme Court docket emblem. (INQUIRER/LYN RILLON)

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Job Pressure on Media Safety (PTFMS), together with different teams, on Monday joined the decision to have former Palawan governor Mario Joel Reyes rearrested for his alleged position within the homicide of anti-corruption crusader, staunch environmentalist, and broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega in Puerto Princesa Metropolis in 2011.

PTFMS chief Usec. Joel Egco expressed the idea that the proof of Reyes’ guilt was sturdy within the legal case filed in opposition to the previous Palawan governor.

He issued the assertion after the Workplace of the Solicitor Common (OSG) requested the Supreme Court docket to elevate the March 23, 2022, short-term restraining order (TRO) of the Puerto Princesa Metropolis regional trial courtroom (RTC) to have Reyes rearrested.

READ: OSG asks SC to elevate TRO, desires ex-Palawan guv rearrested for Ortega slay

“The Presidential Job Pressure shares the feelings of the OSG in its movement to elevate the TRO which is stopping the re-arrest of the previous governor. We consider that the proof of guilt is robust within the legal case filed in opposition to Reyes in reference to the slaying of Gerry Ortega,” Egco mentioned in a press release.

Beforehand, Egco backed the motion of the OSG in initiating an investigation to search out any anomaly with regard to the Court docket of Appeals’ (CA) 2018 determination to launch Reyes from detention as a result of alleged insufficiency of proof within the homicide case.

In its 62-page remark, the OSG additionally requested the SC magistrates to dismiss the petition for assessment filed by Reyes on the excessive courtroom.

“I’ve full belief and confidence with the OSG, as a member company of PTFoMS, in its dedication to attaining justice for this heinous act. The duty pressure won’t stand idly by till all these chargeable for the killing of Ortega, together with the masterminds, are put behind bars,” Egco mentioned.

Ortega was gunned down on January 24, 2011, in Puerto Princesa Metropolis after the airing of his radio program “Ramatak.” Many thought of him an “environmental hero.”

Marlon Recamata, the gunman, was arrested and pleaded responsible to homicide in February 2011.

Reyes was tagged by a former bodyguard, Rodolfo Edrad, because the mastermind behind the killing of Ortega, who had criticized the previous Palawan governor for the supposed destruction of the atmosphere within the province.

Additionally implicated within the killing was Reyes’ brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes. The 2 are working for governor and mayor, respectively, within the coming elections on Could 9.

READ: Reyes brothers in Ortega killing arrested in Thailand

For his half, senatorial candidate and former Bayan Muna party-list consultant Neri Colmenares referred to as for the TRO for the rearrest of Reyes a “nice injustice” for the folks of Palawan.

“Contemplating the circumstances of evading arrest earlier than their trial, the latest determination to put aside the arrest warrant of the mastermind of the homicide, former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, is very questionable. The trial for the homicide of Gerry Ortega already took a sluggish tempo with Governor Reyes and his brother hiding in Thailand, which ought to be seen as an indication of guilt,” he added.

Colmenares, who can be a human rights lawyer, additionally mentioned the SC TRO is questionable as different inmates proceed to languish inside cramped detention services, regardless of the weak spot of their circumstances.

“With the SC setting apart their arrest whereas they enchantment the case, it begs the query, what makes former Governor Reyes particular that he will get the privilege of a TRO whereas different detainees proceed to languish inside cramped detention services, regardless of the weaknesses of their circumstances?” he added.

The senatorial aspirant additionally mentioned that witness testimonies corroborate and are sturdy sufficient to face in courtroom and convict the previous governor and his brother.

“How the Reyes brothers additionally stalled the circumstances with their hiding, permitting former Governor Reyes to be free and run for workplace, solely insults the legacy of Doc Gerry, who had ardently defended Palawan from environmental plunder. Reyes had already been convicted for graft for his questionable issuances of mining permits. That alone ought to have saved him behind bars. And even with the Ortega homicide case underneath assessment, he, like another detained suspect, ought to keep in jail till a ultimate verdict is reached. Till this obtrusive mistake is remedied, our justice system stays dysfunctional,” Colmenares mentioned.

For lawyer and environmental coverage knowledgeable Dean Tony La Viña, it will be helpful to make clear the standing of the 2 circumstances — one for the homicide of Ortega for which trial continues to be to be carried out, and one other involving graft and corruption the place a judgment of conviction has been rendered however being appealed earlier than the SC.

“On the primary case, the SC should resolve the movement for reconsideration that Mr. Reyes has filed on the reinstatement by the Court docket of Appeals of the fees filed in opposition to him. The OSG has opposed that movement and has requested for the lifting of the TRO in order that the Ortega homicide trial is resumed and accomplished. On the second case, the place perpetual disqualification for public workplace, has been meted on Mr. Reyes, the Court docket should affirm the conviction,” La Viña mentioned

“In each circumstances, no ultimate determination of the SC has been issued. We count on that justice can be completed as soon as the method is accomplished,” he mentioned.

Worldwide journalist group Safer World for the Reality mentioned it welcomes OSG’s request to the SC to “order the fast re-arrest and detention” of the previous Palawan governor, saying that this request follows a decade of Reyes’ delaying and escaping prosecution regardless of the sturdy proof of guilt.

“This evasion of prosecution by Joel T. Reyes outcomes constitutes impunity, but additionally a risk to the household of Gerry Ortega, and all different journalists within the Philippines. It sends the message that murdering journalists can go unpunished,” the group mentioned.

READ: 9 years after doctor-radioman Gerry Ortega’s homicide, NUJP nonetheless pushing for justice

The Nationwide Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in the meantime, mentioned it stands with the household and mates of Ortega in calling for justice for his homicide, including that it welcomes the transfer by the OSG and PTFMS to have Reyes rearrested.

“The course of the case, which has run for greater than a decade, and that decision for justice essentially contains the decision for the arrest of former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his continued trial as a suspected mastermind within the homicide,” it mentioned.

“These are authorized arguments, however we maintain to a extra fundamental motive for his arrest: A homicide suspect who can evade arrest and go about his political enterprise can affect the case and whereas Reyes could also be inside his rights to run for workplace, it’s seemingly that he doesn’t have the proper to do it exterior of presidency custody,” it added.

The NUJP additionally mentioned that press freedom and human rights teams have lengthy held that impunity in assaults in opposition to journalists emboldens those that search to silence the important press and put the whole media neighborhood at better threat.

“We be a part of Doc Gerry’s household, mates, and supporters in calling for the long-delayed justice for his homicide and name as effectively for his arrest to face trial for the killing. Extra broadly, we be a part of the decision for persevering with reforms that may assist protect crime scenes, velocity up investigations and prosecution of those that assault journalists,” it additional mentioned.


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