28 February 2011
Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, College Editors Guild, League of Filipino Students and Hustiya! held a picket at the Department of Justice (DOJ) preliminary hearing on Dr. Ortega’s slay to support his family and to demand swift justice.
“Justice is being delayed. Thirty four (34) days have already passed. Despite the strong evidences pointing to the alleged mastermind, no arrests have been made,” says Clemente Bautista, Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Palawan broadcaster and environmentalist Dr. Ortega was gunned down on January 24 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. After the arrest of the suspected team of gunmen, another suspect, Rodolfo Edrad Jr., surrendered to authorities and pointed to former Palawan Governor Joel T. Reyes as the mastermind. Edrad admitted in his sworn affidavit that Gov. Reyes allegedly wanted Ortega killed because of his hard hitting commentaries on Gov. Reyes’ pro-mining policy and suspected misuse of funds from the Malampaya oil project.
“We hope that after this preliminary hearing, the alleged masterminds would be arrested and prosecuted. The family and friends of Dr. Ortega have been awaiting justice for too long. The DOJ must act swiftly on the case,” explains Bautista.
Kalikasan PNE recorded that among the 37 killings of environmental activists from 2001-2011, twenty seven (27) are anti-mining activists. Dr. Ortega is the 27th anti-mining activist killed since 2001 and the first in 2011. The rest of the 26 cases such as the murder of Armin Rios Marin of Sibuyan, Eliazar “Boy” Billanes of Koronadal, and Rie Mon “Ambo” Guran of Bicol, are also not yet solved.
In a previous statement Dr. Ortega’s family expressed their search for justice. “Along with our search for justice for Dr. Ortega is also accepting the challenge that he died for: the challenge that we can still save what is left of our beautiful environment.”###
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)