Arturo “Nonoy” Regalado, a known close aide of former Palawan governor and alleged mastermind Joel Reyes, was sentenced to reclusion perpetua.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – One of the suspects in the murder of broadcaster and environmentalist Gerardo Ortega was convicted by a local court March 7.
Arturo “Nonoy” Regalado, a known close aide of former Palawan governor and alleged mastermind Joel Reyes, was sentenced to reclusion perpetua or a maximum of 40 years imprisonment by Branch 52 Judge Angelo Arizala of the Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa City, according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).
The court also ordered Regalado to pay P50,000 as civil indemnity, P7.6 million in lost earning capacity, P526,000 in actual damages, P50,000 in moral damages and P30,000 in exemplary damages.
Regalado will serve his sentence at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan.
The court established that Regalado provided the money to purchase the gun used in the murder of Ortega, the CMFR said in its article.
Ortega was in a store in Puerto Princesa when he was gunned down in 2011.
A self-confessed gunman Marlon Recamata identified Reyes and his brother, former Coron town mayor Mario Reyes, as the masterminds in the Ortega murder. On May 7, 2013, the Palawan court sentenced Recamata to reclusion perpetua.
The Reyes brothers fled the country before the issuance of an arrest warrant by the Palawan Regional Trial Court against them in 2012. In the same year, President Benigno Aquino III offered a P2 million reward for their arrest.
The brothers were arrested for overstaying in Thailand on September 20, 2015. Their deportation revived the flagging legal proceedings in the Ortega’s case.
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) welcomed the development, saying the conviction of Regalado “closes another link in the conspiracy that a state witness has established leads all the way to Joel Reyes and his brother Mario.”
“With the conviction of Regalado, we look forward to the day the case against the Reyes brothers is finally decided and justice given to Gerry Ortega, his family and the people of Palawan whom he served,” the NUJP said.
There have been 151 journalists killed in the line of duty in the Philippines since 1986. According to the CMFR, only 15 out of these 151 cases have been partly resolved with the conviction of the gunmen. No mastermind has so far been successfully prosecuted, except in the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre trial, in which some of the accused are said to be among the masterminds.