“It took three years to arrest the Reyes brothers who went into hiding, and one day to simply junk all bases and evidences that point to them as the murderers of Ortega.”
By RUTH LUMIBAO
MANILA — Seven years ago, environmental activist, journalist, and politician Dr. Gerry Ortega was supposed to make his way to Manila to launch the Ten Million Signatures for the Banning of Mining in Palawan campaign, . He did not reach Manila as a hired assassin put bullet in his head.
Seven years later, justice remains elusive.
From the manhunt to the release
Dr. Gerry Ortega was an active environmental activist. He opposed destructive mining in Palawan and exposed the corruption and malversation of funds in the Malampaya Natural Gas Project. Former Palawan Governor Joel T. Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, were implicated in Ortega’s assassination.
Thai authorities were able to capture the Reyes brothers in 2015 in Phuket where they were overstaying, three years after Ortega was killed.
On January 5, 2018, Governor Reyes was released after the Court of Appeals ruled to dismiss his case.
“We are saddened and enraged at the hasty release of Reyes. It took three years to arrest the Reyes brothers who went into hiding, and one day to simply junk all bases and evidences that point to them as the murderers of Ortega,” said Evangeline Hernandez, chairperson of Hustisya.
“We are one with the Ortega family in asking how has it come to this, wasting years that they have attained justice for the killing of Doc Gerry,” Hernandez said.
Hustisya also took notice of how the Duterte administration has consistently favored ‘big-fish’ criminals. Considering how Duterte has kept close ties with the Marcos, Arroyo, and Estrada families, and how well-known commanding officers of the military are now placed in government positions, impunity is at its expected to reach its peak.
“It is appalling that while thousands more demand justice for victims of killings and rights violations under previous regimes, the Duterte regime, in turn, is acquitting and releasing those in jail,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez likewise called on the public to support the cause against impunity.
We would attain justice and perpetrators would not escape accountability only through a strong public clamor to make perpetrators pay for their crimes,” she ended.