The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) renewed its call for justice for broadcaster Gerry Ortega in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on the ninth anniversary of his killing.
In a statement, the NUJP said it calls on the courts to resume trials against alleged masterminds in Ortega’s murders after the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed a 2018 ruling clearing former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, the primary suspect.
The group said the CA ordered the Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa to “issue a warrant of arrest against the petitioner (Reyes) and to conduct proceedings in criminal case No. 26839 with purposeful dispatch” last November.
“Today, as we remember Doc Gerry, we call on the courts to let the wheels of justice finally turn, but not turn slowly,” the group said.
Hopes that the alleged brains behind Ortega’s murder would be held accountable had been dashed when co-accused former Coron, Palawan mayor Mario Reyes was granted bail in 2016 and his brother Joel was cleared of the murder charge and freed by the Court of Appeals in January 2018.
The former governor was back behind bars however after he was convicted of graft by the Sandiganbayan three weeks later.
The NUJP expressed optimism in a conviction as the gunman and all the members of the hit team were arrested, prosecuted, and convicted.
“In a rare instance, the hired killers named the alleged masterminds, who fled the country in 2012 soon after arrest warrants were issued against them but were captured in Thailand three years after and brought back to stand trial,” the NUJP said.
Ortega—also an environmentalist, public servant, good governance advocate and civic leader—had just finished hosting his program on radio station DWAR when shot dead.
The NUJP also noted that the victim’s family never wavered in their struggle for justice, adding it can do no less.
The NUJP is set to light candles for Ortega at the Sgt. Esguerra gate of ABS-CBN tonight, January 24, as it also calls for the renewal of the media company’s legislative franchise President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to block at the House of Representatives. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)