MANILA, Philippines – “We support the Ortega family’s quest for justice and the filing of a motion for reconsideration to reverse the DOJ decision clearing former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes of involvement on the murder of Dr. Gerry Ortega,” said envi-justice group, Task Force Justice for Environmental Defenders.
The DOJ rejected the filing of criminal charges against Joel Reyes who was tagged as the mastermind of the killing by his former body guard, Roberto Edrad, Jr., who confessed to organizing the assassination team that murdered Dr. Ortega on January 24.
“Evidence presented against Reyes is more than enough to establish him as the primary suspect in the killing of Dr. Ortega. We believe that Edrad’s confession and the potential interest in the killing should not have been discounted in making the decision to absolve the ex-governor of any involvement,” said Marjorie Pamintuan, one of the convenors of TF Justice for Environmental Defenders.
“We call on Secretary De Lima to review and junk the decision of the DOJ special panel of prosecutors which decided to drop murder charges against former Palawan Gov. Joel T. Reyes. Sec. De Lima should form a different panel of prosecutors which can impartially and intelligently assess and decide on the Dr. Ortega murder case.”
“Likewise, we challenge President Aquino to act on the murder of Dr. Ortega since this case is also related to anti-corruption, an issue strongly advocated by the President. Dr. Ortega is known for his hard-hitting commentaries in his radio program against corruption in the local government. Among the corruption issues that Dr. Ortega followed is the misuse of billion of taxes from the Malampaya natural gas project by provincial government officials.”
“President Aquino should break his prolonged silence on the Ortega murder case as well as on the six (6) other cases of environmental defenders who were killed during his one year in office.”
According to the monitoring of environmental group Kalikasan-PNE, there are already seven (7) environmentalists killed under the Aquino administration. The list includes world-renowned botanist Leonard Co. All seven (7) cases remain unsolved up to this day. The Aquino administration also failed to resolve the cases of 33 killings and two (2) enforced disappearances of environmentalists that occurred during the Arroyo administration.