By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 05Oct2013 (BicolToday.com) – The Court of Appeals’ decision absolving the Reyes brothers of Palawan on the Ortega killing for sheer technicality has caused sharp reaction from human rights group Karapatan to blame President Aquino’s hypocrisy on justice.
Media practitioner Gerry Ortega was killed after he pioneered the early expose over the misuse of Malampaya funds, linking Palawan Governor Joel Reyes’ involvement on the misuse of billions of pesos of the province’s share from the Malampaya gas project.
The expose’ by Ortega as early as 2010 was much earlier than the full-blown scandal involving the misuse of Malampaya funds now seething under public scrutiny.
The Malampaya funds scandal is now boiling under the public heat, as spin-off from the series of expose’ on the abuse of pork barrel funds by lawmakers, and the P10 billion Napoles scam.
“It’s a shame for BS Aquino to drag the name of environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega in his attempt to defend his discretionary power to use billions of people’s money and to clear his name from any involvement in the corruption cases hounding his administration,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, informing Bicol Today.com yesterday.
In his speech before the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, BS Aquino mentioned Dr. Ortega’s killing while he was investigating the misuse of the Malampaya funds, particularly in Palawan.
“He had the gall to do this, a day after the Court of Appeals’ decision to clear Palawan Governor Reyes on the killing Dr. Gerry Ortega. We remind BS Aquino that Dr. Ortega was killed six months after he assumed presidency. We remind BS Aquino that it was under his presidency that the Reyes brothers were able to sneak out of the country “unnoticed,” said Palabay.
The Court of Appeals recently absolved the Reyes brothers on the Ortega killing on sheer technicality.
“Now that evidences of BS Aquino’s involvement of misuse of Malampaya funds are coming out, it appears that Aquino may benefit from Reyes’ non-prosecution,” Palabay said.
Palabay said, “perpetrators freed from their accountabilities have become a trend under the BS Aquino regime. The killers are protected, while victims are twice victimized as they are denied justice. This is how Gen. Eduardo Año was cleared from Jonas Burgos disappearance, how Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan continues to elude arrest, how former Pres. Gloria Arroyo is still not prosecuted for her crimes against the Filipino people. This speaks of BS Aquino’s policy—to serve and protect rich killers, regardless if people’s rights are violated.”
Two years before the expose on Janet Lim Napoles’ 10-billion-peso scam and flagrant misuse of Malampaya funds, Dr. Gerry Ortega was already criticizing Gov. Reyes on his involvement on the misuse of billions of pesos of the province’s share from the Malampaya gas project.
“Ortega’s expose seemed to have opened a can full of worms that eventually led to his death on January 2011. The practice of corruption in the government bureaucracy, much like the existing culture of impunity, is deeply rooted. Those who hold the rein will do anything, even to kill anyone who tries to expose the rottenness in the bureaucracy, and use all means possible to cover up the crime to be able to perpetuate their rule,” Palabay said.
Palabay also mentioned the murders of botanist Leonard Co, Fr. Fausto Tentorio, the massacre of the Capion family whose killers were never brought to court.
“The list of murders and rights violations goes on and on without achieving any justice,” Palabay said. “Worst, witnesses to crimes and families left by the victims are subjected to further violations to sow fear,” Palabay continued.
Karapatan, while it called for “Justice for Gerry Ortega and other victims of extrajudicial killings,” expressed its support for the Ortega family as they elevate their fight to the Supreme Court. [BicolToday.com]