Ex-governors charged in reporter death
MANILA – Two former provincial governors and eight others have been formally charged before the Department of Justice in connection with the murder of outspoken Filipino radio commentator Dr. Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega (pictured above) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan last Jan. 24.
Charged were former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and former Marinduque Gov. Jose Antonio “Bong” Carreon, former Palawan provincial administrator Romeo Seratubias; Coron Mayor Mario Reyes Jr.; Marlon Ricamata, Dennis Aranas, Valentin Lesias, Arturo Regalado, Armando Noel, and Rodolfo Edrad.
Reyes and Carreon vehemently denied any involvement in the killing of Ortega and called the allegation as baseless and without merit.
In a five-page supplemental complaint affidavit, the wife of the victim, Dr. Patria Ortega, said that there is sufficient evidence to prove that the respondents were involved in the murder of her husband.
The widow used as basis in filing the complaint the earlier testimony of the suspects who turned witnesses -- Regalado, Edrad and Noel -- who admitted that the gun used in killing the victim is owned by Seratubias.
The slain broadcaster had exposed corruption in Palawan, and Reyes’ alleged involvement in illegal mining in the province known for its huge natural resources, including oil.
A suspect Rodolfo Edrad Jr., alias Junjun Bomar told investigators of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that he planned the killing of Ortega to silence the latter allegedly at the behest of Reyes. Edrad surrendered to Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn a few days after the killing of Ortega.
During the investigation he also implicated Carreon, his former boss, and Reyes' younger brother Marjo, the incumbent mayor of Coron town in northern Palawan, as accessories to the crime. Edrad said he was given P500,000 (US$11,400) to do the job.
Ortega was the 142nd Filipino journalist killed in line of duty since 1986. The victim was buying clothes when he was fatally shot.