Palawan press groups cry whitewash in Ortega murder-A A +A
Sunday, June 19, 2011
MANILA -- Press groups in Palawan on Sunday called on Justice Secretary
Leila De Lima to prevent what they see as an attempt to whitewash the murder of broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega in Puerto Princesa in January.
In a joint statement, the Alyansa ng Mamamahayag sa Palawan Inc. (Apamai) and the Palawan chapter of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines called the dropping of charges earlier this week against former Palawan governor Joel Reyes over the murder "a stunning blow to press freedom in this country."
A panel of prosecutors also cleared former Marinduque governor Antonio Carrion, Coron Mayor Mario T. Reyes, former Palawan provincial administrator Romeo Seratubias, Arturo Regalado and Percival Lecias, saying there was “no evidence sufficient to warrant (their) indictment.”
But the groups said the panel handling the case showed a "patent bias for the accused" and diregarded evidence that showed probable cause to charge Reyes in court.
"In disregarding the confession of the principal suspect who implicated former Governor Reyes, the DOJ panel unjustifiably upheld the defense of the accused notwithstanding the body of evidence that, clear as day, should at least warrant the filing of the case," the statement read.
Dr.Patria Ortega, the slain broadcaster's widow, had earlier accused
Reyes, former vice governor Dave Ponce de Leon, and incumbent Governor Abraham Mitra of having a hand in her husband's death. She said her husband was killed to silence him.
She said that the Commission on Audit only accounted for P520 million of the P3.1 billion share the province got from proceeds from Malampaya. She said her husband had been speaking out on corruption in the Malampaya fund before he was killed.
"We challenge Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, on whose watch this travesty of justice has befallen, to reject this clear attempt to whitewash a murdered journalist’s case," Apamai and NUJP said. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)