A MILITANT human rights organization on Thursday decried President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the Court of Appeals (CA) for clearing former governor Joel Reyes of Palawan province on the killing of environmentalist and radio broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega.
“It’s a shame for President Aquino to drag the name of environmentalist and broadcaster 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,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
The group said President Aquino, in his speech before the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, 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 Reyes on the killing of Ortega. We remind President Aquino that Ortega was killed six months after he assumed presidency. We remind him that it was under his presidency that the Reyes brothers were able to sneak out of the country “unnoticed,” Palabay said.
The Court of Appeals recently absolved the Reyes brothers on the Ortega killing on sheer technicality.
“Now that evidences of President Aquino’s involvement of misuse of Malampaya funds are coming out, it appears that he may benefit from Reyes’ non-prosecution,” Palabay said.
Two years before the expose on Janet Lim Napoles’ 10-billion-peso scam and flagrant misuse of Malampaya funds, 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.
While it called for “Justice for Gerry Ortega and other victims of extrajudicial killings,” the group expressed its support for the Ortega family as they elevate their fight to the Supreme Court. NEIL A. ALCOBER