The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines has commemorated the 4th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega—the Puerto Princesa City broadcaster, environmentalist and anti-corruption crusader.
A hired assassin shot Ortega in broad daylight shortly after the latter closed his radio program on January 24, 2011.
In a statement, NUJP Secretary General Rupert Francis Mangilit said that the alleged masterminds—former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother Marjo—remain in hiding.
”There are two key issues the NUJP wants to raise. First, the continued failure of our law enforcement agencies to capture high profile suspects in a landmark media killing case such as the Ortega murder speaks volumes about this government’s lack of judicial and political resolve to address violence in general and the impunity with which media killings continue to be carried out,” the group said.
The NUJP also lamented the snail-paced disposition of the case judicial processes involving the Ortega murder.
“[These] can and must be addressed pro-actively by the Department of Justice and the national political leadership. Only such positive action can prove an affirmative policy response to impunity. Failure to do so will mean the government can’t care less about impunity,” the group added.
Mangilit claimed that the hunt for the Reyes brothers have gone from rhetoric to amnesia.
“There is, in fact, no sign a manhunt is even taking place, insofar as the family and relatives of the victim are concerned. Even the posters of the fugitive brothers put up at one time by the police in public places have been torn down. The government’s assurance that something is being done to bring the Reyes brothers to justice is not matched by deeds. Over three years and the government, with all its presumed access to law enforcement technologies and resources, have nothing to show,” the statement read.
The case is pending in the Supreme Court, after the Court of Appeals curiously upheld the defense’s claim that the creation of a second panel by the Department of Justice, which indicted the Reyes brothers and their accomplices, was illegal.
The Ortega family, Mangilit added, fears that the murder trial will only result in having the masterminds go scot-free after the Justice Department refused to concede to their petition for review.
The NUJP also challenged the government to launch “a real manhunt to bring the Reyes brothers to the custody of the courts and find concrete solutions to speed up the prosecution of the Ortega murder case and other media killings.”