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Journalists, human rights advocates and family of slain environmentalist and journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega picketed the Court of Appeals in Manila calling on the court to not dismiss the murder charges against former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother Mario (a former mayor of Coron). Ortega was assassinated on January 24, 2011 by four men in Palawan for his outspoken stand against mining operations in Palawan.
Christine O. Avendaño reported for the Philippine Inquirer:
Ortega’s daughter Mika led supporters and cause-oriented groups such as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in opposing the petition filed by former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes.
The Reyes brothers were charged in a Palawan trial court with the murder of Ortega in January last year. They have been in hiding since March this year and are believed to have fled the country.
“We would like to ask the court not to give in to the petition of the Reyes brothers to dismiss the charges against them at the Department of Justice and the warrant of arrest issued by the trial court,” Mika Ortega said.
“We can see they have a disrespect for our courts and our laws so why grant them relief?’” she said.
Ortega said reports reaching her family revealed that efforts were being made by the Reyes camp to “maneuver things” at the Court of Appeals.
The National Union of Journalists also released a statement:
With the 40th anniversary of Martial Law approaching, Michaella noted how impunity has remained even after the Marcos dictatorship, with advocates like his father still being killed “during a time of supposed peace, during a time of democracy.”
“Impunity does not need an authoritarian rule in order to reign. All it requires is for people in government to turn a blind eye,” she added.
Sept. 24 will mark the 20th month since the killing of Gerry Ortega.
Groups that participated include the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos), First Quarter Storm Movement, Kalikasan-People’s Network for Environment, and Hustisya.