January 25, 2024
“The lack of political will, and the extreme delay in bringing to justice the killers of slain broadcaster Gerry Ortega, and in other victims of extrajudicial killings, are now on the Marcos Jr. administration,” said rights group Karapatan, as they joined environmental activists, human rights defenders and press freedom advocates in commemorating the 13th year of the killing of Palawan broadcaster and environmental defender Gerry Ortega yesterday.
The group raised questions on the recent decision of the Supreme Court to grant the petition of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, the alleged mastermind in the killing of Ortega, to transfer the ongoing trial of the case from Palawan to Quezon City.
“This case has spanned three administrations, with inordinate delays in the court proceedings. Justice has been extremely delayed and denied for the Ortega family, and we ask why?” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Palabay said they are hoping that the transfer of the case from Palawan to Metro Manila will not anymore cause delay before the court hands over its verdict on the murder charges against Reyes. The group also called for Reyes’ arrest, as the latter remains in hiding.
“This is the real ‘miscarriage of justice.’ The alleged mastermind is at large, putting him before bars seems like a far reality, as he displayed his power and connection among government officials and allies. The current administration cannot absolve itself anymore in this prolonged injustice, like the hundreds more of cases of extrajudicial killings, including the 87 more victims under Marcos Jr.,” said Palabay.
As the commemoration of Ortega’s killing coincides with the visit of United Nation Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion Irene Khan, Karapatan said that the continued injustice against the Ortega family, as well as the many journalists, media practitioners, rights defenders and freedom of expression advocates, is an issue that the Marcos Jr. administration should be made answerable.
“For continuously failing to prosecute the perpetrators, while continuing the same policy of silencing critical voices, from across sectors and in different platforms, we demand the Marcos Jr. administration to be held accountable, for Gerry Ortega and other victims of killings. At the same time, we call to stop the killing of journalists, environmental defenders, rights activists under the Marcos Jr. administration. This government should be ashamed of its statements that press freedom and freedom of expression is vibrant in the Philippines,” Palabay ended. #