Lead suspect in Gerry Ortega’s slay freed; culture of impunity intensifies

Impunity worsens as former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, mastermind behind the killing of broadcast journalist and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega, was released from prison last January 5.

Ortega exposed corruption in Palawan and accused Reyes of misusing the Malampaya fund, sourced from operations of the Malampaya gas and oil fields off the coast of the province.

He was shot dead while fitting garments inside an “ukay-ukay” store in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, at around 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2011.

Joel and brother ex-Coron town mayor Mario Reyes were implicated in Ortega’s murder in January 2011 in Puerto Princesa City.

The case went on trial while Reyes was in hiding for three years. But the Reyes brothers were eventually arrested in Thailand and brought back to the country to face trial in 2015.

The culture of impunity in the Philippines has risen to alarming proportions throughout the years. Exemption of wrongdoers from punishment is fueled by the reactionary government, giving confidence to perpetrators in the killings of journalists, human rights defenders, political activists, and down to the basic masses.

Journalists who are vocal about their criticisms on the government have also been a long target of counterinsurgency programs like Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan. Here the government legitimizes its attacks on journalists who are reporting on issues of landlessness of peasants and militarization in indigenous communities.

The current heated political situation drives journalists to expose the truth. And under an extremely ruthless and fascist government, they will always be under constant threats along with the Filipino people fighting against this regime that is fanned by the United States.

In fact, this culture of impunity which has long tarnished our society is what pushes people to wage a national democratic revolution with a socialist perspective.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines demands justice to Ortega and all media personnel who was killed in line of their duty. The Guild will never cease its call to hold the culprits accountable for the worsening culture of impunity, along with the US-Duterte regimes atrocious atracks against the Filipino people.

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