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Family of Slain Dr. Gerry Ortega Shocked
« on: January 07, 2018, 02:10:39 AM »
By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA -- The family of slain radioman and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega was “shocked” upon learning that the Court of Appeals (CA) cleared former Palawan governor Joel Reyes of his liability in connection with the 2011 murder case filed against him.

The former governor was freed from Palawan city jail Friday following Jan. 4 CA ruling, which found no basis for the Palawan Regional Trial Court to order his arrest nor convict him for Ortega’s death.

Ortega’s daughter Mika Ortega lamented that the CA decision came only a few weeks before the 7th year anniversary of her father’s murder, or as she called it, “seven years of fighting for justice and press freedom.”

“Our family is still recovering from the shock of yesterday's (Jan. 4) CA decision ordering the release of former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, the mastermind for the murder of radio broadcaster, environmentalist, and anti corruption advocate Dr Gerry Ortega,” MIka said in a text message sent to reporters on Saturday.

“We have not received the copy of the decision yet. We will need time with our lawyers to study it and plan our next move. Until then, we ask everyone to remain vigilant,” she said.

According to the CA’s Former Eleventh Division, Special Division of Five, there was no evidence presented to try Reyes for Ortega’s killing.

“Our hands are tied by our bounded duty to administer justice and abide by the law. No evidence, no conviction. So be it,” the appellate court said in its 24-page decision penned by Associate Justice Normandie Pizzaro.

“This Court could only hope that he would take advantage and give full-faith and meaning to this second lease on life given him. He is definitely saved from the 20 year or so imprisonment metable to the offense charged,” read the decision dated Jan. 4, 2018.

“Call it a second chance afforded him by God, or a lucky three-point play for him to use a common street lingo or a miracle in his favor, the petitioner (Reyes) must by all means be exonerated from the charge,” it said.

In turn, the CA ordered the Palawan RTC to dismiss the cases against Reyes and ordered his immediate release from detention.

Reyes was released from jail at about 5:40 p.m Friday (Jan. 5)., according to his lawyer Demetrio Castro.

The former governor’s release, he said, is happy news for all his supporters.

Before he was jailed, Reyes escaped to Phuket, Thailand with his brother Mario. They were arrested by Thai police in September 2015 and repatriated to Palawan. (PNA)

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