As I See It

The assassination of Doc Gerry Ortega

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THE WIDOW and orphaned daughter of assassinated radio broadcaster Gerry Ortega went to the Kapihan sa Annabels last Saturday to ask for the help of media in getting justice for him. They distributed copies of the resolution of a three-man panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice that made a preliminary investigation of the case. It found probable cause against four of the accused but dismissed the charges against former Governors Joel Reyes and Jose Carrion and four others. I don’t understand it.

The first four were charged based on their confessions where they also named the masterminds (Reyes and Carrion) and four other co-conspirators, but whereas the prosecutors believed the confessions with regard to their own participation in the crime, they did not believe what they said about the participation of the others.

Ortega 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. Ten minutes later, after a brief chase by operatives of the police station of the municipality of San Vicente, whose attention was called by the siren of a fire truck nearby, Marlon Recamata, alias “Pusa” and “Tagar,” was arrested. The death gun was found in a trash bin along the road by the police. Recamata was brought to the Puerto Princesa Police Office where he made an extrajudicial confession and implicated Rodolfo O. Edrad Jr., alias “Bumar,” Dennis C. Aranas, and Armando R. Noel, alias “Salbakotah.”

On Jan. 25, 2011, upon invitation of the National Bureau of Investigation, Puerto Princesa, Percival B. Lecias gave a sworn statement before special investigator Cedric Caabay.

In Jan. 28, 2011, Aranas was arrested in Coron, Palawan, and was brought to Puerto Princesa where he made an extrajudicial confession.

Meantime, the PNP examined the gun used in the killing of Doc Gerry. It was a .45 caliber pistol with serial No. 1213618 registered in the name of Romeo M. Seratubias, the former provincial administrator of Palawan.

On Feb. 5, 2011, Edrad surrendered in Lucena, Quezon, to Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn. He was brought to NBI, Taft Ave. where me made an extrajudicial confession the next day. He implicated Reyes, Carrion, former Mayor Mario T. Reyes Jr. and Arturo Regalado.

On Feb. 7, 2011, Regalado appeared before assistant prosecutor Eduardo M. Logronio and swore to a statement regarding the killing of Doc. Gerry. Two days later, this time at the NBI office, he swore to another statement before agent-in-charge Bautista.

On Feb. 10, 2011 Noel surrendered and made an extrajudicial confession before the NBI, Manila.

On Feb. 27, 2011, Edwin Arandia gave himself up to Fr. Robert Reyes who accompanied him to the NBI, where he made a sworn statement the next day.

In her complaint, Doc Gerry’s widow, Dr. Patria Gloria Inocencio-Ortega, states that Governor Reyes masterminded the killing of Ortega because of his anti-corruption campaign and environmental activism in Palawan relating particularly to the handling by Reyes of the Malampaya funds during his incumbency as governor. She claims that Doc Gerry’s criticisms on these two issues contributed to the loss of Reyes in his bid for representative of the second district of Palawan.

Recamata, in his confession, said that he shot Doc Gerry, with his cohort Aranas acting as informant and lookout; that Noel hired him to kill Doc Gerry for P150,000; and that Edrad gave them a down payment of P10,000 each. He recounted that after he shot Doc Gerry he also shot at his companion as he thought he would draw a gun. Then he ran away. When he heard the siren of the fire truck, he threw the gun in a trash bin along the road and continued running. He was arrested by policemen who were at the place where he ran to.

Edrad, in his confession, stated that he was a former bodyguard of Governor Carrion and Governor Reyes. In June 2010, Carrion, told him in the garage of his home in Merville Park, Parañaque: “Bumar, may ipapatrabaho akong dalawang tao at may budget na P600,000 at i-nenegotiate ko pa itong madagdagan pa ng P100,000 para maging P700,000.” Carrion then whispered to him, “Dalawang taga media sa Palawan.”

On July 4, 2010, Edrad went to Palawan to report to Reyes who asked him if he had been told about the plot to kill two media men in Palawan. When he said yes, Reyes told him to get somebody else to do the killing as he (Edrad) was identified with him.

In December 2010, Reyes gave Edrad P100,000 for mobilization of recruits and P50,000 for the purchase of a gun, as well as three photographs of Doc Gerry, telling him that he was the target.

Edrad hired Noel from Pagbilao, Quezon, and Arandia. Edrad gave them P20,000 each plus P25,000 for expenses and the three photos of Doc Gerry.

Later, Noel and Arandia, armed with a .357 caliber pistol, left for Puerto Princesa. A few days later, Edrad called up Regalado and asked him to buy bullets for a .38 caliber pistol. In the meantime, he received a call from Noel who told him that he and Arandia could not carry out the plot as they were afraid to do so. They went back to see Edrad in Pagbilao, bringing with them the .357 caliber pistol.

Noel recommended Recamata who was willing to do the job.

(To be continued)

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