A year after Ortega’s killing…
January 24 marked the first year since broadcaster and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega was gunned down in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Like all 150 Filipino journalists murdered since 1986, justice has remained elusive in the Ortega murder case. Yes, because, in all of the 10 cases that have actually led to convictions, only the gunmen have been punished. No mastermind in the murder of a journalist has ever been punished.
What does make Ortega’s case stand out is that the quick action by authorities following his murder established what appears to be clear links between those who carried out the hit and those who ordered it. This left everyone hopeful that, unlike in all the other media killings, the resolution of the Ortega murder would actually see the first quick apprehension, prosecution, conviction and punishment of a mastermind.
But a Department of Justice prosecution panel originally cleared the alleged mastermind and others accused of helping plan the murder of Ortega, recommending charges only against the hit team in an incongruous decision that sparked outrage. Although Justice Secretary Leila de Lima eventually granted a bid by Ortega’s family to reinvestigate the case, to date there seems to be no indication that new findings are forthcoming.
As we mark the first anniversary of Dr. Gerry’s murder, we urge the DOJ to hasten the reinvestigation and ensure a credible finding. We challenge Secretary De Lima to grab this opportunity to strike a clear and unequivocal blow against the culture of impunity that has emboldened those who would violate our people’s basic rights and who have let loose a river of blood that has stained our land for the past many years.
We urge our colleagues and everyone who want to see justice finally reign in our country to join us in this call and to persevere in the struggle for the defense of our rights and liberties.
—NESTOR P. BURGOS JR., chair, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, [email protected]
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