Technicalities get in the way of justice
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is dismayed by but not surprised at the Court of Appeals decision affirming its March ruling to set aside the recommendations of a second panel of prosecutors to indict former Palawan governor Joel Reyes for the murder of our colleague Gerry Ortega.
As the lawyer of the Ortega family has said, the decision does not clear Reyes of the charges since it was based on a mere technicality, which found Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in error for creating the second panel instead of reviewing the original panel’s findings, as she had been asked to do by our late colleague’s kin.
Our belief remains strong that, notwithstanding the infirmities that continue to riddle our justice system, in the end, those responsible for silencing Ortega will be made to suffer for the crime they committed, not just against our colleague, not just against his family, but against the people of Palawan and of the country in general.
Like Marlene Esperat, one of the first to blow the whistle on the fertilizer fund scam, Ortega was murdered because of his untiring crusade against corruption and for good governance, as he sought to expose the abuse of his province’s share of the revenues from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project.
It would, indeed, be a travesty of justice, not just for Esperat and Ortega but also for all our colleagues who have been murdered for their work to expose corruption, to let those responsible for their deaths go scot-free, especially now, given the increasing revelations of how venal government officials have been in raking it in not just from the pork barrel but also from the fertilizer scam and Malampaya revenues and, Lord knows, how many more scams big and small.
At the same time, we call on Secretary De Lima to ensure that all legal proceedings connected with the prosecution of those responsible for murdering Ortega are airtight.
We must not allow justice to slip away on technicalities.
—ROWENA PARAAN, chair,
National Union of Journalists
of the Philippines, FSS Building.,
89 Scout Castor cor. Scout Tuason Sts.
(near T. Morato Avenue),
Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City
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