Aquino duty-bound to bring Ortega murder masterminds to justice
Protecting the environment is a common and universal duty, and the responsibility of protecting it extends to not only current but also future needs, and government development programs should be within the agenda of environmental protection and conservation. (The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, pp 466-470).
We, convenors of the Church People-Workers’ Solidarity (CWS), believe that the environmental crusade of Dr. Gerry Ortega was carried out in this context. His political platform as a politician showed not only a desire to eradicate corruption in government but also a resolve to fight the devious mining activities that have destroyed the environment of Palawan. His media practice was highlighted by a drive for environmental conservation and protection from notorious mining industries.
Ortega’s brutal assassination was an assault not only on environmentalism but also on the freedom of the press and human rights. It sent a message that anyone who challenges the interest of mining industries and the politicians behind them would be an open prey for murderers, that the culture of impunity which shielded the killers of human rights and environmental activists and media practitioners in the past Arroyo regime persists to this day under the current Aquino administration.
Despite the signed affidavits of self-confessed perpetrators identifying the alleged brains behind Ortega’s murder, government prosecutors dismissed last June 8 the criminal charges against the “masterminds and principals” for “insufficiency of evidence.”
We do give the alleged masterminds the benefit of the doubt, but we do not believe that Ortega’s actual killers perpetrated the crime on their own, without an order from “principals.” We do not believe that the actual killers gained anything from his death, aside from the blood money paid to them; or that Ortega’s crusade was hurting their interests. Somebody must have ordered them to kill Ortega.
CWS would like to remind the Aquino administration that it is duty-bound to give justice to Ortega’s family; and to do all it can, to use everything within its legitimate power, to ensure that the guilty, most of all the masterminds, get to face the full brunt of the law. Otherwise, the Aquino administration will be no different from the administration it succeeded.
We pray and hope that Ortega and his family will get justice.
—BP. GERARDO A. ALMINAZA, D.D. convenor, Church People-Workers Solidarity,churchpeople.workers.
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