DOJ: Death of witness in Ortega slay not a big loss in case

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 09 2013 08:58 AM | Updated as of Feb 09 2013 04:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The case involving the 2011 murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega in Palawan remains on course despite the alleged suicide of suspect-turned-witness Dennis Aranas inside his cell at the Quezon provincial jail last Tuesday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said yesterday.

De Lima revealed that the witness protection program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) no longer covered Aranas.

“He was provisionally admitted to the program, but upon evaluation he did not qualify for regular admission because there was a certification of non-materiality by the handling prosecutors,” she explained.

De Lima said this means the testimony of Aranas “was not material.”

“We have requisites to comply with. He did not meet them so he’s not covered,” she stressed.

The DOJ chief said that the other prosecution witnesses remain under WPP custody, including gunman-turned-witness Marlon Recamata.

Recamata, who was arrested shortly after the killing of Ortega on Jan. 24, 2011, confessed that he was hired by Rodolfo Edrad to kill the victim for P150,000. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ed Amoroso