Ortega widow asks DOJ to indict ex-gov Joel Reyes, et al

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2011 11:02 AM | Updated as of Jul 02 2011 06:32 AM

The widow of slain broadcaster and environment advocate Dr. Gerry "Doc Gerry" Ortega filed a partial motion for reconsideration(MR) with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Friday morning seeking the inclusion of respondents Palawan ex-governor Joel Reyes, former Marinduque Governor Bong Carrion, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes Jr., Atty. Romeo Seratubias, Arturo Regalado, and Percival Lecias in the list of those against whom the DOJ found probable cause for Ortega's murder.

In a resolution dated June 8, 2011, said respondents were absolved of the offense while respondents Rodolfo Edrad Jr., Armando Noel, Dennis Aranas and Arwin Arandia were recommended for indictment.

In her 42-page partial MR, Ortega said the panel, composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog, chair; Assistant State Prosecutor Bryan Jacinto Cacha and Atty. John Benedict Medina, required more than that which preliminary investigations are supposed to establish:probable cause.

"A close reading of the Resolution shows that the Panel's finding is contrary to the well-established principle that preliminary investigations are intended to determine only the existence of probable cause, which need only to 'rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed by a suspect' and 'does not required a full and exhaustive presentation of the parties' evidence," the motion read.

"Contrary to well-established precedent, however, the Panel appears to require actual and/or positive certainty for the indictment of Respondents JTR(Joel T. Reyes), Marjo, Carrion, Atty. Seratubias, Regalado ang Lecias."

Abundant evidence

The motion pointed out that co-complainants Philippine National Police(PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation(NBI) submitted "abundant evidence" to the DOJ panel to support the position that all respondents be indicted for Ortega's murder.

"In submitting the complaint to the Panel, said co-complainants have exercised their official functions to investigate crimes. That they believe that Respondents should be held for trial for the Murder of Dr. Gerry Ortega speaks volumes of he existence of probable cause to indict the aforementioned Respondents," the motion read.

In a news conference, Ortega reiterated that the evidence against respondents are strong.

"The panel totally disregarded the unrefuted fact that Atty. Seratubias, former provincial administrator of Joel Reyes, owned the gun used to kill Doc Gerry. It also disregarded the admitted fact that Seratubias sold the gun to Percival Lecias, with a piece of yellow paper as proof. Lecias then handed to Noynoy Regalado the gun, which eventually landed in the hands of the gunman, Marlon Recamata," she said.

"Ano pa ho ba kayang pruweba ang kailangang ipakita sa mga prosecutors? Or is Governor Joel Reyes and company so powerful and influential that the DOJ is willing to be destroyed as an institution just to save their skin?" Ortega said.

"Dito, may nagturo sa umano'y team leader ng planong paslangin ang asawa ko. Ang team leader na yun, sinabi kung sino ang mastermind. Hindi pa ba sapat yun? Nung nalaman ko ang resolusyon ng DOJ, na-depress po ako. Para na rin akong namatayan uli" she added.

She meantime challenged President Benigno Aquino III to make good his promise of making sure victims of heinous, and other crimes, are accorded justice under his watch.

"Pangulong Noynoy Aquino, tulungan po ninyo ako. Para po ito sa ordinaryong Pilipino, hindi lang para kay Doc Gerry. Panahon na para matigil ang karahasan laban sa mga mamamahayag," she said. 

Bumar testimony

Ortega also called on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who inhibited from the case because Reyes was her client in the past, to make sure that her department functions according to its mandate and appreciates the evidence against Reyes and the other absolved respondents.

Atty, Harry Roque, counsel for Ortega, slammed the panel's application of the  Res Inter Alios Acta Rule in its assailed resolution.

"In applying the Res Inter Alios Acta rules, the accused has the right to cross-examine the witnesses against him which is not available to him in preliminary investigations," Roque said.

Roque also pointed out the the DOJ panel erred in its findings when it said the testimony of Bumar implicating Reyes as the alleged mastermind was uncorroborated, since Bumar has been admitted in the DOJ's Witness Protection Program(WPP) along with co-accused Arandia.

"This is a case of one hand of the DOJ saying one thing, and the other hand doing another," Roque said.

"Ni minsan hindi nagbago ng testimonya si Bumar. Bakit sa kaso ni Sen. (Panfilo) Lacson, pinakinggan si Cezar Mancao ng DOJ kahit paulit ulit nang nagbago ang kanyang testimonya? Tapos itong isang witness na ni minsan hindi nagbago ng kwento, hindi pinakikinggan" he added.


Mitra told: Time to make a stand

Mika Ortega, daughter of Doc Gerry meantime challenged incumbent Palawan Governor Baham Mitra to take a strong stand against Ortega's killing.

"[M]ay panahon pa po, Governor, para manindigan ka ng tama. Governor Mitra, last chance. Listen to the Palawenyos. Baka magising ka na lamang isang araw na wala kang sigla sapagkat lider ka na walang pinamumunuan," she said.

Mitra submitted an affidavit to the DOJ panel attesting to the character of Reyes, which earned the ire of the Ortegas. The Ortegas had earlier accused Mitra of defending Reyes in public.

Aside from filing the motion, Ortega had earlier asked the DOJ to reopen the preliminary investigation on the complaint because of new evidence against Reyes -- records of supposed phone conversations between Reyes and Bumar during the material time testified to by Bumar as the period the planning was staged for Ortega's murder.

Journalists from Palawan were in attendance during the Ortega news conference to throw their support for the family.

Alyansa ng Palawenong Mamamahayag, Inc. and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines(NUJP) Palawan Chapter officials were also present during the event.