Reinstated murder charge vs ex Palawan governor gives hope to Gerry Ortega kin

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2019 10:55 PM | Updated as of Dec 21 2019 11:08 PM

PUERTA PRINCESA—After the Court of Appeals (CA) reinstated the murder charge laid against former Palawan governor Mario Joel Reyes over the death of broadcaster-environmentalist Gerry Ortega, the victim's family hopes justice will be served.

"Siyempre umaasa kami at ipinagdadasal namin," said Michaella Ortega, the late broadcaster's eldest child.

"So talagang patuloy lang talaga ang pakikipaglaban at patuloy lang talagang pagmamatiyag. Pero isinasaalang-alang na lang natin ito sa korte at sana, sana ay makamit natin ang hustisya."

In an amended decision dated Nov. 28, the appellate court reversed its January 2018 ruling which had junked the murder case against Reyes.

The court found that the Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court Branch 52 was correct in refusing to suspend the proceedings and in standing by the arrest warrant it issued against Reyes.

Reyes was charged with murder along with his brother, former Coron town mayor Mario Reyes, and 8 others in Ortega's death.

The broadcaster, a known critic of Reyes, was gunned down in front of a thrift store in Puerto Princesa on Jan. 24, 2011.

"Kami bilang pamilya ay talagang nag-aantay lamang na magawan ng paraan itong sa Court of Appeals. Then 'yun nga, gobyerno mismo, ang pamahalaan mismo, ang gumawa ng paraan," Michaella said.

The proceedings on Ortega's murder case will continue next year.

Meanwhile, Reyes' camp told ABS-CBN News it was dismayed with the ruling.

"Na-detain naman siya sa loob sa Camp Bagong Diwa, ang daming petitions na isinumite sa korte na hindi inaaksyonan," said Rolando Bonoan, Reyes' close friend.

"Even 'yung pag-schedule lang ng bail petition halos ayaw aksyunan. In fact ngayon, marami pang petition noong mga naunang taon pa na nareresolba hanggang sa ngayon."

Bonoan said Associate Justice Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob, who was one of those who penned the latest ruling, shouldn't have been part of the decision panel since she wrote a dissent opinion on the 2018 ruling that freed Reyes.

The former governor, Bonoan said, is ready to face the case and his camp will file for a motion for reconsideration. They said they are hoping to get a true and fair decision in the proceedings.

"We firmly believe that the former governor is innocent, that he was framed up dito sa kasong ito. Kaya itong pagbibigay ng pagkakataon na muling malitis ang kasong ito baka sakaling magbigay din ng oportunidad na lumabas ang totoong mastermind sa kasong ito," Bonoan said. — With a report from Lynette dela Cruz, ABS-CBN News