The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) welcome the arrest of two former Philippines politicians in relation to the murder of journalist Gerry Ortega on Sunday September 20 in Phuket, Thailand. The IFJ and NUJP call on Philippines authorities to ensure the alleged masterminds involved in Ortgea’s killing are brought to justice.
Joel Reyes, a former governor of Palawan province, and Mario Reyes, a former municipal mayor of the same province, were arrested in Phuket for overstaying their visas and entering the country illegally. Major General Akradej, commander of Thailand’s Crime Suppression Divison said the pair will be prosecuted under Thailand’s Immigration Act before being deported to the Philippines.
Following Ortega’s murder in Puerto Princess in Palawan in January 2011, Marlon Recamata, the gunman, was arrested. During his trial, in which he pleaded guilty to the crime and he was sentenced to life, he said that the Reyes brothers had ordered Ortega to be killed in retaliation for the journalist’s critical reporting of local mining operations and allegations that then-Govenor Joel Reyes had received revenues from a gas field.
After the Reyes brothers had been named as suspects in the murder, the Philippines judicial system stalled. In April 2013, the Department of Justice issued arrest warrants for the brothers, but these were blocked by an appeallate court. As the department appealed the ruling, the Reyes brothers fled the Philippines.
The IFJ said: “While it remains unclear what will happen upon the Reyes’ brothers return to the Philippines, we demand swift and decisive action. In the many cases where journalists have been murdered, the Department of Justice and the Philippines Government must ensure that not only the gunman is brought to justice, but also the masterminds who ordered and paid for the kiulling. The manner in which the Reyes brothers have evaded the law and justice is symptomatic of the repeated failure of the Philippines judicial system to end the culture of impunity that runs rife throughout the country.”
Read the IFJ blog, by NUJP secretary general, Rupert Di Mangilit, which discusses Gerry Ortega’s case.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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