De Lima urged: Solve Palawan slay
Thousands of sympathizers of murdered journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega have signed a petition paper urging Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to expedite the prosecution of former Palawan Gov. Mario Joel Reyes, his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes who have been accused of masterminding the crime.
Accompanied by running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, the Ortega family went to the Department of Justice in Manila on Friday to submit the petition paper to the Office of the Justice Secretary.
The number of signatories to the petition rose to at least 30,000, and more than double the number that Fr. Reyes earlier promised to collect appealing to De Lima to bring justice to the family of Ortega who was gunned down on Jan. 24, 2011.
Ortega was a vocal critic of local officials for their alleged misuse of funds derived from the operation of the Malampaya gas field in Palawan.
In a statement, Patty Ortega, wife of the victim, pointed out that it has been five years since the killing but until now authorities have yet to determine the whereabouts of the Reyes brothers.
The two accused have reportedly left the country following the filing of murder charges against them before the DoJ.
Patty also lamented that its pending petition for review seeking the reversal of the resolution issued by the first panel of prosecutors in 2011 that junked the murder charges against the Reyes brothers has remained unacted upon by De Lima.
The Ortega family is asking De Lima to resolve its pending petition for review before she steps down from office and seek a senatorial post in next year’s election.
“Batid po namin na sa mga araw na darating ay magbibitiw na sa kanyang tungkulin bilang kalihim si Secretary Leila de Lima upang maghanda para sa kanyang pagtakbo bilang senador. Nais po naming hilingin kay Secretary De Lima na bago man lamang siya magbitiw ay resolbahin na niya ang aming nakabimbing Petition for Review sa resulta ng preliminary investigation ng unang DoJ panel na nagimbistiga sa kaso, “ the statement read.
Patty added that her family remains hopeful that De Lima would keep her promise to be fair in resolving the case despite that the ex-governor was her former client during her stint as an election lawyer.
The Court of Appeals issued a ruling in October 2014 directing De Lima to resolve the petition for review filed by the Ortega family.
It junked the petition filed by the former Palawan governor seeking to prohibit the Office of the Secretary of Justice from conducting further proceedings in a preliminary investigation in connection with the case.
Reyes wanted De Lima to inhibit from resolving the petition for review following her statement alleging that his camp employed “foul tactics and illicit means” in order to get a favorable decision from the appellate court.
He also cited De Lima’s statement saying that her office “is readying a contingency plan-resolution” of the pending petition for review of the Ortega family following the CA’s ruling which nullified the creation of a second panel of prosecutors and its subsequent finding of probable cause to hold him liable for murder.
In October 2013, the CA declared final its March 19, 2013 decision that cleared the former governor of murder charges in connection with the killing of Ortega.
The CA’s March 19, 2013 decision reinstated an earlier resolution issued by the first panel of prosecutors of the DOJ that cleared the Reyes brothers, and four others of the murder charges for insufficiency of evidence.
Mayor Reyes had also been cleared by another division of the CA. He had challenged de Lima’s order that created a second panel of investigators, which reversed the findings of the first panel.
In the case of former governor Reyes, the CA had ruled that instead of creating a second panel of investigators, De Lima should have reviewed the case herself.