'Impunity doesn't need authoritarian rule, only govt turning a blind eye' - Ortega daughter
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines -- The eldest daughter of murdered Palawan broadcaster Gerardo Ortega on Monday asked that the case against her father’s killers “be heard fairly and honestly in the court of law” and called on the Court of Appeals to junk a petition by alleged masterminds, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother Mario, mayor of Coron town, to dismiss the charges against them.
“Impunity does not need an authoritarian rule in order to reign,” Michaella Ortega said, referring to the 14-year dictatorship that began when the late President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law 40 years ago.
“All it requires is for people of government to turn a blind eye,” she said. “All it takes now is for the CA to overlook the outright insolence of the Reyes brothers, who evaded arrest and consistently showed disregard for our laws and our courts.”
The Reyes brothers reportedly fled the country for Vietnam in March, days before a Palawan trial court issued a warrant for their arrest. The former governor also allegedly used a fake passport.
“If the brothers are granted the relief they aspire for, what then separates our leaders and our courts from those who allowed for mass murder during Martial Law?” Michaella asked. “If even those faced with overwhelming evidence of preventing murder are set free without so much as a trial, are we not encouraging more murders? And in effect, are we not party to these murders?”
She spoke at a picket in front of the CA that was spearheaded by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and attended by media and other groups and supporters.
Michaella said the commemoration of the 40rth year since the declaration of Martial Law was an opportunity to remember when “impunity was at its height, and remember why it must never reign again.”
She also recalled how her father was part of the uprising that ousted the dictator, placing his hands against a tank and thinking he would die.
“Perhaps the only difference is that my father was not murdered under a despotic rule,” she said in a speech. “He was killed during a time of supposed peace, during a time of democracy.”
Mika Ortega, daughter of slain journalist Gerry Ortega, appeals to the Court of Appeals to junk the bid of the alleged masterminds, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother Mario, mayor of Coron, to dismiss the charges against them.
Even in democracy, impunity reigns
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines secretary-general Rowena Paraan said since the fall of Marcos in 1986, 153 journalists have been murdered, 13 of them under President Benigno Aquino III’s administration. No mastermind behind any of these murders has been convicted.
Paraan said the Ortega murder is one of the rare cases in which the chances of actually convicting the accused masterminds are high as she stressed that the rule of law must prevail and the suspects must undergo trial.
Director Bonifacio Ilagan, who chairs the First Quarter Storm Movement, said the slow pace of justice in the Ortega case showed that, “40 years have passed since Martial Law, yet everything that happened before continue to happen today.”
While calling on the judiciary to give justice to victims of media killings, CEGP national deputy secretary general Marc Lino Abila also demanded the same justice for other victims of extrajudicial killings -- laborers, farmers, and students alike.
View more details on the killing of Gerry Ortega here (http://www.interaksyon.com/thegerryortegamurder-oneyearlater).