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Rights groups indignant over release of mastermind to broadcaster's murder

"Seven years of injustice to Ortega severed by release order to Reyes"

January 6, 2018

QUEZON CITY – "The seven long years of injustice to Dr. Gerry Ortega and his family is further severed by the release order of Palawan ex-governor Joel Reyes. The courts have become appendage to the culture of impunity in the country under Duterte."

Thus said rights group Hustisya as they expressed indignation on the release of Reyes Friday afternoon, just weeks before the seventh year of the killing of the broadcaster and environmental activist.

"We are saddened and enraged at the hasty release of Reyes. It took three years to arrest the Reyes brothers who went into hiding, and one day to simply junk all bases and evidences that point to them as the murderers of Ortega. We are one with the Ortega family in asking how has it come to this, wasting years that they have attained justice for the killing of Doc Gerry,” said Evangeline Hernandez, chairperson of Hustisya.

Hustisya said it is gearing for actions to continue demanding justice for Ortega and other victims of extrajudicial killings under previous regimes and under Duterte.

January 24 is the seventh year of the killing of Ortega.

Acquittal and release season?

The group also hit the Rodrigo Duterte regime in what they call an “open season for acquittals and releases of murderers and perpetrators.”

Citing the acquittal of Maj. Harry Baliaga, accused in the abduction of Jonas Burgos, and now Reyes, the group said, “Under Duterte, impunity is at its best in shattering any hope that rights violators will be brought to justice.”

“It is appalling that while thousands more demand justice for victims of killings and rights violations under previous regimes, the Duterte regime, in turn, is acquitting and releasing those in jail,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez explained that families of victims of killings want justice as much as the families of these few prominent cases, like that of Ortega.

“For us, they might not be the murderers of our children, spouses, or kin, but they represent the thousands of killings that have not reached as far as putting the perpetrators to jail. If such a case as Ortega’s or Burgos’ cannot attain justice, what more the poor Filipinos who fall victim to killings, to abductions, and other violations?” explained Hernandez.

The group appealed for support against the culture of impunity under the current regime.

“We call for public support in the cause against impunity. This is the injustice and impunity that we should fight together. We attain justice in not letting the perpetrators escape accountability and public clamor to make them pay for their crimes,” said Hernandez.

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