Media group says justice remains elusive for slain broadcaster after 11 years

January 25, 2022

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines marked the 11th death anniversary of broadcaster and environmental activist Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega with a call to arrest and jail the alleged mastermind of the killing.

“The case of [Ortega] is emblematic of the culture of impunity in the country,” said the group in a statement. “It reminds us how the powerful seem to make a mockery out of our justice system,” it added.

On January 24, 2011, Ortega was shot to the head at point-blank range at a thrift store in Puerto Princesa City in the province of Palawan. He was a prominent environmental activist who exposed the alleged misuse of gas field funds.

On the same day, the alleged gunman, Marlon Dichavez Recamata, was apprehended. He admitted to the killing and said that his group was hired by the former close-in security of former Governor Joel Reyes of Palawan.

Although convicted for graft and with an arrest warrant for murder, the former governor remains free and has filed a certificate of candidacy to regain his old post in the coming elections.

“The lack of justice over [Ortega’s] murder and Reyes’ bid for the governorship despite a graft conviction adds to the impunity that has surrounded attacks against journalists as well as land and rights defenders,” said the media union.

The media organization called on voters “to junk candidates who violated press freedom” and challenged candidates in the May 2022 elections “to respect and uphold the people’s right to access relevant and timely information as well as their right to criticize government policies and practices.”

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