MANILA, Philippines – The family of slain broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega was shocked after a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling led to the release of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, one of the suspects in his murder.
“Our family is still recovering from the shock of yesterday’s CA decision ordering the release of former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, the known mastermind in the murder of radio broadcaster, environmentalist, and anti-corruption advocate Dr Gerry Ortega,” said the Ortega family in a statement on Saturday, January 6.
The family said they have not received a copy of the CA decision yet. (READ: TIMELINE: Gerry Ortega murder case)
“We will need time with our lawyers to study it and plan our next move. Until then, we ask everyone to remain vigilant,” said the Ortega family.
Reyes was freed from jail after the CA ruled that the Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court had no basis to hold him for trial over Ortega’s murder.
The latest CA ruling did not clear Reyes of murder charges, but nullified the finding of probable cause and the issuance of an arrest warrant by the local court.
They added the CA decision came just a few weeks before the 7th anniversary of the death of Ortega, who was shot in the head at point-blank range in 2011
Ortega was a prominent Palawan environmentalist who had used a radio show he hosted to accuse Reyes and his brother, former Coron mayor Mario Reyes, of massive graft.
The Reyes brothers’ alleged misuse of Palawan funds was later identified as part of the Malampaya fund scam.
The brothers were arrested in Thailand in 2015 after 3 years in hiding.