Ten years ago today in Puerto Princesa, journalist, environmentalist and good governance advocate Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega was shot dead by a gunman in an “ukay-ukay” store he visited after hosting his program “Ramatak” on radio station dwAR-FM.


In a rare instance in the history of media killings in the country, the gunman was almost immediately caught, followed quickly by other members of the hit team, all of whom named those who allegedly ordered the hit – former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother Mario, then the Coron mayor, as well as other accomplices.


While most of the suspects were tried and have since been convicted, the Reyes brothers fled the country in March 2012. They were arrested in Thailand in September 2015 and deported back to the Philippines.


Although Joel Reyes was ordered freed by the Court of Appeals on January 2018, he was arrested and locked up in Camp Bagong Diwa after his conviction for graft by the Sandiganbayan. In November 2019 the appellate court reversed the January 2018 decision and ordered the resumption of his murder trial.


Lest we forget, it took a decade for a verdict to be handed down on those accused of carrying out the November 23, 2009, Ampatuan massacre, which claimed the lives of 58 persons, 32 of them journalists. And even then, the legal process is far from over with appeals filed and scores of other suspects still at large.


It is a testament to their courage that neither the families of the massacre victims nor of Doc Gerry have wavered in their search for justice, despite the many dangers and obstacles placed in their way.


Yet by any standards, a decade without justice is clearly justice too long denied for Doc Gerry, his wife Patty, and their children.


We urge the trial court to take to heart the CA’s order “to conduct proceedings in criminal case No. 26839 with purposeful dispatch.”



National Directorate