The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) marks today’s 13th death anniversary of Dr. Gerry Ortega, a broadcast journalist from Palawan murdered in 2011, with deep concern over the latest development in the trial of the suspected mastermind in his case – former Palawan governor Joel Reyes.
NUJP laments a decision handed down by the Supreme Court granting Reyes’ petition to transfer the ongoing trial of the case from Palawan to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
We note with utmost concern the decision of the High Court, penned on 4 December 2023 but only recently released, granting Reyes’s motion.
We were surprised that this was done even as the latter remains in hiding, refusing to submit to the jurisdiction of the court where he was being tried.
We strongly believe that there is no justifiable reason to transfer the case, and doing so will only prolong the trial that is already proceeding in earnest at the Palawan Regional Trial Court.
We ask the Office of the Solicitor General to appeal this latest Supreme Court decision so that the case may continue to be heard at the Palawan Regional Trial Court in the interest of a fair and speedy trial.
Each year that passes that the victim’s family is denied justice pushes the brazen killing further from memory and makes closure to the case seem even more distant.
As we join Doc Gerry’s family, friends and the press community of Palawan in reiterating the call for justice, we urge the public to help demand an end to the culture of impunity on attacks against media workers.
We call on Special Rapporteur Irene Khan to acknowledge the impunity with regard to the killings of journalists and push for recommendations that would exact accountability.
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