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Former Palawan governor, 4 others face murder raps for Ortega killing

March 13, 2012 2:26pm

Tags: Palawan
(Updated 3:27 p.m.) The Department of Justice on Tuesday reversed its previous decision and ordered the filing of murder charges against former Palawan  Governor Joel Reyes and four others for the killing of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega.
Also ordered charged were former Palawan administrator Romeo Serratubias, Reyes’ brother and incumbent Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, and provincial government employees Arturo Regalado and Percival Lecias.

Only Marinduque Gov. Jose Antonio Carreon was spared from the charges due to insufficiency of evidence.
"After the reinvestigation and evaluation of the evidence adduced by both parties, the new panel arrived at the conclusion that the additional evidence offered by the complainant are relevant in appreciating other pieces of evidence previously submitted by the parties during the first preliminary investigation and that such additional evidence are sufficient to modify the initial findings of the previous panel,” the DOJ said.
The murder case was ordered to be filed in the Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.
The 28-page resolution was approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano. The panel consists of Assistant State Prosecutor Stewart Allan Mariano, Assistant State Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano, and Associate Prosecution Attorney Gerard Gaerlan.
Ortega, 47, was gunned down in Puerto Princesa in January last year. He was the main news anchor and commentator of Radyo Mo Nationwide's (RMN)'s Palawan station dwAR. The gunman was immediately arrested after the killing.
From the start, Ortega's wife Patria has said Reyes may have ordered the killing because of the victim's anti-mining advocacy. Reyes has repeatedly denied the charges.

Edrad confession not admissible
In a June 8, 2011 ruling, the Justice department dropped the murder charges against Reyes and the four others after noting that evidence and testimonies available at that time were not enough to indict them.
In an extra-judicial confession, Rodolfo Edrad Jr. had earlier tagged Reyes as the mastermind in the Ortega killing.
But the panel said that without independent pieces of evidence to support it, the extra-judicial confession was not admissible in court.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered a reinvestigation of the case after the victim's widow submitted additional evidence to support her claim. — VS, GMA News
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Tags: Palawan

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