Resolve Doc Gerry murder, now!

January 27, 2012 Press Statement of NPC President Jerry S. Yap

Resolve Doc Gerry murder, now!

            A year has passed since the heinous act of murdering broadcaster Dr. Gerry “Doc Gerry” Ortega but the case against the suspected brains remains unresolved.

            By the rate and quality the DOJ performs its job the National Press Club sees more delays that will exceedingly disgust the conscience of the Liberty of the Press, of the journalists, of the people of Palawan, of the family of the victim, and of justice.

            Already, the number of the press men killed has risen to 12 under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.   

The last of those murdered, broadcaster and Tatak Bigtime News publisher Christopher Guarin, was killed in General Santos City last January 5 or 44 days after another journalist, Alfredo “Dodong” Velarde Jr of Brigada News Philippines, was slain on November 11 in the same city.

            What is good in Doc Gerry’s case is that the gunman was arrested immediately after the shooting incident for it accidentally happened that the fireman driving a firetruck was passing by an “ukay-ukay” store in Puerto Princesa City where the killing occurred on January 24, 2011.  But what is bad is the same as in all other cases of slaying: the brains have remained unpunished and unidentified.

            Last June, the National Press Club expressed strong dissent about the resolution rendered by a panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) where it absolved big suspects in the persons of former govorners Joel T. Reyes of Palawan and Jose Antonio Carreon of Marinduque, of former Palawan administrator Romeo Serratubias, and of Mayor Mario Reyes of the town of Coron in Palawan.

            In the press statement released by the NPC on June 15, 2011, it expressed its sentiment that the DOJ panel arrogated unto itself the discretion that belongs to the court—the reason killing of journalists never sleeps.

The DOJ unreasonably absolved the suspected brains despite the fact they were positively identified by the persons who confessed to have arranged for the killing: Rodolfo Edrad Jr. alias “Jun Bomar” who was the close aide of ex-governor Carreon, Armando Noel, Dennis Aranas and Arwin Arandia.
The confession was not admitted by the DOJ as a justification to charge the brains as principals by inducement, insisting there was no other evidence of conspiracy other than the confession of Bumar.
The Club pointed out that the job of the DOJ is only to determine whether there is sufficient probability that the ex-governors and others are likely the masterminds behind the murder of radioman Doctor Jerry Ortega last January 24 in Puerto Princesa City.
It is the job of the court to determine in the full-blown trial whether the confessions can be accepted or not or whether there are evidence that are independent of the confessions to prove first conspiracy.
The NPC insisted then that in determining probability or “probable cause” in legal parlance, the DOJ has no power to absolve. Its power is only to say whether there is sufficient probability to warrant a sacrifice of the presumption of innocence of those being charged to ensure that those charged are not unduly prejudiced by the warrant, detention, trial, and attorney’s fees.
The DOJ panel that absolved the respondents was composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog, Assistant State Prosecutor Bryan Jacinto Cacha and Atty. John Benedict Medina.
The evidence presented by the police investigators to the National Press Club are sufficient to say that the suspected brains are likely guilty.
First, there is this extrajudicial confession of Rodolfo “Jun Bomar” Edrad Jr. as the aide of the former Marinduque governor.
Edrad confessed he was asked by ex-governor Reyes and ex-governor Carreon to plot the murder of Ortega by using hired guns from Quezon province because using triggermen known in Palawan is risky to discovery.
Edrad said he took in Armando Noel, Dennis Aranas, Arwin Arandia and the gunman identified as Marlon Recamata Dichaves.
He also said he procured a gun right in Puerto Princesa because it was too risky to bring a gun on the plane to the city.
Edrad said he contacted Arturo Regalado and Percival Lecias who were close aides of former governor Reyes to procure for him a gun.
Second, there is also this testimony of Regalado that said he was contacted to by Edrad to procure the gun and that he secured the gun from Atty. Serratubias and this testimony is an evidence of conspiracy separate or independent from the testimony of Edrad.
Regalado said Edrad sent him money for the buying of the gun through a remittance agency and there are receipts showing the remittances to buy gun and “for the boys.”
Third, there is this defense of Serratubias that the gun was his but that it was bought from him. To prove the fact of sale, Serratubias presented a yellow paper showing it is an acknowledgment receipt of payment for the gun.
Serratubias did not present any notarized deed of absolute sale of the gun that was licensed to him.
The yellow paper receipt, the admission that the gun belonged to him and the lack of notarized deed of absolute sale are all separate and independent pieces of evidence of involvement of Serratubias in the conspiracy to kill Ortega.
This is because it is unthinkable that a lawyer will not secure a sale with a deed of absolute sale that is notarized.
The fact that Serratubias was too close to ex-governor Reyes because the lawyer was Reyes’ provincial administrator during his terms as governor of Palawan also constitutes a separate piece of evidence proving him as the “missing link” between Edrad and Reyes.
The evidence of closeness is a separate evidence of conspiracy.
Fourth, there is also this proof showing the two ex-governors are close buddies in business and leisure.
Carreon is the contractor of all Palawan projects funded by funds out of Malampaya natural gas operations.
He and Reyes are often seen in casinos as buddies.
The projects are distributed to all towns of Palawan, including the reclamation port area of the town of Coron where Mario Reyes is the incumbent third-termer mayor.
Fifth, there is also this proof consisting of a CCTV video footage taken a couple of days before the shooting of Ortega occurred.
This video shows Dichavez waiting for the arrival of Ortega for three hours, shows him making six attempts to cross the road and finally crossing over the street where the “ukay-ukay” store was because Ortega went inside that store to buy clothes immediately after arriving from his morning radio program, and shows Dichavez emerging out of the “ukay-ukay” store and running on the road away from the crime scene, shows the passing fire truck making a chase for Dichavez.
This video footage makes up for the proof that there was no reasonable doubt that Dichavez was the one who actually shot Ortega dead.
Sixth, there is also this proof that the fireman who was driving the firetruck saw Dichavez throwing the gun on a garbage container and that the fireman recovered the gun whose make and serial number point to Serratubias as the owner.
This is another independent piece of evidence showing the complicity of Serratubias to the conspiracy to murder Ortega.
For instance, it was unlikely that a gunman who was escaping would throw away the only weapon that he would use in defense, unless there was an earlier plan or plot to throw it away to avoid discovery that it belonged to Serratubias.
Seventh, the proof that Dichavez came from a town in Quezon province where Edrad was a resident constitutes an independent proof to support the theory of the close connection between them and the others.
Eighth, the proof that Dichavez, Noel, Aranas and Arandia were together in going to Puerto Princesa as shown by a CCTV video focusing on the exit gate of the Puerto Princesa International Airport.
This constitutes a distinct and separate evidence of conspiracy among them.
Ninth, the broadcasts of Ortega show that the main subject of his criticisms is ex-governor Reyes on the mining permits issued with the intercession of the provincial government and on the funds shared to Palawan out of the revenue from the utilization of Malampaya natural gas field.
This is a separate piece of evidence of motive of hate by the ex-governor against Ortega.
Tenth, other evidence separate and distinct from the extrajudicial confession of Edrad were also presented.
A look at these pieces of evidence, the NPC strongly insists that the DOJ is wrong in absolving the suspected brains.
Specifically, it erred in stating that aside from the extrajudicial confession there was no other piece of evidence separate and distinct to prove “sufficient probability” that ex-governors Reyes and Carreon and Atty. Serratubias were the brains behind the murder of Ortega.
To repeat, the issue here is only probability, not proof of reasonable doubt.
So that the prudent thing to do should be to approve the indictment of the ex-governors and the lawyer and let the full-blown trial begin and let the Court decide.
There could have been no suspicion if those who were placed as investigators are the people’s representatives acting as an inquest jury under the Grand Jury System.
The system of prosecutors being the one deciding who should be accused has long been abused using “probable cause” in the manner they wished.
As proven by the performances of the prosecutors deciding who should be charged, the acts of killing journalists will never stop.
This is the reason that the NPC is supporting the proposal to establish the jury system in place of the present rotten mechanism abused for more than a century by lords of politics, drugs, sex and gambling.
RESOLVE NOW the motion for reconsideration filed by the family of Doc Gerry.
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