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P100k reward offered for capture of Palawan ex-Gov

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IN its continuing pursuit for justice for fallen members of the press, a P100,000 reward is being offered by the government for anyone who can provide solid information leading to the arrest of former Palawan governor, Joel Reyes, the identified mastermind in the 2019 murder of Puerto Princesa City broadcast journalist, Gerardo Valeriano ‘Doc Gerry’ Ortega.

Usec. Paul M. Gutierrez, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), said the reward money would come from the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) under Usec. Gilbert Cruz.

“Since my assumption into office, the PAOCC has been a strong supporter of the PTFoMS’ activities. In the case of Doc Gerry, Usec. Cruz and I agreed that his killing has already dragged on far too long. Justice has been denied to him and his family far too long,” Gutierrez said.

He stressed that the murder of Ortega and other slain journalists, remain a priority of the Marcos administration thru the PTFoMS.

With the reward offer, Gutierrez expressed confidence it will bolster the efforts in the manhunt and subsequent arrest of Reyes, who has been in hiding since last year after the Supreme Court cancelled his bail and ordered him re-arrested to face trial for the killing of Ortega.

The PTFoMS head also called on other civic-minded citizens and those advocating for justice to put their money where their mouth is by contributing to the reward.

“While any act of violence, especially murder, deserves condemnation, it is not enough. Let us all work together in proving that no one is above the law by raising the reward for the arrest of Reyes,” Gutierrez said.

The official also bared that last June 10, 2024, he met with the private counsels of the Ortega family, together with representatives from the office of Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary, Jesus Crispin Remulla, to discuss the developments in the case.

Based on experience, Gutierrez noted that the offer of reward money incentivized people to step forward and give information to the whereabouts of suspects leading to their arrest.

Gutierrez was referring to the cases of Misamis Occidental radioman Juan “DJ Johnny Walker” Jumalon and, Kidapawan broadcaster Eduardo “Ed” Dizon, where the public coordinated and eventually provided details on the whereabouts of the gunmen in these killings that led to their arrest.

Jumalon’s gunman Julieto Mangumpit, also known as “Ricky,” was arrested last April 29, 2024 in Dipolog City, while Junell Jane Andagkit Poten, alias Junell Gerozaga was nabbed last May 2, 2024 in Kidapawan City.

To demonstrate the government’s good faith, Gutierrez personally handed the reward money to the informants who were instrumental to the arrest of the suspects.

Gutierrez also appealed to Reye to turn himself in and respect the country’s judicial process.

“As a former high official of the government, it is incumbent on Reyes to demonstrate his respect for the rule of law and our country’s judicial system. His continued hiding only strengthens the impression that he is guilty of the crime imputed on him.”

Ortega, a staunch critic of the corruption in the province under Reyes, particularly on the alleged embezzlement of Palawan’s share in the Malampaya fund, was gunned down outside a local store in Puerto Princesa City last January 4, 2011. The investigation subsequently pointed to Reyes as the mastermind.

Reyes, along with his brother, Mario, the mayor of Coron, fled the country in 2012 to evade arrest but was arrested in Thailand in 2015.

Both somehow managed to get themselves freed on bail in 2018 and both ran for public office in the 2022 elections where Reyes lost as governor.

Last year, the Supreme Court ordered the re-arrest of Reyes and the continuation of the Ortega murder trial.

Early this year, it was announced that the Supreme Court Second Division granted Reyes’ motion to transfer the venue of the trial at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

On the other hand, the camp of Ortega filed a motion for reconsideration opposing the transfer of venue.

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