Authorities tipped off about possible hideout of ex-Palawan official in journalist’s murder case

A coalition supporting press freedom has provided information to Philippine authorities regarding the location of former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes, who is linked to the 2011 assassination of radio broadcaster Gerry Ortega. The coalition, named “A Safer World for the Truth,” includes Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). They met with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Manila, urging the arrest of Reyes.

During the discussions, the coalition shared information on Reyes’ hiding place. DOJ Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV vowed swift action, and PNP Chief Benjamin Acorda Jr. committed to implementing the arrest warrant against Reyes, according to RSF.

“The information provides all the keys to finding and arresting Reyes. It is now their (DOJ and PNP) responsibility to immediately arrest the former governor and bring justice to the journalist’s relatives, 13 years after this shocking crime,” said RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director Cédric Alviani.

The NGO coalition, operational since 2020, identified deficiencies in the judicial procedures related to Ortega’s murder. Alviani voiced concern during meetings with Philippine officials about Reyes trying to move the trial to the Quezon City Regional Court, potentially delaying the process.

He lamented that numerous legal rulings have prolonged the case, leaving Ortega’s family without justice and exposing them and key witnesses to security risks.

Alviani, along with RSF Advocacy Officer Aleksandra Bielakowska and JTI Regional Officer Liangwei Huang, has met with various government organizations, including the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS), Philippines Information Agency (PIA), representatives from local media organizations, and members of the media and foreign correspondents.

They also organized a workshop introducing media outlets from Metro Manila to the Journalism Trust Initiative, a global project establishing international standards for journalistic best practices with the aim of rebuilding the public’s trust in the media.

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