26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 433-0184; E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net Website: www.kalikasan.net

22 September 2015

Green groups hail arrest of Gerry Ortega murder masterminds, challenge authorities to hasten all cases of environmentalist killings

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) hailed the arrest of former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother ex-Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, who were the suspected masterminds of the murder of Palawan broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega.

“The capture of the Reyes brothers is a welcome development that brings us a step closer to claiming justice for the murder of our dear comrade in the environmental movement, Dr. Gerry Ortega. We challenge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to hasten the prosecution and ensure the jailing not only of the murderers of Dr. Ortega, but of all outstanding cases of killings towards environmental activists. We hope the arrest of the Reyes brothers does not end up as just a publicity stunt and serve to set the tone for the other outstanding cases,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

The Task Force – Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED), a support network for families of environmental activists that been killed or afflicted by other human rights violations, has recorded 86 cases of political killings towards environmentalists since 2001, 50 of which happened under the present administration of Pres. Noynoy Aquino.

“Beyond this nominal victory in the Ortega case, the only other case that was ‘resolved’ was the killing of municipal councilor Armin Marin in Sibuyan Town, Romblon, who was shot by private chief security officer of the SNPDC mining company in the province. Marin’s killer, security officer Mario Kingo, was acquitted from murder charges and was instead found guilty with criminal negligence and reckless imprudence. Our justice system’s track record runs at a snail’s pace, but our efforts to demand justice for all victims under this culture of impunity will persist regardless,” said Bautista.

The environmental network said their various allied organizations will continue to raise attention over outstanding cases of killings and other human rights violations towards environmental advocates. Recently, the Free Kim Gargar Campaign and the Justice for Leonard Co Movement held a dialogue with the DOJ demanding to speed up the resolution of outstanding cases regarding the killing of ethno-botanist Leonard Co, and the illegal detention and harassment charges filed against field physicist Kim Gargar.#

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net