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Authorities file charges against alleged gunman, four others for murder of Palawan broadcaster

(CMFR/IFEX) - The alleged gunman in the killing of a Palawan-based broadcaster faced inquest proceedings on 26 January 2011. The province of Palawan is located 592 kilometers south of Manila.

The Philippine National Police filed murder charges against Marlon Recamata (named in initial reports as Marvin Alcaraz) for the killing of Gerardo "Doc Gerry" Ortega. Ortega, a broadcaster with Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) dwAR, was in a thrift store on 24 January when the gunman shot him.

The police also filed murder charges against four other individuals in connection with Ortega's murder: former provincial administrator and lawyer Romeo Seratubias, Dennis Aranas, Armando Noel Loria and Rodolfo Edrad Jr. (also known as Jun-Jun Bomar).

Seratubias was an aide to former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, of whom Ortega had been critical on his radio programme, and was the original owner of the gun Recamata is alleged to have used in the killing. Seratubias denied still owning the gun, and told the Manila-based "Philippine Daily Inquirer" that he sold it to an individual named Percival Lesias on 15 January. "The Philippine Star" reported that an Arturo "Nonoy" Regalado bought the gun from Lesias.

Meanwhile, Recamata identified Loria and Edrad as the people who hired him and Aranas to kill Ortega for a fee of P150,000 (approx. US$3500). On 1 February, the "Inquirer" reported that Edrad, a former Marine officer, was a security aide for former Marinduque provincial governor Jose Antonio Carreon.

On 1 February, the "Inquirer" quoted Puerto Princesa City police chief Senior Superintendent Rolando Amurao as saying on 26 January that Edrad ordered Regalado to buy the gun. Regalado was allegedly also an aide to Reyes.

Ortega's family and colleagues believe his death is linked to his commentaries on local governance and environmental issues in the province. Ortega, who also worked with the ABS-CBN Foundations BayaniJuan project, had actively campaigned against mining in Palawan.

Ortega is the second journalist killed in the line of duty under the new Benigno Aquino III administration. One hundred nineteen journalists and media workers have been killed in the line of duty in the Philippines since 1986.

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