MANILA, Philippines - A close-in aide of fugitive former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, also tagged in the killing of radio broadcaster Gerry Ortega in Puerto Princesa City on Jan. 24 last year, surrendered to authorities yesterday.
Arturo Regalado, one of the five accused in the Ortega murder, gave himself up to Puerto Prin-cesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn, according to Ortega’s eldest daughter Mika.
Regalado allegedly set up the hit job and gave the firearm to the guns-for-hire.
The Ortega family welcomed the development. “One down, three to go,” Mika said in a text message.
Charged along with Reyes and Regalado with murder before the Puerto Princesa City regional trial court are Coron Mayor Mario Reyes Jr., a brother of the former governor; former Palawan provincial administrator Romeo Serratubias; and Valentin Lecias.
The Reyes brothers and Lecias remain at large. Seratubias was arrested on March 28.
Four other accused – Rodolfo Edrad Jr., Armando Noel Jr., Dennis Aranas, and Arwin Arandia – were earlier indicted and are now in detention.
Last month, the DOJ ordered the indictment of Reyes and his four fellow accused following a reinvestigation by a second panel of state pro-secutors into a complaint filed by Ortega’s widow Patria Gloria.
The DOJ panel junked Reyes’ denial and upheld the testimony of Edrad, who had tagged the former governor as the mastermind.
The investigating fiscals cited the admission of the Reyes brothers in their counter-affidavits that Edrad went to Mayor Reyes’ house in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City to receive money.
This admission, they said, weakened the Reyeses’ denial of close association with the gunman who had turned witness for Mrs. Ortega.
Edrad, in his earlier affidavit, confessed hiring gunman Marlon Recamata and other men, saying that Mayor Reyes, allegedly upon the instructions of the former governor, gave him P500,000 as reward for the hit job. The Reyes brothers admitted paying the gunman but only for P5,000. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe - By Edu Punay