The government’s key witness in the 2011 Gerry Ortega murder case on Wednesday filed attempted murder charges against two persons he claimed were acting at the behest of former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes, the accused mastermind in the high profile journalist slaying case.
Rodolfo Edrad Jr., a former security aide of Reyes who had turned state witness after surrendering and confessing to having organized the assassination of the Palawan radio broadcaster and environmentalist, had accused a certain Ronald Padernal and Johnrey Pacheco of being behind the strafing incident at his residence in Pagbilao, Quezon last August 25.
In his complaint affidavit, Edrad claimed that Padernal offered to bribe him in exchange for recanting his previous statements implicating Reyes as the mastermind behind the Ortega murder.
“Noong ika-8 ng Agosto, nilapitan ako upang pakiusapan na baliktarin ang aking testimonya laban kay Gov. Reyes. Tinanggihan ko ang kanyang alok dahil gusto kong panindigan ang katotohanan sa pagpatay kay Doc Gerry at para na rin makatulong sa kanyang pamilya,” Edrad stated in his sworn affidavit.
He claimed that after turning down the bribe offer, Padernal got angry at him and threatened him that he will regret his decision.
A Pagbiliao police report on the strafing incident noted that Edrad’s house was shot at by unidentified men, with 29 pieces of fired cartridges of 5.56 mm recovered from the scene, and one fired bullet and one metal fragment from an M16 Armalite Rifle.
Edrad, who remains under the witness protection program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ), also claimed that Reyes has privately put up a P2 million bounty in his head in an effort to “silence him”.
Reyes was exonerated by the Court of Appeals in January 2018, but he continued to be detained because of a separate conviction from a graft case that earned him a 6-year imprisonment term and perpetual disqualification from public office.
A year later, however, a different branch of the appellate court reversed its earlier ruling, prompting the Palawan Regional Trial Court to resume Reyes’ earlier suspended trial. An arrest warrant had been issued by the RTC judge handling the case against Reyes.
Reyes has not gone public since his reported release from detention after having served his graft sentence. His spokesman, Rolando Bonoan, earlier this week stated that Reyes was planning to run again for governor in next year’s local polls.
Edrad claimed he has been getting pressure to retract his statement against Reyes.
“Sa muling pagkabuhay ng kaso laban kay Gov. Reyes, alam kong hindi siya titigil upang mapagtakpan ang katotohanan sa pagpatay kay Doc Gerry. Alam ko ang kakayahan niyang magpapatay ng tao tulad ng ginawa niya kay Doc Gerry at hindi Malabo na ito ay mangyari din sa akin,” Edrad said.
Edrad, was the self-confessed middleman in the Ortega slay who was “tasked to form a hired killer group” in the murder of Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega in 2011.
In 2012, the Palawan court excluded Edrad from the accused as he became a state witness to the murder case.
Reaction to Edrad’s complaint, Bonoan dismissed the complaint as a “scripted drama” to either extort money or block Reyes’ latest plans to run again for governor in the coming elections.
“We do not know these two people na sinasabi nya and hindi nga natin alam kung nakatungtong yan sa Palawan o hindi,” he said.
Bonoan also dismissed Edrad’s testimony linking Reyes to the murder case as “mere hearsay”.
“Malinaw naman doon sa complaint ni Rodolfo Edrad, alias Bumar, na hindi naman si Governor Joel T. Reyes ang kanyang kinakasuhan ng attempted murder ngunit pilit nilang ikinokonekta yong istorya ng Doc Gerry murder dito sa attempted murder sa kanya. I believe that this is just a product of purely imagination,” he said.