The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) announced that the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) has offered a ₱100,000 reward for anyone who can provide solid information leading to the arrest of former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes. Reyes is facing charges for masterminding the murder of broadcaster Dr. Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega in 2011.

PTFoMS stated that the reward is being offered as the government vows continuous pursuit of justice for fallen members of the press.

PTFoMS Executive Director, Usec. Paul M. Gutierrez, mentioned that the reward money will come from PAOCC, headed by Usec. Gilbert Cruz.

“Since my assumption into office, the PAOCC has been a strong supporter of the PTFoMS’ activities. In the case of Doc Gerry, Usec. Cruz and I agreed that his killing has already dragged on far too long. Justice has been denied to him and his family far too long,” Gutierrez said.

He emphasized that Ortega’s murder and that of other journalists remain a priority of the Marcos administration through the PTFoMS.

Gutierrez stated that with the reward offer, he is confident that efforts to hunt down Reyes, which would lead to his subsequent arrest, will be bolstered.

The former governor went into hiding last year after the Supreme Court canceled his bail and ordered his re-arrest to face trial for the killing of Ortega.

The PTFoMS head also called on other civic-minded citizens and those advocating for justice to contribute to the reward.

“While any act of violence, especially murder, deserves condemnation, it is not enough. Let us all work together in proving that no one is above the law by raising the reward for the arrest of Reyes,” Gutierrez said.

The official also revealed that he met with the private counsels of the Ortega family last Monday, June 10, along with representatives from the office of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, to discuss the developments in the case.

Gutierrez noted that based on previous experiences, the offer of reward money incentivized people to step forward and provide information on the whereabouts of suspects, leading to their arrest.

Gutierrez was referring to the cases of Misamis Occidental radioman Juan “DJ Johnny Walker” Jumalon and Kidapawan broadcaster Eduardo “Ed” Dizon, where the public coordinated and eventually provided details on the gunmen’s whereabouts, resulting in their arrest.

Jumalon’s gunman, Julieto Mangumpit, also known as “Ricky,” was arrested on April 29, 2024, in Dipolog City, while Junell Jane Andagkit Poten, alias Junell Gerozaga, was nabbed on May 2, 2024, in Kidapawan City.

To demonstrate the government’s good faith, Gutierrez personally handed the reward money to the informants who were instrumental in the suspects’ arrest.

Gutierrez also appealed to Reyes to turn himself in and respect the country’s judicial process.

“As a former high official of the government, it is incumbent on Reyes to demonstrate his respect for the rule of law and our country’s judicial system. His continued hiding only strengthens the impression that he is guilty of the crime imputed on him,” he said

Ortega, a staunch critic of corruption in the province under Reyes, particularly on the alleged embezzlement of Palawan’s share in the Malampaya fund, was gunned down outside a local store in Puerto Princesa City on January 4, 2011. The investigation subsequently pointed to Reyes as the mastermind.

Reyes, along with his brother Mario, the mayor of Coron, fled the country in 2012 to evade arrest and was arrested in Thailand in 2015. However, they were able to post bail in 2018.

They attempted a return to politics, running for public office in the 2022 elections, where the elder lost as governor while his younger brother won as mayor of Coron town.

Last year, the Supreme Court ordered the re-arrest of Reyes and the continuation of the Ortega murder trial.