PHILIPPINES: The Case of Environmentalist-journalist Gerry Ortega’s Murder Gets Hotter

Two separate bombs hit the Palawan province on Holy Thursday, injuring 3 people but causing no fatalities. The blasts targeted a bus station and a resort, both popular tourist destinations.

The two blasts were set off 10 minutes apart and appear to be related in a complicated way to the death of journalist some time ago. As no shrapnel or sharp objects were found in the bombs, it is assumed that they were meant more to alarm than to harm, according to Department of Local and Interior Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo. The police released a statement ruling out Islamic terrorism and pointed rather to local politics as a more likely cause.

Speculation that the blasts are linked to the manhunt for ex-governor Joel Reyes grows as one of the arrested suspects appears to have connections to him. Identified as Hassan, the suspect is a municipal employee of Reyes’ wife, current Palawan Vice Governor Clara Reyes. A threatening text message sent to the bus company involved in the blasts was traced to Hassan. The man was also a former member of MNLF, a Muslim guerrilla group who fought for a separate Islamic homeland in southern Philippines during the 1970’s. It is now being determined whether Hassan had any bomb-making capabilities.

Palawan ex-governor Joel Reyes became a fugitive after evading arrest in connection to environmentalist-journalist Gerry Ortega’s murder.

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