Conduct Unbecoming? WSC Competitor Baham Mitra (Part 2)


Conduct Unbecoming? Or just false accusation?

Related Palawan facebook pages:

  1. Malampaya Fund Misuse
  2. Bawal Movement
  3. Justice for Dr. Gerry Ortega

– Gameness til the End

Mitra backs alleged mastermind in Ortega murder

By Redempto Anda
Inquirer Southern Luzon
10:20 pm | Thursday, March 15th, 2012

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Palawan Gov. Abraham Mitra mobilized employees of the provincial capitol to support ex-governor Joel T. Reyes, who was recommended charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for masterminding the murder of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

Elsewhere in the province, however, calls were made for Reyes to face the charge against him.

Mitra, a close ally of Reyes, ordered a series of morning Masses at the capitol and asked employees to attend while wearing Reyes’ yellow campaign color.

At least 50 capitol employees attended Mass which Mitra briefly addressed while avoiding lengthy discussion on Reyes’ case.

“This is to express support to the former governor and his family,” Mitra said, adding he would not abandon Reyes “as a friend.”

He also described the indictment of Reyes by the Department of Justice as part of “political harassment” by his administration’s opponents. He cited the recent recall initiative filed by his opponents as part of these efforts.

A midlevel capitol official who asked not to named admitted receiving an instruction calling all employees to attend the support activities for Reyes.

“I don’t want to be drawn into this which has nothing to do with us as employees,” the official told Inquirer.

An opposition board member, Gil Acosta, urged Reyes to submit himself to trial to pave the way for the resolution of the case. “This is the only way he can prove himself if he is innocent,” Acosta said.

Reyes’ defense counsel, Demetrio Custodio, told Inquirer they would file a motion for reconsideration at the DOJ to assail its ruling, saying the panel “exceeded its authority.”

“We were surprised that the panel exceeded its authority by finding probable cause,” he said.

He added that they would ask the regional trial court that will handle the case to determine anew the existence of “probable cause” against Reyes and the other accused.

Assassinating Abraham Mitra

Written by MANNY PIÑOL
Published on 16 April 2012

I have been to Palawan several times in the past, the most recent was in December last year when I brought my family, including my two daughters’ boyfriends, to the world famous Puerto Princesa Underground River and the lovely Honda Bay.

Feeding the fish in one of the islets in Honda Bay was so magical that I felt like I was a child again while the caverns of the underground river are so mystifying they make you realize that there is a God after all who carved such wondrous creations.

But the heaven that is Palawan is burning because of the intense squabbles between two groups of big political families made worse by the murder of a pro-environment radio commentator which is being blamed on the former governor of the island, Joel Reyes.

The warring political factions are incumbent Governor Abraham “Baham” Mitra and Reyes whose wife, Fem is Mitra’s vice governor, on one side, and Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn, on the other side.

Hagedorn has the upperhand now mainly because of the murder of Dr. Gerry Ortega whose death is blamed on former Gov. Reyes, now the subject of a manhunt following the issuance of a warrant of arrest against him.

The Puerto Princesa mayor, a Manileño before he made Palawan his home, has been in the forefront of the efforts to bring the killers of Gerry Ortega to justice.

It would have been a normal reaction of a local leader concerned with ensuring justice for his people if not for the fact that Reyes happens to be the political archenemy of Hagedorn.

No, I am not suggesting that Reyes is innocent of the murder of Ortega. While I acknowledge that Reyes and I jointly worked on some projects in Palawan when we were both Governors, like introducing rubber and oil palm farming in the Island province, I have no direct knowledge on the circumstances and the details of the Ortega murder.

One thing I am certain though is that in the many years of my association with the former governor, I have never thought of him as a violent man capable of plotting the murder of a media man who happened to be his critic. But then I could be wrong about my appreciation of his personality.

But with the way Hagedorn is handling the issue now, there are suspicions that he is using the tragic death of Gerry Ortega to exact vengeance against Reyes who dealt the Puerto Princesa mayor a stinging defeat when he attempted to run for governor of Palawan almost a decade ago.

Supported by a friendly media group which sympathized with the killing of a fellow journalist, Hagedorn has lately acted like a raging bull rampaging down the road raring to gore anyone with a red shirt.

His public statement on national television linking the former governor to the recent bombing in Puerto Princesa has raised a question on Hagedorn’s real intention in leading the crusade to capture the killers of Dr. Ortega.

Would it not have been more prudent and wise on the part of Hagedorn to leave the investigation and the announcement of the leads in the investigation to the police?

What was worse were recent stories dragging the name of the incumbent Gov. Abraham “Baham” Mitra to the issue.

In recent articles, the late Dr. Ortega was described as a “critic of Reyes and Governor Baham Mitra.”

Linking Mitra to the Ortega case mainly because of his association with Reyes would lead independent political observers to conclude that Ortega’s death is being exploited by some political personalities to demonize their political opponents.

Why is there an effort now to tag Mitra as well as one of those who was fiercely criticized by the late Dr. Ortega in his radio programs? What is the purpose of the tagging?

From where I sit, this is plain and simple political assassination and the objective is as clear as the waters of Honda Bay.

Dr. Ortega’s killing was a dastardly crime and those behind it should be brought to the bars of justice and punished.

But the effort of political personalities to use his death to further their political agenda is a crime just as vile and evil as murder.

TIMELINE: Gerry Ortega Case

BY NUJP ⋅ AUGUST 30, 2012

Dr. Gerardo Ortega, known to Palawenos as Doc Gerry, was a broadcaster, anti-corruption crusader and an environmentalist. He received recognition for his community-based projects on the environment, and relentlessly exposed corruption in the province.

Until his death, Ortega had criticized officials, one of them former Governor Joel T. Reyes, for the missing provincial funds and miscounting of Malampaya Gas Project Funds.

It was said that Ortega was silenced because his attacks on Reyes and Governor Baham Mitra could lead to the filing of plunder cases against them. In extrajudicial confessions made by some of the suspects, Reyes allegedly referred to Ortega as “sakit ng ulo (a headache).”

On January 24, 2011, Ortega was shot in the back of the head at pointblank range and died on the spot.

Below is the timeline of events before, during and after Doc Gerry’s death:

Dr. Gerry Ortega (middle), environmentalist and radio anchor. Photo from his Facebook page.

May 2010 — Joel Reyes, then governor of Palawan province, loses his bid for reelection. Ortega was among those who campaigned against Reyes, raising corruption and environmental issues against him.

July 4 — Rodolfo “Bumar” Edrad, former close-in bodyguard of ex-Marinduque governor Jose Antonio Carreon and Joel Reyes, goes to a mall in Makati City with the two. There, Reyes supposedly asks Carreon if he can have two media practitioners killed in December 2010.

December — Edrad and Joel Reyes go to the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City. According to Edrad, Joel Reyes gave him “P100,000 for mobilization of recruits and P50,000 for purchase of a gun.” the former governor also allegedly gives him three pictures of Ortega.

Dec. 16 — Edrad gets acquainted with a certain Armando Noel Jr., who tapped Arandia; they both go to Edrad’s house to discuss the plot to kill Ortega. Edrad gives the two P20,000 and P25,000, respectively, for expenses, and three photos of Doc Gerry.

January 8, 2011 — Edrad allegedly receives final instructions from Joel Reyes, who went abroad with his daughter.

Jan. 20 — Noel and Aranas start their surveillance of Ortega but failed to see him at his pet shop.They resume surveillance the next day and saw Gerry at a car wash near his pet shop.

Jan. 23 — Aranas receives a text message from Noel. The text message reads: “Pare, nagtext na ang asset natin na hindi pa pala nakakalabas ng Palawan ang target at nasa farm lang, bukas (Jan 24, 2011), pupunta ang target natin sa pet shop pag nakita niyo, tirahin niyo na. ABS-CBN ang sasakyan na itim na pickup na may kasamang bodyguard

(Friend, our asset sent a text message saying our target is still in Palawan and is only at his farm. Tomorrow, our target will go to his pet shop. Shoot him when you see him. He will be aboard a black pickup with ABS-CBN markings and is accompanied by a bodyguard).”

Aranas claims he disregarded the text message and tried getting Ortega’s number so he could warn him of the murder plot.

Jan. 24, 10:12-10:14 a.m. — Ortega is shot dead in an ukay-ukay (used clothing) store on the national highway in San Pedro, Puerto Princesa. He died from a single gunshot near his nape.

Closed circuit camera footage (obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism) catches Recamata fleeing from the crime scene.

Journalist’s killers caught on video 3

10:40 a.m. — After a brief chase, policemen from San Vicente town arrest Recamata. He is immediately turned over to the Puerto Princesa City police. Recamata makes an extrajudicial confession the same day.

Jan. 25 — The Office of City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa files an Information for murder against Recamata and four “John Does.”

Jan. 26 — Aranas goes to Coron town and contacted a certain Inspector Orig to relay his intention to surrender. He is arrested on Jan. 28, and on Feb. 22, he makes an extrajudicial confession before Rosauro Bautista, an NBI agent in Puerto Princesa City.

The PNP Regional Crime Laboratory examines the murder weapon and confirms it to be licensed to lawyer Romeo Seratubias, former provincial administrator under Reyes.

A case diagram made by the Justice for Gerry Ortega movement explains the role of each suspect in the radio broadcaster’s killing.

Feb. 5 — Edrad surrenders in Lucena City to Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagerdorn. Edrad implicates Joel and Mario Reyes, Carreon and Regalado. He makes an extrajudicial confession the next day.

Feb. 7 — Regalado submits a statement on the Ortega killing and files a supplement to the statement on February 9.

Feb. 10 — Noel surrenders, and makes an extrajudicial confession three days later; Patria Ortega, wife of Gerry, files an instant complaint before the NBI.

Feb. 14 — Patria Ortega files a supplemental affidavit complaint before the DOJ.

Feb. 28 — Arandia submits his extrajudicial confession where he admits Edrad, the son of a close friend, approached him on the first week of December to discuss a murder. Regalado files a counter-affidavit maintaining he had no participation in the killing of Gerry Ortega.

Mar. 1– Justice Sec. Leila de Lima inhibits herself from the Ortega case because Joel Reyes is a former client.

May 2 — Lecias files an affidavit to deny any participation in the conspiracy to kill Gerry Ortega.

June 14- The DOJ panel — Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog and Prosecutors Bryan Jacinto Cacha and John Benedict Medina — rules the evidence submitted during the preliminary investigation failed to establish probable cause against Joel, brother and Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, Carreon, Seratubias, Regalado and Lecias.

Gerry Ortega’s daughter Michaella (left) and wife Patty (right) in a press conference at the Justice Department.

July 1– Patty Ortega files a partial motion for reconsideration asking the DOJ to reverse the findings of the original prosecutors’ panel and asking to make Rodolfo Edrad a state witness.

Sept. 7 — De Lima denies the motion filed by the Ortega camp to reverse its earlier ruling to absolve Reyes and the five others. However, she issues Department Order No. 710 ordering a new panel formed to reinvestigate the Ortega case; The new panel is composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Stewart Allan Mariano, Vimar Barcellano and Gerard Gaerlan.

Sept. 14 — Lawyer Al Parreno presents his study on extrajudicial killings, focusing on data on the murders of journalists and lawyers. Parreno says the Gerry Ortega murder is one of two cases with the strongest chance of convicting a mastermind, excluding the Ampatuan massacre.

Oct. 3 — Joel Reyes petitions the Court of Appeals to stop the reinvestigation of his alleged involvement in the Ortega murder.

Oct. 21– The new DOJ panel begins its work. Mariano is named panel head. Recordings of Ortega’s broadcasts in which he criticized Reyes were submitted to establish the motive for the killing.

Nov. 12 — The Court of Appeals denies Joel Reyes’ petition for a temporary restraining order against the reinvestigation of Ortega’s killing.

Jan. 24, 2012 — First anniversary of the Ortega murder.

March 12 — Second Panel of Prosecutors issues a resolution finding probable cause against Reyes brothers, Carreon, Seratubias, Regalado and Lecias. On the same day, an Information is filed before the Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa, Branch 52 against the six.

March 13 — Justice Secretary Leila De Lima issues a Lookout Bulletin directing immigration officers to be bar any possibility for Joel and Mario Reyes to leave the Philippines through any of the country’s airports or seaports.

March 15 — Joel Reyes files before the 7th Division of the Court of Appeals a “Very Urgent Motion for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order with Motion for Oral Arguments”. In the motion, Joel Reyes asks the CA to rebuke the criminal proceedings against him while his resolution remains unresolved.

Prior to this, Mario Reyes has filed before the CA 15th Division, a “Very Urgent Motion for Immediate Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order, Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or Other Relief/s such as Status Quo Ante Order”. The petition assails the March 12 resolution of the second DoJ panel.

Former Gov. Joel Reyes’ alleged passport. Here he assumes the name Joseph Lim Pe. Photo from

Mar. 18 — Reports surface that Joel and Mario Reyes have left the country aboard Cebu Pacific Flight 5J751 bound to Vietnam. Joel Reyes allegedly uses an authentic password in the name of Joseph Lim Pe.

March 27 — Puerto Princesa RTC Branch 52 issues warrants of arrest against Reyes brothers, Seratubias, Regalado and Lecias. RTC Br. 52 also issues a Hold Departure Order against the two Reyeses.

April 2 — Joel Reyes files before the 15th Division of the Court of Appeals a Motion to Attached Supplemental Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition.

July 2 — Mario Reyes files a Motion for Voluntary Inhibition of the Ponente in the 15th Division of the Court of Appeals by reason of its failure to act upon and/or grant the Urgent Motion for Issuance of Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order, stating that it is an indication of bias.

Aug. 30 — In a statement, the Ortegas reveal they received reports “that the family and supporters of the fugitive [Reyes] brothers are doing everything and anything possible to get a favorable decision from the Court of Appeals.”

Abraham Kahlil Mitra

Abraham Kahlil Mitra is the current provincial governor of Palawan, a fast-growing archipelago-province in the Southern Tagalog Region. He is the youngest son of former House of Representatives Speaker Ramon Mitra, Jr. and Cecilia Aldeguer Blanco. He is popularly known to people both in Palawan and elsewhere as “Baham”.

Political Career

Following the footsteps of his father who served the Philippine government for a very long time, Baham Mitra entered politics at a very young age. Baham served as a Presidential Consultant for Palawan from 1998 until 2000 under former President Joseph Estrada. He became a member of the House of Representatives representing the second legislative district of Palawan for three consecutive terms until 2010. Programs and projects for the welfare of his representation were massively implemented as he lobbied for the national government to appropriate sufficient funds thereof. High priorities were made for health, education, environmental protection and for the prime mover of the province’s growth- tourism.

Mitra bid for a gubernatorial post during the 2010 synchronized local and national elections. His attempt was full of trials as he was lambasted with protests allegedly for his unqualified residency requirement for such position. This complicated saga begun as opponents accused Baham of lying on his residency status. He claimed to had lived in a basement of a feed mill located in the municipality of Aborlan where he has been living since March 2008. Legal battle ensued as it reached the Supreme Court where if finally tendered its decision on Mitra’s favor on October 2010.

Baham’s stint as the provincial governor is also dramatic as recall election followed as he seated in the provincial capitol. This made headlines as a sectoral group called Kilusan Love Malampaya (KLM filed a petition for recall on alleged grounds of “loss of trust and confidence” on September 2011. In a statement, KLM accused Mitra of having “compromised” Palawan’s interests for accepting Malacañang’s offer of a significantly smaller portion of the province’s share of royalties amounting to P60 billion paid by the Malampaya consortium operating the natural gas project in offshore northern Palawan close to the municipality of El Nido. [{}] However, this election did not realized as the Commission of Elections was not able to decide on the matter immediately and the next mid-term elections for 2013 is just a few months away.

Baham Mitra’s leadership in the Palawan is very interesting. Innovative ways of leading this province comprising hundreds of islands and atolls became significant for its growth. It gains popularity for its promotion of sustainable development through economic and tourism synergy working hand in hand to achieve holistic progress.

Personal Life

Governor Abraham Khalil Mitra was born on January 3, 1970 in Manila. He finished his elementary at the Benedictine Abbey School in Alabang, Muntinglupa City in 1983. He continued his secondary schooling at the same school until 1987. He then studied BS Management at another Benedictine-run school, San Beda College and graduated in 1991.


Keeper Of The Mitra Blues

From childhood, the youngest son of one of the most prominent Filipino sabungero of all time – the late House Speaker Monching Mitra, was already seen as the one that will continue his father’s legacy, both in public service and the passion for gamefowls.

Baham, a 3-term representative and now Governor of the tourists-haven Palawan, continuously propagates and develops the unique Filipino strain of fightingcocks that bear the Mitra name. He co-founded the Group of Palawan Gamefowl Breeders, Inc. and continues to be the association’s staunch supporter and benefactor.

“Now, I am tasks to continue my father’s legacies and I tell you, his shoes are hard to fill”, Baham stated. One of Baham’s current goal is to be able to reinvigorate the bloodline or strain of fightingcocks that his father made famous, the Mitra Blues and the Mitra 56 which won back-to-back international derby titles in Bacolod during the 80s.

“I will be fighting an all-abuhin line-up in the Thunderbird Palawan Challenge” Mitra revealed.

poultry gamefowl chicken gamecock


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