Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje expressed condemnation over the senseless killing of environmentalist-radio commentator Dr. Gerardo "Gerry" Ortega, decrying Ortega's killing as an ominous sign of a violent pattern aimed at those "who believe in restoring the grandeur of our environment and bequething to future generations an environmental heritage to be proud of."
Calling Ortega's death "a loss not only to Palawenos but to all Filipinos," Paje, in a press statement, underlined the seriousness of the current situation facing environmental workers, especially those who have "courageously carried" their environmental advocacy closer to the stage of public opinion and corridors of power where conflicts and threats are commonplace.
"He has courageously carried over his environmental advocacy, notably in wildlife conservation and climate change mitigation, to his work as a broadcaster," Paje said, noting that Ortega once worked with the DENR on the preservation of the Philippine crocodile.
Like the four DENR workers who were killed in just six months into DENR's crackdown against illegal logging in the CARAGA region, Paje noted that the killing of Ortega "deserves the strongest condemnation," calling on police authorities to "apprehend and cause the prosecution of the culprits behind these criminal acts."
From 1989 to 1994, Ortega was director of DENR's RP-Japan Crocodile Farming Institute in Irawan, Puerto Princesa City, under the auspices of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The project was to promote preservation of two endangered species of crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis and Crocodylus porosus) through research, farming, and captive breeding. The project was also to uplift the socio-economic standing of host communities through the establishment of crocodile farms as a livelihood activity in Irawan.
After his stint at the DENR, Ortega turned to politics then to broadcasting where he has been known as a staunch oppositionist against mining.