MANILA, Philippines -- Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn fears for the life of a third witness in the killing of journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega.
Hagedorn made this statement after a suspect-turned-witness in the case, Dennis Aranas, was found dead inside his cell in a provincial jail.
During the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the Malampaya funds Thursday, Hagedorn said the third witness, Rodolfo Edrad alias Bumar, is the most important witness because he was the one who gave the gun to the triggerman.
"Ang pinagtataka ko lang sa kasong ito, lahat ng perpetrators nahuli -- the triggerman, the lookout, the owner of the gun. Pero bakit ang tagal na? Very alarming, very frightening kasi dalawa na 'yung namamatay na witness," he said.
"Madami akong nareceive na report kay Bumar na ino-offeran siya millions of pesos para bumaligtad. Ang kinakatakutan namin nagkakaroon ng kaso, gusto siya dalhin sa Lucena, dun daw siya ide-detain. Pag nawala pa si Bumar, tapos na 'yung kaso kasi siya ang directly nagturo kay Joel Reyes," Hagedorn added.
On Tuesday, Aranas was found lifeless, hanging by the strap of a shoulder bag in his cell at the Lucena Provincial Jail in Quezon.
Aranas was the alleged lookout for the killers.
Aranas' family suspects foul play and has requested for an autopsy.
Last year, another witness in the Ortega killing, Val Lecias, was also found dead after succumbing to liver disease.
ANC Dateline Philippines, February 7, 2013