April 11, 2005—Police arrest Gerry Cabayag, Randy Grecia, Estanislao Bismanos and Rowie Barua for carrying out the murder. In testimony, Barua, a military officer, revealed regional agriculture department officials Osmeña Montaner and Estrella Sabay ordered him to hire the gunmen, according to CPJ research.
June 2005—Nena Santos, a private prosecutor working for the Esperat family, petitions to transfer the case from Tacurong to the more neutral city of Cebu in the central Philippines.
August, 31, 2005—One day before the case is to be moved to Cebu, the Tacurong court dismisses murder charges against the two officials, Montaner and Sabay. (See CPJ Alert.)
May 15, 2006—CPJ writes to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urging the government to acknowledge the problem of impunity in journalist murders.
October 6, 2006—Cebu Regional Trial Court convicts assailants Cabayag, Grecia, and Bismanos of murder and gives each a minimum sentence of 30 years without parole (described as synonymous with a life sentence in the local media). Barua is acquitted. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales orders reinstatement of murder charges against Montañer and Sabay.
July 26, 2007—CPJ delegation in Manila meets with journalists and Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno to discuss how to combat impunity.
October 7, 2007—The Road to Justice, a CPJ
special report by Sheila Coronel and
February 4 2008—Cebu regional court issues arrest warrants against Montañer and Sabay.
February 2009—Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), a coalition of six media groups and a CPJ partner in the , requests a change in the location of the trial, from the Tacurong City Regional Trial Court to Makati City in the capital of Manila. (See CPJ Alert.)
March 2009—Suspects Montaner and Sabay file the first of two motions to quash the arrest warrants against them. The Tacurong court dismisses both, according to CPJ Alert and local news reports.
August 26, 2009—The Philippines Supreme Court grants FFFJ’s request to transfer the case from Tacurong City Regional Trial Court to Makati City. CPJ welcomes this decision.