MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Two former Palawan officials implicated in the murder of broadcast journalist Gerry Ortega arrived in Manila early Friday, September 25, and were brought immediately to Camp Crame.
Joel Reyes, the former governor of Palawan island, and his brother Mario, former Coron mayor, arrived at around 3:07 am Friday via Philippine Airlines flight PR733. They were escorted by personnel from the Philippine National Police and the Airport Police.
They were brought to Camp Crame, where they will be temporarily detained. The two were presented to the media by Interior Secretary Mel Sarmiento and PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez.
The Reyes brothers were arrested on the holiday island of Phuket, Thailand, last Sunday, September 20, after 3-year manhunt.
An informant emailed the Philippine National Police photos of their villa in Phuket. The first email was sent to the police on September 8. (READ: Emails, photos from informant led to Reyes brothers’ arrest)
“Their arrest is a testament to the strong partnership and cooperation between the PNP and Thai police,” said Marquez at an early Friday press conference. The two will eventually be brought to Palawan pending court processing since Friday is a holiday, Marquez added.
The Reyes brothers are facing murder charges over the 2011 death of Gerry Ortega, a prominent Palawan environment activist who had also used a radio show he hosted to frequently accuse the Reyes brothers of massive graft. (READ: Timeline: Gerry Ortega murder case)
Aside from alleged environmental crimes, Ortega had accused Joel Reyes of syphoning off millions of dollars in revenues from a gasfield off the coast of Palawan when he was governor.
Ex-governor Reyes fled the country in March 2012 using a fake passport.
While in Thailand, Joel took name “Johnny” while Mario used “Nicky,” police said.
Upon learning of their arrest last Sunday, Michaella Ortega, daughter of the slain broadcaster, told Rappler: “It’s going to be a long fight.” – with reports from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com