MANILA, Philippines – The daughter of murdered Palawan broadcaster Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega filed a case against former Palawan governor Joel Reyes on Tuesday, September 11 for tampering with his passport. Reyes reportedly used a fake passport to leave the country on March 18.
Michaella Ortega filed a case against the fugitive Reyes – one of the 5 suspects in her father’s killing in January 2011 – at the Pasay prosecutor’s office for using the passport of a certain Joseph Lim Pe to go to Vietnam in March. (Another suspect, Reyes’s aide, Percival Lecias, died today, September 11, from a kidney disease).
Reyes, along with his lawyer Hermie Aban and his co-accused and brother former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, left for Ho Chi Minh City aboard Cebu Pacific flight 5J751 on March 18. The Vietnam Immigration office confirmed their arrival in Ho Chi Minh city on March 19.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said in August that Reyes had tampered with his passport.
DFA Assistant Secretary Jaime Victor Ledda said the passport that Reyes used had its data page “replaced with another data page containing the photograph of the ex-governor with a different signature.”
Altering of passport carries a fine of P60,000-P150,000 and a maximum sentence of 15 years.
The Reyes brothers were able to leave the country even after they were placed in the lookout bulletin of the Department of Justice on March 13. A day before, a DOJ investigating panel found probable cause to indict the two for the murder of Ortega, a known critic of mining in Palawan. Ortega’s widow, Patria, said her husband had assailed Reyes for allowing mining activities in Palawan.
Judge Angelo Arizala of the regional trial court of Puerto Princesa, branch 52, issued a warrant of arrest against the Reyes brothers on March 27 and also barred them from leaving the country. They were placed by the International Criminal Police Organization in the red notice list on May 11.
“The reason why they left the country and why they need to use a fake passport is because they want to escape the law,” Michaella Ortega said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Reyes’ lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, said the filing of the case is just a “publicity stunt.”
“The latest move of the daughter of the late Dr Gerry Ortega in filing a case for alleged violation of the Passport Law against former Governor Joel Reyes is another stunt in furtherance of the massive trial by publicity being perpetrated against the Reyes brothers,” he said. – Rappler.com