MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals has invalidated the creation of an investigating panel that linked former Palawan Gov Joel Reyes and his brother Coron Mayor Mario Reyes to the 2011 killing of Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega.
Ferdinand Topacio, lawyer of the Reyes brothers, confirmed to Rappler on Monday, November 26 that the CA nullified the second panel formed by the Department of Justice to investigate Ortega’s murder.
Ortega, who was critical of the Reyes brothers over the alleged misuse of funds generated from the Malampaya gas field in Palawan, was gunned down in January 2011 in Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan.
The first panel formed by the DOJ in 2011 found no probable cause against the Reyes brothers due to insufficient evidence. But a second panel created in September 2011, composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Stewart Allan Mariano, Vimar Barcellano and Gerard Gaerlan, later ruled otherwise. The panel approved the filing of murder charges against the brothers in March 2012.
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, but the Reyes brothers had already left for Vietnam by then, based on immigration records.
“Let us respect the courts,” Topacio said.
“If they cannot respect the decisions of the agencies comprising our justice system, then they should not participate in these legal proceedings.”
Michaella Ortega, daughter of the slain broadcaster, said they would rather not comment on this development yet. – Rappler.com