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Arrest warrants for Reyeses stay


Former Palawan Governor Joel T. Reyes INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The arrest warrants against former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother for the killing of broadcaster and environmental activist Gerry Ortega will stay as the Court of Appeals ruling invalidating the findings of a justice department investigation panel is not yet final, according to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

It goes without saying that the P2-million bounty for the arrest of the former governor and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, would also stay, Lacierda said.

He said Malacañang was upholding Justice Secretary Lilia de Lima’s exercise of her “plenary authority” to create a second panel to re-investigate the murder, arguing that she did not abuse her discretion. He said the Office of the Solicitor General would file a motion for reconsideration with the appellate court.

Ortega was gunned down in January of 2011 in a case that rights groups said highlighted the “culture of impunity” in the Philippines where politicians routinely attack their critics without being punished.

Despite the strong evidence, however, prosecutors initially cleared the Reyes brothers, triggering a public outcry and an intense social-media campaign that forced the justice department to reinvestigate the case.

Probable cause

In March, a new investigation panel created by De Lima ruled there was probable cause to charge the two, and a Palawan court subsequently issued an arrest warrant.

The case, however, suffered a setback last Tuesday, when the appellate court invalidated the findings of the second investigation on a technicality, potentially voiding the arrest warrants.

In its decision, the appellate court’s 5th Division castigated De Lima for abusing her discretion in creating a second panel instead of reviewing the resolution of the first panel, which concluded that there was no probable cause to indict the Reyes brothers.

It said De Lima should adhere to the rules of procedure for the administration of justice, lest her vast powers become susceptible to abuse. “Scary!!” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba.

Meanwhile, the lawyer of the Reyes brothers, who have been on the run since March, said the fugitive politicians would remain in hiding until a court lifts the arrest warrants against them.

“We will file a motion with the court to get a definitive statement on the lifting of the warrant of arrest against them,” lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said.

“Until we get that, I would suggest to them not to surface first. They are fugitives from injustice,” he said. With AFP

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Tags: Court of Appeals , Edwin Lacierda , Gerry Ortega , Joel Reyes , Mario Reyes , Palawan

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QZZKXPEA67I7HELEIYM35QVYFA Jon

    Obviously,the DOJ dropped the ball on this one.
    Maybe they were too busy campaigning to be included in the shortlist for CJ nominees that they forgot to put in the required diligence and competence to successfully prosecute the case.

  • http://twitter.com/olivervicente3 oliver vicente

    The 1st investigating panel of the Ortega murder case found no suffiecient evidence against the Reyes brothers.  De Lima’s 2nd panel found probable cause, now the Court of Appeals has invalidated the 2nd panel’s findings, aba’y ibig sabihin lang nun talagang walang malakas na
    ebidensya laban sa magkaptid dahil 2 out of 3 na ang nagsabi na wala nga silang kinalaman sa pagkamatay ni Ortega. 

    Dapat siguro instead na ipagpilitan nila na si Joel at Marjo ang may sala, magumpisa na silang ma-iimbestigahan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.decastro.140 Jason de Castro

    And since de Lima literally botched this job thoroughly, the palace boys are giving the pRoblem to the solgen to solve. Although its his job to do so and the papers will be signed by the solgen himself, we all know de Lima will pen the said appeal and she will use it to explain her not abusing her authority in creating that second panel, which, she knew at the onset, will question the findings of the original panel that acquitted the Reyeses. Oh Sec. Leila, we know how you work, we know how you think and we know your abuses even when you were still the CHR head and a lapdog of Arroyo. Dont question the CA decision anymore and instead look for the real mastermind in the Ortega killing. Stop being the secretary of injustice.

  • Philip Vera Cruz

    There is no reason why that RTC branch in Puerto Princesa would not void the warrants it issued…unless of course Judge Arizala finds the CA Resolution as lacking in jurisdiction…or unless someone from Puerto Princesa, the bailiwick of the political rival of the Reyeses, has already made the decision for the good judge, maybe? Because the Mayor there is allegedly making the people believe that the CA decision is a farce. Fishy, fishy, fishy.

  • conradoibarra

    Why would the warrants stay when the panel that presented the evidence leading to the arrest warrant was nullified? Currently, the case is just all about one party’s word against the other, and the evidence, or the lack of it, is crucial in determining the guilt or innocence of the Reyeses, and apparently, the decision of the first panel still stands.

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