MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals (CA) rendered the creation of the second panel “null and void” for the investigation of Doc Gerry Ortega’s murder, but it seems the Reyes brothers – Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and Coron Mayor Mario Reyes – aren’t off the hook yet.
Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has already directed the Solicitor General to file a motion for reconsideration before the CA the moment the office receives the copy of the aforementioned court decision.
The CA, in particular, ruled that Secretary de Lima committed “grave abuse of discretion” in the conception of a new panel to investigate the Ortega case, further noting that the creation of the new panel is unlawful which, in effect, dismisses the findings of said panel accusing the Reyes brothers as the masterminds of the killing.
Based on the investigation of the second panel, the new team has found probable cause to file criminal charges against the Reyes brothers for Ortega’s death, regardless of the initial findings of the first panel saying otherwise.
According to gathered reports, Secretary de Lima asserted that the Justice Secretary holds plenary authority to create a new investigation panel under the National Prosecution Act. She added that the new panel was necessary to remedy the “miscarriage of justice” arising from acts or omissions of her subordinates. Besides, she also mentioned that it’s too early to relieve the Reyes brothers from the case.
Recall that Gerardo Valeriano Ortega DVM, a prominent local environmentalist and broadcaster, was shot dead on January 24, 2011 in Puerto Princesa City by the alleged gunman, Marlon Recamata, who has already pleaded guilty to the crime and revealed Rodolfo Edrad as one of his co-conspirators.
Edrad, co-conspirator turned state witness, pinpointed the Reyes brothers as masterminds to the murder. After all, it is difficult to dismiss Edrad’s statement with the gun used for Ortega’s killing being registered under Governor Reyes’ former provincial administrator.