Former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron, Palawan Mayor Mario Reyes, may be flown to the country either on Wednesday or Thursday, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
De Lima said the deportation of the Reyes brothers from Thailand where they were arrested has been expedited.
She added that officers of the Philippine National Police and agents of the Interpol (International l Police) will fetch the Reyes brothers in Thailand.
The Reyes brothers are the suspects in the slaying of environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega on January 24, 2011.
De Lima said once the Reyes brothers arrive in the country, they will be temporarily detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) while waiting for a “commitment order” from the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court (RTC), which had issued the arrest warrant against them.
The Reyes brothers were arrested in Phuket, Thailand, last Sunday for alleged “overstaying.”
Meanwhile, the Ortega family prodded de Lima to immediately act on a petition seeking a review of the findings of a panel of prosecutors clearing the former Palawan governor.
The widow and daughter of Ortega said de Lima’s continued inaction on the petition may eventually favor the former governor and his brother, Mario.
Patricia “Patty” Ortega, widow of the slain journalist, noted that de Lima should waste no time now that the brothers have been arrested in Phuket.
“’Yan po ang hinihiling namin kay Secretary de Lima kahit maglumuhod kami sa harap niya [That’s what we are asking Secretary de Lima, even if we have to kneel before her],” Patty told The Manila Times.
Her daughter, Michaella or “Mika,” said they welcome the arrests with “guarded sense of hope and optimism,” noting that the suspects may take advantage of the loopholes in the justice system.
“Even the Court of Appeals (CA) in a previous ruling stated that it would be better for everybody if Secretary [de Lima]will resolve the petition,” Mika added.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) formed a first panel of prosecutors to hear the murder case in June and September 2011 that eventually cleared the brothers.
The DOJ formed a second panel on March 12, 2012 by virtue of Order 710 after the first panel absolved Reyes.
The second panel overturned the findings of the first panel but the CA declared the second order “null and void” and upheld the findings of the first panel.
The Justice department filed a motion for reconsideration but the appellate court affirmed its decision in a six-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Angelita Gacutan of the Special 10th Division.
The court reinforced its dispositive position declaring the Justice department’s Order 710 null and void, including the resolution of the second panel of prosecutors dated March 12, 2012.
The CA reinstated the resolutions of the first panel of prosecutors dated June 8 and September 2, 2011 that cleared Reyes.
The legal remedy, according to the Ortegas, is for de Lima to follow the dictates of the CA, which ruled that the Justice secretary has the authority to review resolutions of the prosecutors when no petition for review is filed.
The court said instead of forming a new panel, de Lima should have just reviewed the decision of the first panel of prosecutors.