CA sets hearing for Ortega murder case-A A +A
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
THE Court of Appeals (CA) has scheduled a clarificatory hearing for the petition filed by fugitive Coron Mayor Mario Reyes questioning the filing of a criminal information against him for the murder of Palawan-based broadcast journalist and environmental activist Gerry Ortega.
Reyes, together with his brother, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, was tagged as the mastermind behind the Ortega killing last January 24 in Puerto Princesa.
While the Reyes brothers remained at large despite the arrest warrants issued by the Puerto Princesa courts, their lawyers separately filed petitions at the CA, questioning the reinvestigation mounted by the Department of Justice based solely on a letter request from the family of the accused.
In a two-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba, the CA's Special Fifth Division ordered the parties and their lawyers to appear at the hearing on October 29.
"Considering that there are matters/issues which the court wants to be clarified, let this case be set for clarificatory hearing. So ordered," the CA ruled.
Associate Justices Ramon Cruz and Myra Garcia-Fernandez concurred with the ruling.
In their separate petitions at the CA, the Reyes brothers are questioning the composition of the second panel of prosecutors composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Allan Stewart Mariano, as its head, and members Vimar Barcellano and Gerard Gaerlan, which found probable cause to indict them for the Ortega murder.
The Mariano panel reversed an initial finding of the first group of prosecutors that dismissed the complaint filed against the brothers, after they took consideration of the additional evidence submitted by complainant, Ortega's widow, Patria Gloria.
The second DOJ panel also recommended the filing of murder charges against former Palawan Provincial Administrator Romeo Seratubias, Reyes' close-in security Arturo Regalado and Valentin Lecias, but sustained its predecessor's recommendation to dismiss charges against Marinduque Governor Antonio Carreon for lack of sufficient evidence.
The new panel gave weight to the additional evidence submitted by the Ortega family, such as the mobile phone communications between self-confessed gunman Rodolfo "Bumar" Edrad Jr. and Joel Reyes, as well as the recording of radio commentaries of the victim against Reyes.
Based on the scrutiny of the former governor's outgoing text messages, he sent 15 text messages to Edrad in December 2010, 27 text messages in January 2011 and 16 out of 84 text messages on January 24, 2011, the day Ortega was shot down.
Mario Reyes, in his petition at the appellate court, also questioned the evidence used by the DOJ panel in indicting him, which was his supposed giving of a P50,000 "initial payment" to Edrad. He claimed that this allegation was not substantiated by the complainant. (JCV/Sunnex)