MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang assured the public yesterday that the warrant of arrest issued against former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother Coron Mayor Mario Reyes Jr. would be enforced.
In her weekly interview over state-run dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte allayed fears raised by certain groups that Reyes is being protected by Gov. Abraham Mitra, a member of the ruling Liberal Party.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has received the copy of the warrant and it will be enforced,” Valte said.
DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo yesterday said “all available resources would be used” to secure the arrest of the Reyes brothers, who have gone into hiding when warrants of arrests were issued against them for the murder of Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega in January last year.
Robredo said he also recalled the leave of absence of the Coron mayor.
“I have ordered a manhunt on governor Joel Reyes and Mayor Mario Reyes since the early morning of March 29, when we were informed that they would not surrender contrary to the initial information that they might,” said Robredo.
Robredo also ordered the Office of Internal Security of the DILG to conduct a parallel manhunt for the Reyes brothers in coordination with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
CIDG operatives were dispatched to hunt down the Reyes brothers and the other suspects, said CIDG chief Director Samuel Pagdilao.
Tracker teams of the Philippine National Police were also formed to go after the suspects.
Ortega, 47, was shot and killed by Marlon Recamata in front of an ukay-ukay (used clothing) store in Puerto Princesa City on Jan. 24, 2011.
Recamata, who was arrested after the killing, confessed that his group was hired to kill Ortega in exchange for P150,000.
In a statement issued Thursday night, Reyes said he would answer the accusations against him in due time.
”I’m just here, hiding in your hearts. Not to run away from justice but to avoid their continuing persecution and baseless allegation,” he said in Filipino in an audio recording emailed to media networks.
The Department of Justice ordered the indictment of the Reyes brothers, former provincial administrator Romeo Seratubias, Arturo Regalado, and Valentin Lecias after a reinvestigation by a second panel of state prosecutors on the complaint filed by Ortega’s widow Patria Gloria. Seratubias is now in police custody.
Judge Antonio Arizala of the Palawan Regional Trial Court Branch 52 issued an arrest warrant for the accused. No bail was recommended. - By Delon Porcalla and Mike Frialde