MANILA, Philippines - Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo said private sector supporters of slain broadcaster Gerry Ortega have put up P300,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, Coron town Mayor Mario Reyes Jr.
Robredo said the bounty was pooled from sums of money offered by Ortega’s friends in the private sector and funds raised by Ortega’s widow Patria.
“The camp of Mrs. Ortega has put up P100,000 and my friends from the private sector were also able to raise P200,000. That’s a total of P300,000 as reward money to any informant who could provide us leads for the arrest of the Reyes brothers,” he said.
Robredo said the government, through the DILG, for its part, has yet to release any reward for the Reyeses in the absence of any recommendation from the Philippine National Police.
Robredo said he believes that the Reyes brothers are still in the country, as there are no indications or reports that they may have fled abroad to evade prosecution.
“Our police tracker teams have also not received reports that both may have used the ‘southern backdoor’ to escape prosecution,” he said.
Ortega was gunned down while shopping in an ukay-ukay (used clothing) store in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Jan. 24 last year.
Police later arrested the gunman, Marlon Recamata, who said he was hired by the former governor’s security aide Rodolfo Edrad Jr.
Edrad, who was also arrested, told probers he hired Recamata for the hit job upon Reyes’ order, in exchange for P150,000.
The Department of Justice earlier cleared Reyes of the charges for insufficiency of evidence but a second panel of prosecutors later reversed the ruling and indicted him and other accused.
Acting on the DOJ’s move, the Palawan Regional Trial Court Branch 52 ordered last March 27 the arrest of the Reyes brothers, former Palawan provincial administrator Romeo Seratubias, and provincial government employees Arturo Regalado and Percival Lecias for the Ortega murder.
Reyes’ lawyers have asked the Court of Appeals to nullify the arrest warrant, arguing that there was no new or material evidence that would warrant the DOJ to reconsider its earlier ruling clearing him of the charges.
The CA has yet to act on Reyes’ appeal and the warrant for his arrest is still in effect. - By Cecille Suerte Felipe