MANILA, Philippines – ABS-CBN News has obtained a passport of a certain Joseph Lim Pe, who bears a striking resemblance to former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes.
Reyes is wanted for the murder of environmentalist Gerry Ortega.
Sources say it's possible that Reyes used Pe's passport to slip out of the country.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima has information that Reyes fled to Vietman on March 18, nine days before the court issued an arrest warrant against him.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has similar documents.
“Ang sinasabi nga, si Joel Reyes took the name of Joseph Lim Pe, at si Mario Reyes took another name at ganito din, pinalitan ang picture sa passport and they boarded a plane to Vietnam,” said DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Robredo has ordered an investigation.
"’Yung circumstance, pangalawa ‘yung litrato mismo. Hindi siya ito eh. Una, parang unlikely that he will take this flight para ma-expose siya. Pangalawa, ‘yung immigration officer na dinaan ng papel at tinanong din, sabi hindi si Joel Reyes ‘yon,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration confirms that a certain Joseph Lim Pe left the country on March 18.
It is investigating if the man was Reyes.
“If they used other names, that is something that we have to continuously look into and investigate,” said immigration spokesperson Atty. Maria Antonette Mangrobang.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is also looking into Pe's passport.
The passport appears authentic but it might have been tampered with.
“Sa nalalaman ko, hindi ‘yan ang picture na nakalagay ngayon doon. Malayo po. We have to check whether the document is genuine or whether it has been tampered,” said DFA Assistant Secretary Jet Ledda.
Reyes and his brother Coron Mayor Mario Reyes were tagged as masterminds in Ortega's killing.
President Aquino has raised the bounty for the former governor, from P1 million to P2 million.
Reyes camp denies flight
But Reyes's lawyer Ferdinand Topacio denies that his client has left the country.
Topacio believes that reports about Reyes's flight were merely concocted by his political foes.
“We take strong exception to the wild rumors regarding the supposed flight of our client, former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes. From the start, we have maintained that the charges against our client is politically-motivated, and these rumors are being circulated by his political opponents to suit their own purposes and agenda,” said Topacio. -- ANC