MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seriously considering putting up a reward for information that may lead to the arrest of Palawan ex-Governor Joel Reyes and several of his co-accused for the murder of environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. Gerardo "Doc Gerry" Ortega.
Speaking to reporters, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said she will discuss with Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo the possibility of offering reward.
"Within the week, kung wala pang development, we can consider a reward. Usap muna kami ni Secretary Robredo since the reward system is administered by the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government)," De Lima said.
Reyes, his brother Coron Mayor Mario Reyes Jr., Arturo Regalado and Valentin Lecias remain at large, while respondents Rodolfo Edrad, Jr., Armando Noel, Jr., Dennis Aranas, Arwin Arandia, and former Palawan provincial administrator Romeo Serratubias are already detained.
De Lima urged Reyes and his co-accused to surrender to authorities and prove their innocence before the court.
She said "in all indications," they are still within Philippine shores.
Reyes, in an earlier statement, vowed he will not surrender.
The former governor went into hiding after a second DOJ investigating panel released its findings of probable cause against him last March13.
"If he believes in his innocence, he has to prove it in court. The more na nagtatago sila, under the rules and under the law, it is indicative of guilt. Kung naniniwala sila sa innocence nila, they have to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the court. 'Di sila basta basta makakalabas unless they use some means pero babantayan naman ang mga ports," De Lima said.
The justice chief, who had served as Reyes' election lawyer, warned the public that those who are "protecting" Reyes will be charged accordingly.
"That's harboring a fugitive aside from obstruction of justice. They can be charged for these offenses," she said.
Ortega had been openly criticizing Reyes in his radio program before he was killed.
Ortega was gunned down at a used clothing store in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, in January 2011.
He was ABS-CBN Foundation program director for Philippine Ecotourism Palawan.