MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang stood by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s creation of a second panel of prosecutors that reinvestigated the killing of environmentalist broadcaster Gerry Ortega, which subsequently found probable cause to file murder charges against the Reyes brothers.
The Court of Appeals has nullified the panel’s findings, saying the Secretary of Justice committed grave abuse of discretion.
“We support the Secretary of Justice. It is within her plenary authority to do so. It’s a fundamental issue of where does authority lie, and… is the creation of the second panel within the plenary authority of the Secretary of Justice? We believe it is so,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
The Palace said the warrants of arrest against the Reyes brothers remain in affect in spite of the CA decision.
“The warrants stay because the CA decision is not yet final,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in a text message.
The CA reportedly used the word “scary” in describing the possibility of abuse of power if the Secretary of Justice does not adhere to the Rules of Procedure.
Lacierda said the position taken by the Department of Justice and also by Secretary Leila de Lima is that the creation of the second panel "is within her plenary authority as Secretary of Justice."
"So ang tanong namin: Why should the Court of Appeals be scared? In fact, I texted Secretary Leila de Lima at ang sabi niya, and I’d like to quote: ‘They shouldn‘t be scared of this Secretary of Justice. Only bad elements need be scared.’ So paniniwala po namin nasa plenary authority po ang ginawang pagbuo ng second panel ni Secretary Leila de Lima. And also, sinabi na rin po ni Secretary Leila de Lima she has asked the Office of the Solicitor General to file a motion for reconsideration,” he said.