MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing of murder charges vs ex-Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, his brother, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, Jr., and several others for the murder of environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. Gerardo "Gerry" Ortega.
This is a product of a reinvestigation ordered by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima last September, after Ortega's widow, Patria, moved for the admission of new evidence against respondents such as mobile phone communication records reflecting communications between respondents Edrad and Joel Reyes, and recordings of radio commentaries of the victim when he was still alive, regarding his criticisms against Reyes.
The first DOJ panel that investigated the complaint dismissed the charges against Reyes, Reyes, Jr., former Palawan Provincial Administrator Romeo Serratubias, Arturo Regalado and Valentin Lecias.
The second panel, composed of Asst. State Prosecutor Stewart Allan Mariano, Asst. State Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano, and Associate Prosecution Atty. Gerard Gaerlan reversed the findings of the first panel and found probable cause against the above-stated persons.
"After a careful evaluation of the records, the undersigned investigating prosecutors find the evidence adduced by complainant sufficient to show probable cause that respondents [Joel] Reyes, [Mario] Reyes, Jr., Seratubias, Regalado, and Lecias are probable guilty as co-conspirators in the murder of herein victim," the resolution read.
The first panel's finding of probable cause, meantime, against respondents Rodolfo Edrad, Jr., Armando Noel, Jr., Dennis Aranas, and Arwin Arandia was affirmed in the second resolution.
Only respondent Antonio Carrion, former Marinduque governor, was absolved for insufficiency of evidence.
The resolution of the reinvestigation was released to the media today. The resolution, dated March 12, consists of 28 pages.
Ortega was gunned down while shopping at a used clothing (ukay-ukay) store in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, last January 24.
He was ABS-CBN Foundation program director for Philippine Ecotourism Palawan.