Reyes brothers' court date set; No special treatment, says DILG.
Arrested fugitives former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron town mayor, Mario Reyes are set to enter their respective pleas to murder charges filed against them before the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in connection with the killing of environmentalist and broadcast journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega on Friday.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday said that the arraignment of the Reyes brothers has been scheduled at 8:30 a.m. on October 2 by the Puerto Princesa City RTC Branch 52.
"Naririnig ko sa mga balita kaninang umaga ang arraignment pero tinanong ko si Prosecutor General (Claro Arellano) ang sabi nya sa Friday ang arraignment," De Lima told reporters in an ambush interview yesterday.
De Lima said the prosecution would definitely oppose any move of the defense to delay the arraignment.
"Kung meron mang moves on the part of the counsels para ma-derail, ma-delay o ma-postpone ang arraignment, our guidance to the prosecutor is to oppose such moves," she said.
NO SPECIAL TREATMENT
Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mel Sarmiento said yesterday he will ensure that no special treatment will be accorded to the Reyes brothers and that their meeting with the press at the Palawan jail over the weekend will not be repeated.
Sarmiento said he has already instructed the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) "to investigate and take appropriate action if (the accusation against jail officials is) proven to be accurate."
BJMP Region 4 Director Lyndon Torres has already issued a relief order to Puerto Princesa City jail warden Sr. Insp. Don M. Paredes upon the order of Sarmiento. Put in Paredes' place is Senior Inspector Ariel O. Pabulayan
"We should expect the replacement (of the jail warden) to treat the Reyeses as ordinary inmates with no special privileges," the DILG chief said.
The Reyes brothers are accused of masterminding the murder of environmentalist and broadcast journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega in 2011 in Puerto Princesa City, a charge the two has denied.
They fled and went into hiding days before the RTC issued warrants for their arrest in 2012 and were only brought back to the country last week after they were apprehended by authorities in Thailand.
The Reyes brothers, however, claimed that they surrendered to Thai authorities and were not arrested as reported.
The two are currently detained at the Puerto Princesa City Jail, but reports said that they would seek the court's permission for a hospital arrest.
For her part, De Lima said the prosecution would also oppose any move of the defense for hospital arrest of the Reyes brothers, after it was floated by the latter's camp.
"Unang-una, walang basis for that hospital detention or arrest. Pangalawa, naaabuso na yung ganyang move, tama na dapat, wala na dapat ganyan (First of all, there is now basis for hospital detention or arrest. Secondly, that move is being abused; that should be stopped)," she said. ( LEONARD D. POSTRADO and CZARINA NICOLE O. ONG)