Lawyer in Reyes brothers’ escape faces disbarment suitBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The family of slain broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega filed disbarment complaint against a lawyer who allegedly accompanied former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes out of the country last March.
In a 14-page complaint-affidavit filed Wednesday before the Supreme Court’s Office of the Bar Confidant, Michaella Angeli Ortega, daughter of the victim Gerry Ortega said lawyer Hermie S. Aban violated the Rules of Court and the Code of Professional Responsibility for withholding information about the whereabouts of Reyes and his brother Coron Mayor Mario Reyes Jr.
“It is apparent that Atty. Hermie S. Aban knowingly withheld information on the whereabouts of the Reyes brothers, Palawan ex-Governor Mario Joel T. Reyes and Coron Mayor Mario T. Reyes, from the Hon. Presiding Judge of the Puerto Princesa City, Palawan Regional Trial Court Branch 52. This is despite the Warrants of Arrest and the Hold Departure Orders issued by the said court against the Reyes brothers,” Ortega said.
The Reyes brothers and several others are facing a case for murder for Ortega’s death.
On April 26, 2012, Aban entered his appearance in court as the legal counsel of co-accused Arturo “Nonoy” Regalado.
Sources from the Immigration Department said the Reyes brothers managed to sneak out of the country last March 18, 2012 aboard Cebu Pacific Flight 5j751 bound for Vietnam along with Aban. The former Palawan governor used a passport with the name Joseph Lim Pe. The passport was issued only last February 3, 2012.
The Bureau of Immigration already confirmed that a Joseph Lim Pe left the country for Vietnam on March 18, 2012 but cannot confirm if it was Reyes because no CCTV was installed at the Immigration counter.
Ortega’s daughter said the Vietnam Immigration Office already confirmed that Aban arrived in Vietnam at the same time and date as the Reyes brothers landed in that country.
“As aptly stated in the complaint: “This is not only a gross violation of his oath as a lawyer, but also a clear act of obstruction of justice. That Atty. Hermie S. Aban assisted in the escape of the Reyes brothers as they evade arrest is unacceptable. That he, being an Attorney at Law, knowingly and willfully concealed such knowledge is doubly unacceptable.
“We cannot afford for such a lawyer to continue the practice of law if he has shown that he does not hold an ounce of respect for our laws and our courts. It is when those bound to uphold the law blatantly ignore the law that lawlessness and injustice permeate our society. It is the firm belief of our family that Atty. Hermie S. Aban should be held accountable to his conscious actions and should be punished accordingly,” Ortega said.