DOJ on Ortega case: Far from overBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima on Tuesday vowed she would go as far as the Supreme Court to stand by the justice department’s decision to file charges against former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, for the 2011 murder of Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega.
De Lima made the statement as she dismissed as “premature” the bid of the lawyers of the Reyeses to have their arrest warrants and hold-departure orders lifted by the Palawan court trying their murder cases following two separate rulings of the Court of Appeals (CA) that quashed De Lima’s decision to form a second panel that recommended the filing of murder cases against the Reyes brothers.
She said she was certain that state prosecutors will oppose this move by the Reyeses’ lawyers considering that the March 19 decision of the CA Special 10th Division, which voted 3-2 to nullify her creation of a second Department of Justice (DOJ) panel that found probable cause to indict the Reyeses for Ortega’s murder, was not yet final and executory.
De Lima reiterated that the Office of the Solicitor General will file a motion for reconsideration (MR) of that CA ruling that also upheld the order of the first DOJ panel clearing the brothers in the murder of Ortega.
“If that MR will be denied, then we still have the right to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court,” she told reporters.
De Lima made it clear that, “definitely,” she will exhaust all legal remedies in the Ortega case because otherwise “it will affect future cases.”
Only five months ago, the DOJ filed a motion for reconsideration, this time on the November 2012 order of the CA Special Fifth Division that nullified the second DOJ panel and upheld the first DOJ panel clearing the Reyeses.
The Reyes brothers, who went into hiding shortly before arrest warrants were issued against them arising from the murder complaint, have filed separate petitions at the appellate court.
They have questioned the second DOJ body that De Lima created on Sept. 7, 2011, through Department Order No. 710, to conduct a reinvestigation of the murder case after the first DOJ panel cleared the brothers on June 8, 2011.
Yesterday, De Lima said the two CA rulings would have “dire consequences on the authority of the secretary of justice.”
She maintained that there will be a time that the justice secretary would have to intervene especially on cases where there would be a miscarriage of justice.
“If the powers of the justice secretary would be clipped, how would the justice secretary be able to serve better?” she said.