CA maintains ruling clearing ex-mayor of involvement in Gerry Ortega murder


MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals maintained its 2012 ruling nullifying the body that created to investigate the involvement of former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes in the death of broadcaster Gerry Ortega and reinstating the ruling of the first panel finding no probable cause to charge him with murder.

In a decision promulgated April 4 but made public Wednesday, the appeals court former special fifth division through Associate Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba said they could not find any reason to reverse their Nov. 23, 2012 decision.

The Court of Appeals building in Ermita, Manila. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/COURT OF APPEALS WEBSITE

The appeals court, in its 2012 ruling, said Justice Secretary Leila De Lima committed grave abuse of discretion when she created the second panel of investigators through Department Order 710 despite the existence of a first panel that recommended the dismissal of murder case against Mario Reyes and his brother former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes.

On June 8, 2011, the first panel of prosecutors dismissed for insufficiency of evidence the murder complaint against the Reyes brothers. Patria Gloria Inocencio Ortega, wife of Gerry Ortega, sought a re-investigation of the case which was denied by the panel prompting her to file a petition for review before the Secretary of Justice.

In September 2011, De Lima issued DO 710 creating a new set of panel of prosecutors to re-investigate the case against the Reyes brothers. The panel ordered the brothers to submit counter-affidavits on the murder complaint against them. On March 20, 2012, the panel eventually filed the case before the court. The Palawan Regional Trial Court then issued a warrant for their arrest.

The government, through the Office of the Solicitor-General, appealed the decision but the appeals court junked it.

“We recognize the power of supervision and control of the Secretary of Justice over the prosecutors…We only emphasize that the power of the Secretary of Justice is neither unbridled nor boundless,” the appeals court said pointing that it is limited by the constitutional rights of the accused, Rules of Court, DOJ Circular or the 2000 National Prosecution Service Rules on Appeal and the Prosecution Service Act of 2010.

“We agree as we reiterate that the Secretary of Justice has the authority to create a panel to conduct an investigation. Thus, she has the authority to create the D.O. [Department Order 710] panel. The creation of the panel per se is adjunct to the exercise by the Secretary of Justice of her function. But when the Secretary of Justice created DO 710 without regard to existing rules, she has gone astray,” the appeals court said.

However, the appeals court said they cannot nullify the proceedings already pending with the Palawan court. It pointed that what was raised before them is whether the Secretary of Justice erred when she created the second panel of investigators.

The Court said it is up to the lower court to affirm or dismiss the findings of probable cause against Reyes.

Another division of the appeals court also ruled in favor of Reyes’ brother, the former governor. The DOJ has yet to file an appeal on the ruling.

The Reyes brothers are two of the five most wanted men in the country with a P2-million reward for their arrest.

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  • sigena

    dapat si de lima ang ikulong sa babuyan

  • Horst Manure

    DOJ Department of Jokes

  • kapayapaan_1900

    The intent of the law is to prosecute the guilty and provide justice to the victim. It looks like the Reyeses brothers, who fled the country and continue hiding to avoid prosecution, are the victims and the dead Ortega, the perpetrator of the crime. I can’t understand the law!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • speaksoftlylove

    This case is a clear additional proof of Delima’s abuse of power as DOJ Sec. clearly and profoundly expressed by the CA in it’s decision thus, “Delima committed grave abuse of discretion” amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction.

    This is an additional proof of Delima’s ineptness, incompetence, or deliberate abuse of her power as DOJ Sec. By the way, wasn’t Delima complaining during Corona’s time that the Supreme Court was too slow in performing it’s duty of rendering decisions? So what happened to the simple administrative cases of disbarment against Delima and Lacierda? Why are they not urging the Supreme Court to come up with its decision as soon as possible? Is the Supreme Court still too lazy? Why o why Delima and Lacierda? Pray tell us.

    • PinoyPinoyako

      Hold your fire mate, you are obviously one of the paid underlings of the Reyes brothers. ..the truth about this case is that we have a gunman who was unlucky enough to be caught after committing the crime. This guy then spilled the beans and we all know that the other people involved were apprehend ed also. One of these directly linked the Reyes brothers. So before you misfire, please look at the facts of this case.

  • boybakal

    Respect the law by respecting the decision.
    Tama na ang hirit.

  • Ryan Tandoc

    Thumbs up for CA for standing
    their ground in their decision with principles against the constant pressure
    hurdled against them by De Lima who is using the media to pursue her broad
    authority against her co-lawyers. The Court of Appeals amazed me very much but
    you must hold on against further attacks and pressures by De Lima.

  • Dave San Jose

    Calling Judge Dimagiba, your surname
    alone makes me confident and secure that you are firm with your principles and your decision is clear and irrevocable
    together with your co-judges who affirmed your findings, but how you are giving
    permission to the lower court in which the real masterminds have access to
    affirm or dismiss the findings of probable cause against the brothers whom I’m
    sure was the victim of this black propaganda. I hope DIMAGIBA or DI MAG IBA ang
    inyong desisyon. Totally quash the complaint and stick on your findings.

  • Janet Gener

    What’s the use of the CA’s firm decision
    and their two (2) findings of insufficiency of evidence against the Reyeses
    when they were helpless right now in totally dismissing the murder allegations
    as well as they already admitted that
    they cannot nullify the court proceedings in the Regional Trial Court of
    Palawan? Are they afraid in the influence of De Lima? The CA knew that De Lima
    created the second panel without regard to existing rules that indicted the
    Reyeses with additional evidences in contrast with their findings of
    insufficiency of evidence? There is chaos in this situation. Finalize it please.

  • Arnold Tindeg

    Magbastusan na lang kayo CA at
    DOJ tutal hindi naman kayo magkasundo. CA, binastos kayo ni De Lima sa paglikha
    niya ng ikalawang panel na bumastos sa findings ng 5th at 10th
    special division ninyo na walang ebidensiya sa Reyes brothers sa bintang na
    pagpatay kaya CA bastusin na rin ninyo si De Lima at I Quash na ninyo ang
    murder charges na isinampa ng panel ni De lima. Tutal CA dalawang panel naman kayo
    at isang panel lang ang mga alipores ni De Lima. Mas may tiwala naman kami sa desisyon
    ng CA kesa sa Parokya ni De Lima.

  • Zeny David

    Justice here in our country
    really sucks! If you are in the position, then you have the edge and can twist
    any decisions and principles in your hand. What will happen to this reigning
    DOJ Sec if she is not in the position anymore and without palace support? I thinks
    it’s her personal ( if not maybe financial) feud with the brothers that’s why
    she is doing this.

  • Imelda Mabini

    It was an excellent move on the
    part of De Lima who utilized her 101% effort to indict 2 innocent people even
    though the CA already nullified for insufficiency of evidence and cannot found
    probable cause against the alleged murderers. She really created and insisted
    her 2nd panel even though it’s against the Rules of Court to create
    another set of panel while an existing panel is still doing an investigation to
    find probable cause. De Lima already knew that once her panel file a case in a
    lower court, CA has no power to intervene with it, making her the victor. Cunning
    move but obviously lutong makaw.

  • Merriam Paez

    It is better for the brothers to
    hide than to face a justice queen that has her own definition of justice. Hide
    against the personal wrath of De Lima who are totally focused and determined to
    incarcerate or maybe to silence them. She teamed-up with the logger and the
    killer hoodlum to make her dreams come true with a vengeance. If you’re going
    to analyze deeper, there’s something personal here and the court decision drama
    is just a front of their personal interest against the innocent brothers.

  • John Abela

    Hey! What about the status of
    other fugitives like Palparan and Ecleo Jr? The DOJ and the DILG had gone
    silent so far against these two fugitives who allegedly killed more than one
    person based on television reports and I will not be surprised if De Lima will
    dismiss their pending cases. She was totally focused on the Reyes brothers whom
    the Court of Appeals already released their statement that they really found no
    sufficient evidence in their two investigations to indict murder charges
    against the Reyes brothers. How much is the cost of De Lima’s silence?

  • Jose Manuel Cruz

    That’s another strike for De Lima, and still the administration is holding on to her, which leaves people to wonder, what has De Lima got on her bag of tricks to warrant the fear of the administration on sanctioning her. She may be a good lawyer, but the law is the law and the CA has found her once in contempt and another on misusing her “broad authority”.

    And more so, De Lima is clearly taking this case to heart and judging based on personal, rather than professional, motives. If it’s otherwise, she would broaden her list of suspects and not use her entire power on prosecuting innocent men.

  • Victor Magallanes

    “We agree as we reiterate that the Secretary of Justice has the authority to create a panel to conduct an investigation. Thus, she has the authority to create the D.O. [Department Order 710] panel. The creation of the panel per se is adjunct to the exercise by the Secretary of Justice of her function. But when the Secretary of Justice created DO 710 without regard to existing rules, she has gone astray,”- it is really not difficult to understand. Yet, de Lima refuses to understand. Time to let go?

  • Mitch Ilano

    “But when the Secretary of Justice created DO 710 without regard to existing rules, she has gone astray,” – that’s the CA pretty much saying that the DOJ Secretary abused her power. God knows what De Lima will do next as her employers will not just sit down and watch the Reyes brothers go free.

  • Philip Vera Cruz

    The CA has voided the findings of the second DOJ panel. That says it all. Illegal panel ergo, illegal findings. Only a moron would not understand this.

  • Philip Vera Cruz

    Government would most definitely not give in easily on this, as it has publicly declared the Reyes brothers as criminals and fugitives of the law. So it will pursue this case to the gates of hell if it has to. And it will use and abuse Leila de Lima to the fullest.

    But De Lima is in a quandary and she has to make an impression to her present boss that she is not being paid by other politicians from Palawan.

  • Celia Nacor

    Sometimes our government is not fair and square when it comes in making decisions and always mixed it up with their personal and financial interests. In theory, the 3 branches of our government is co-equal except on this case in which the Executive and Judiciary (CA excluded) connived in totally exterminating the Reyes brothers even there is no probable cause to indict them.

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