CA asked to bar DOJ from acting on Ortega murder caseBy Tetch Torres-Tupas
MANILA, Philippines–Lawyers of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes asked the Court of Appeals to stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) from acting on the murder case of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega.
In a petition for certiorari and prohibition filed with the Court of Appeals, a copy of which was sent to reporters Sunday, Reyes through counsel said the DOJ is bent on finding a way to prosecute Reyes despite the appeals court ruling.
The appeals court, in two other related cases, has twice rebuked the Office of the Secretary of Justice for issuing Department Order 710 which created a second panel of investigators to handle new discovered evidence in the Ortega killing. The second panel recommended that the former governor and his brother Coron Mayor Mario Reyes be prosecuted for murder.
The appeals court, however, rebuked the second panel and affirmed the ruling of the first panel that dismisses the case against the brothers.
“The Office of the Secretary of Justice, however, remains obstinate and is set to find a way around the obstacles arising from the Honorable Court’s twin decisions. In an obvious legal maneuver to frustrate and defeat the finding that there is no probable cause against Petitioner, Secretary Leila de Lima has declared that Patty Ortega’s appeal from the resolution of the initial preliminary investigation will be reviewed and resolved as a matter of course. This, they will do even as Secretary de Lima insists on the validity of Department Order No. 710 and the resolution of the reinvestigation in their pending motions for reconsideration before the Honorable Court,” the petition stated.
Custodio, in seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) against De Lima, pointed out that the secretary of justice is persecuting the Reyeses, who had been her client while she was still in private practice.
Reyes previously filed a Motion to Inhibit last April 2, 2013, asking De Lima to recuse herself and to order the recusal of others who may act on her behalf, including her undersecretaries, from acting on all petitions for review or appeals filed by the parties.
The defense argued that “the Secretary has lost the cold neutrality of an impartial judge and has even demonstrated her unmitigated desire to prosecute petitioner (Reyes) in complete disregard of the latter’s due process rights.”
Earlier, De Lima said “her office is readying a contingency plan – resolution of the pending petition for review filed with her office by the Ortega family,” which “would be conducted by one of her undersecretaries.”