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Hunt for Big 5 fugitives pushed

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima: On the hunt

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has ordered police and special so-called “cracker teams” to intensify the manhunt for the “Big Five” fugitives even as she admitted that the trail for the country’s most-wanted fugitives had grown cold.

“We must tell you it’s quite a challenge, it’s quite a challenge,” De Lima told a news conference that followed a meeting about the progress of the manhunt operations with officials of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigative and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police.

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President Aquino earlier directed police authorities to prioritize the search for retired General Jovito Palparan, former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, former Dinagat Island Representative Ruben Ecleo Jr. and Globe Asiatique developer Delfin Lee.

‘Negative’ for all 5

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De Lima said the operations of the tracker teams have so far been “negative” for all five fugitives.

Of the five, it was only the Reyes brothers—both wanted for the killing of environmentalist Gerry Ortega last year—who have been confirmed to have left the country, she said.

The Reyes brothers were reported to have gone to Vietnam, Thailand and, lately, Malaysia, she said.

She said the government had no information or confirmation that the Reyeses were in the United States as rumored, she said.

De Lima also asked the media to help in “maximizing the dissemination” of information as well as wanted posters and other flyers on the five fugitives, noting that people in remote areas were not aware of the manhunt operations.

Citizen cooperation is key

She said dissemination be made “as widely as possible” and include public places like markets, malls and even government offices.

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“I think what is key here, what is crucial is the cooperation of the citizenry,” she said.

De Lima said one of the proposals was to increase the current reward money of P2 million for each fugitive, which she has to study.

She said authorities were not discounting the possibility that the fugitives were just hiding in “metro areas” because it would be more difficult to hide in remote places where residents know their neighbors well and would be alarmed at seeing new faces.

They were also not discounting the possibility that certain groups or individuals were coddling the fugitives, De Lima said.

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TAGS: cracker teams, Crime, Delfin Lee, fugitives, Joel Reyes, Jovito Palparan, Leila de Lima, Mario Reyes, Ruben Ecleo Jr.
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