Reyes brothers decline to enter a plea
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines—Accused murder suspect and former Palawan Gov. Joel T. Reyes and his brother Mario declined to enter a plea during Friday’s arraignment at the Palawan Regional Trial Court, prompting the court to enter a “not guilty” plea for them.
The Reyes brothers’ defense counsel tried to secure a two-week postponement of the arraignment but was denied by Branch 52 presiding judge Angelo Arizala, citing a Supreme Court precedent ruling.
The suspects are currently detained at the Puerto Princesa City Jail.
The case pretrial conference was set for Dec. 3, with the prosecution presenting three witnesses including the main state witness Rodolfo Edrad Jr., alias Bumar. Edrad, a former aide of Reyes, was the self-confessed organizer of the murder plot of broadcast journalist Gerry Ortega and pointed to Reyes as having ordered and financed the killing.
Mario, the former mayor of Coron, Palawan, was accused as an accessory to the murder. He flew out of the country in early 2012 along with his elder brother to escape arrest after the case was filed.
The arraignment was held under tight security, with about 100 supporters of Ortega holding a picket outside.
The family of Ortega attended the arraignment and met the suspected masterminds for the first time since the murder of the broadcast journalist on Jan. 24, 2011.
“It was a very difficult moment for all of us. We hope we can finally find justice for my dad,” the victim’s eldest daughter Michaella said.
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