(Lead) CA nullifies murder case vs. Reyes brothers

November 27, 2012 11:33 pm 

By Perfecto Raymundo

MANILA, Nov. 27 — The Court of Appeals has nullified the panel created to investigate the involvement of former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, Coron, Palawan Mayor Mario Reyes to the death of broadcaster Gerry Ortega and set aside its ruling finding probable cause to charge the two with murder.

Acting on the petition filed by Mario Reyes, the CA's Special 5th Division, through Associate Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba, said Justice Secretary Leila De Lima committed grave abuse of discretion when she created the second panel of investigators through Dept. Order 710 despite the existence of a first panel that recommended the dismissal of murder case against the Reyes brothers.

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 Dept. 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 Reyes brothers to submit counter-affidavits on the murder complaint against them.

On March 20, 2012, the panel eventually filed the case before the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court.

The Puerto Princesa City RTC then issued a warrant for their arrest.

The Reyes brothers filed separate petitions before the CA assailing the creation of the second DOJ panel and issuing a resolution charging them with murder.

In its ruling, the CA said that De Lima created the second panel without modifying the findings of the first panel which is in violation of the Rules of Court.

The CA said that they recognize the power of the Justice Secretary to re-investigate a case if it deems necessary but the reinvestigation shall be conducted by the original investigator designated to handle the case "unless for compelling reason, another prosecutor is designated to conduct the same."

In this case, however, the CA said that they could not find any compelling reason to create a second panel.

The CA said the second panel modified the findings of the first panel, a power vested solely on the Secretary of Justice.

"It behooves upon the Secretary of Justice to adhere to the Rules of Procedure the DOJ promulgated for orderly and effective administration of justice otherwise the vast power of the Secretary of Justice would be susceptible of abuse. Scary! With all its resources it behooves upon the State to balance the scales in what would otherwise be an uneven contest between an individual versus the State," the CA said. (PNA)



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