Ex-gov, mayor brod couldn't escape under jury system

Ex-gov, mayor brod couldn't 
escape under jury system

Mario Joel T. Reyes

Author of the book "Simplified Law on Libel in the Philippines"

If the Philippines were under the jury system of justice, it would be too difficult for ex-governor Mario Joel T. Reyes of Palawan and his brother Mario T. Reyes Jr., mayor of Coron, Palawan, to escape trial for the murder committed against broadcaster Dr. Gerry "Doc Gerry" Ortega on January 24, 2011 at an ukay-ukay store in Puerto Princesa City.

For sure, arrest and trial can be had immediately and completed in less than a year. 

This is so because of the inclusion of the grand jury in the jury system being proposed by Hukuman ng Mamamayan Movement Inc. (HMMI), where its president is Berteni "Toto" Cataluña Causing.

Under the proposed grand jury system, which acts as the one that shall determine who should be charged in court for crimes, anybody who has witnessed a crime is obliged to report the happening of one. If he failed and somebody saw him having witnessed the happening of a crime or having some knowledge of facts related to a crime, he can be indicted by the grand jury for obstruction of justice and punished accordingly.

Dr. Gerry "Doc Gerry" Ortega
The proposed grand jury system accepts anonymous tips identifying criminals or witnesses to crimes. 

So that if a person knows of a falsification of passports, that person is obliged by law to report the same to the grand jury. And if he failed, somebody who may have known him to have been involved in some parts of the whole crime may report him to the grand jury that can initiate on its own a preliminary investigation ordering law enforcers to conduct discreet investigation and report to it every hour the developments of the investigation.  The lawmen tasked cannot refuse because they can be placed outright in a preventive suspension while being investigated.

Once witnesses are identified, they cannot refuse even if their reason is danger to their lives because they will be punished by the grand jury if they refuse.  The doctrine against self-incrimination cannot apply because the witness will only testify on matters he saw and heard and it is presumed he did not take part  in the crime.  After all, it is the act of not appearing before the grand jury that is punished and the one who believes there would be self-incrimination if he he testifies can tell the grand jury to excuse himself on matters that are incriminating.

In the case of the escape of the Reyes brothers, there will always be somebody who would know in the faking of the passports as what the Reyes brothers did. That somebody must have also been known by others to have knowledge about faking of travel documents.

Additionally, the preliminary investigation process in jury system is quick and the trial is continuous like the recent impeachment trial of Renato C. Corona so that it assures that the witnesses are presented immediately to avoid the risk of witnesses getting killed or unable to testify due to death by reasons of illness as what happened to Percival Lecias, a suspect-witness in the murder plot that led to the death of broadcaster Ortega.

 In the case of the two Reyeses, they managed to slip out and this prompted a daughter of Ortega to file a complaint for faking of passport against the former governor.

The press statement sent out by the daughter, Michaella Ortega, is posted below:

September 11, 2012
Ortega Family Files Complaint VS Ex-Governor Joel Reyes for Violation of Passport Act
As part of our quest for justice and in order to see to it that the guilty are held accountable to their crimes, our family--with myself as the complainant--is filing a complaint against the former Palawan Governor Mario Joel T. Reyes for his "Violation of Republic Act No. 8239 otherwise known as the Philippine Passport Act of 1996.
We are basing our complaint on the reliable information that the ex-Governor has slipped out of the country on March 18, 2012, on board Cebu Pacific Flight 5J751 bound for Vietnam, using a passport under the name of Joseph Lim Pe. This is also reflected on a Cebu Pacific Passenger Manifest and confirmed by the Vietnam Immigration Office. 
The alleged tampering of the passport was further confirmed by Asst. Secretary Jaime Victor B. Ledda, Office of Consular Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs who, in a letter dated August 30, 2012, stated that: "This passport, reportedly used by former Governor Reyes, was apparently tampered with replacing the data page of the passport with another data page containing the photograph of the ex-governor with a different signature, but retaining the name and other passport details of Mr. Pe."
The ex-Governor has done nothing but to consistently display his outright disrespect and disregard for our laws and our courts. He slipped out of the country despite murder charges filed against him and his brother by the Department of Justice on March 12. In addition to this, they escaped despite their inclusion to the Lookout Bulletin issued by the Office of Secretary Leila De Lima on March 13.

It is quite apparent that his intent was to evade arrest so as not to face the allegations made against him in the court of law where perhaps he may be unable to prove his claimed innocence. It is also clear that he will resort to doing anything just to keep from going to trial. The ex-Governor evidently is not above involving himself with illegalities, something that my father kept reiterating to the public.

Therefore, knowing the character and the tendency of the Reyes brothers, we continue to call on the Court of Appeals to deny the petitions by the Reyes brothers who have done nothing but further convince us that they indeed had a hand in the murder of my father, Doc Gerry Ortega.

Michaella Ortega
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