Reyeses’ backers warned

Malacañang warned Sunday that it will investigate and file appropriate charges against those giving special treatment to former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, who were recently arrested for the murder of environmentalist broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

“The Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government are looking into this matter and will take the necessary action, including the possible filing of appropriate cases against those involved,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in an interview over state-run dzRB.

“The Reyes brothers are in detention, hence, only the court where their case is pending [has authority over them]. As to the request for hospital arrest, Secretary [Leila] de Lima has stated the government’s opposition to any such motion,” said Coloma.

Earlier reports said that the Reyes brothers were being given special treatment while in detention, including being allowed to hold a news conference. They were also given their own detention cell separate from the other inmates.

The reports said there are witnesses who can testify about the preferential treatment given to the brothers.

Malacañang on Saturday said that the DoJ should strongly oppose the plan of the brothers to seek a transfer to a hospital.

“Secretary De Lima will have a strong position on that,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a separate interview.

The brothers had said that their lawyers will ask the courts to grant them hospital detention while undergoing trial.

The brothers were flown to Puerto Princesa City on Friday to face the murder charges filed against them for the killing of Ortega, but were flown back to Manila on the same day.

They were arrested by authorities in Thailand last Sunday.

Valte said the Reyes brothers lived like tourists while in hiding in Phuket, Thailand.

“Certainly, the prosecutors will have something to say about their proposed motion for hospital arrest, because everybody knows that before they were arrested, they were living like tourists in Thailand,” she added.

The Reyes brothers were tagged as masterminds in the murder of broadcast journalist Ortega in 2011.

Ortega, a prominent Palawan environment activist, had used his radio show to frequently accuse the Reyes brothers of massive graft.

The brothers went missing in early 2012 after an arrest warrant was issued for them.

The two had a P2-million bounty for their capture.

Ortega’s daughter, Michaella, said her family “did not expect this to happen” this week.

“It’s a welcome surprise,” Michaella said.

“The arrest of the long-wanted Reyes brothers provides an opportunity for pursuing justice. We acknowledge the efforts of Interpol and Thai authorities in making this possible,” Coloma said.

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