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Palawan judge enters plea for Reyes duo

A PALAWAN court on Friday entered a not-guilty plea for former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, during their arraignment for the killing of broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega.

Handcuffed and wearing yellow detainee shirts and bulletproof vests, the Reyes brothers refused to enter a plea on the case before Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court Branch 52 Judge Angelo Arizala.

The members of the Ortega family turned emotional after meeting the accused for the first time in four years.

In January 2011 the people who supposedly were hired to kill Ortega pointed to the Reyes brothers as the masterminds. The brothers were arrested on Sept. 20 this year in Phuket, Thailand.

A pre-trial conference has been set for Dec. 3, where the major prosecution witness Rodolfo Edrad is expected to appear.

Edrad, once a bodyguard of former Marinduque Gov. Jose Antonio Carreon, admitted to putting together the hit team and allegedly on Joel Reyes’ orders.

Mika Ortega, daughter of the slain broadcaster, said in an earlier interview that they were painfully aware that their fight for justice would be a long one.

“The family knows that the Reyes brothers will do everything to avoid going to jail,” she said. The Reyes brothers are detained at the Palawan city jail but have petitioned to be transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation.

Arizala said he will decide on the petition in 10 days.

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