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DoJ probes Mercado links to Palawan duo

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday ordered the officials of the Witness Protection Program to check the reports linking former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado to the hiding of former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, who are facing charges for the killing of broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

She gave  her order after the Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines led by Sandra Cam made the call to drop Mercado from the program as a result of the accusation against him.

Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s spokesman said Tuesday  Mercado should be the one charged in connection with the alleged P3-billion Boy Scouts of the Philippines-Alphaland deal and not Binay.

Rico Quicho said it was Mercado who made the arrangements and asked for a bribe from Alphaland.

“If there is somebody who should be charged for the Alphaland deal, it should be   ex-Vice Mayor Mercado,” Quicho said in a statement.

“It is clear that Mercado arranged the deal and asked money to approve the Alphaland deal.”

Mercado is under WPP coverage due to his testimony in the Senate over the corruption allegations against Binay and his family.

Mercado accuses the Binays of alleged   overpricing in the Makati City Hall Building II and the allegedly anomalous deals in the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, of which Binay is president.

“I’ve heard about it and I told WPP office to check if the allegation has basis. We cannot be acting on the basis of certain reports that are still unverified,” De Lima said.

“So, unless we see something concrete, unless and until we see something, concrete, then we cannot just take action on that.”

Cam earlier called on the Senate or the House of Representatives to look into the reports that Mercado communicated with the Reyes brothers while the two were in hiding in Thailand.

The Reyes brothers managed to leave the country in March 2012 before arrest warrants were issued against them by a Palawan court in connection with Ortega’s murder.

The Ortega family earlier asked De Lima to   resolve their pending petition for review seeking to reverse the dismissal of the murder complaint against the brothers.

De Lima earlier said she could not act on the petition for review because of her department’s pending petition before the Supreme Court seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals’ decision, which nullified the resolution issued by her department finding probable cause to charge the Reyes brothers with murder.



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