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DOJ still to confirm Palawan ex-Gov. Reyes fled to Vietnam

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is yet to confirm if murder suspect and former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes has indeed fled to Vietnam.   Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday told reporters her office has indeed received "initial reports" that Reyes and his brother Mario slipped out of the country last March 18 on board Cebu Pacific flight 5J 751.   Reyes, who is wanted for murder, supposedly, used a fake passport with the name "Joseph Lim Pe." The passport was reportedly issued last Feb. 3.   "Wala pang confirmation. Ido-double check pa namin iyan. We would like to make an announcement on that kapag sigurado na," De Lima said.   De Lima said she talked to Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo on Thursday about President Benigno Aquino III's latest directive raising the reward for the "Big Six Fugitives," Reyes among them.   With Reyes on the list are former general Jovito Palparan, Globe Asiatique developer Delfin Lee, Dinagat Representative Ruben Ecleo, and New People’s Army leaders Benito Tiamzon and Jorge Madlos.   The issue of reward money was raised after Rolito Go, the convicted road rage murderer, disappeared last Tuesday. He claimed he was kidnapped by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation   Reyes – the subject of a "lookout bulletin order" – is wanted for the murder of Palawan-based environmentalist and broadcaster Gerardo "Gerry" Ortega, 47, in Puerto Princesa early last year.   The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) are criticizing this latest development in the case of Reyes.   "The IFJ implores President Benigno Aquino III to immediately order a thorough and independent investigation and break the cycle of violence and impunity that has plagued the country for so long," said IFJ Asia-Pacific director Jacquline Park.   In March, the Department of Justice ordered that murder charges be filed against Reyes and four others for the murder of Ortega, a staunch critic of mining activities in Palawan.   Weeks later, the government declared Reyes a fugitive. Repeated attempts to serve his arrest warrant were in vain.   "If reports are correct, Reyes left the country just one week before the Palawan regional trial court issued a warrant for his arrest, raising concerns that Reyes was informed of the government’s intentions and was assisted in acquiring a false passport," the IFJ said.   The group noted it gave President Aquino an "Action Plan," after he was inaugurated to the presidency in 2010, urging government to stop the culture of impunity in the Philippines.   Ortega's wife, Patria, is insisting Reyes is responsible for the murder of her husband.   Marilyn Reyes-Africa, the former governor’s older sister, is claiming his brother is a victim of "political persecution" in an attempt to prevent their family from dominating local politics in the province. — VS, GMA News