After three years on the run, the once powerful Reyes brothers, two of the Philippines’ high profile fugitives, were arrested on Sunday, September 20, by the police in Phuket, Thailand.
Philippine Embassy in Thailand confirmed that former Palawan Governor Joel T. Reyes and his brother Mario, former mayor of Coron town, were arrested and held by immigration authorities for overstaying. Both have a P2 million reward for their arrest.
Thailand has implemented stricter rules and visa procedures after reports surfaced saying that the Bangkok bombing suspects bribed a Thai-Cambodian border to enter the country.
The Reyes brothers had long been wanted for the slay of Palawan environmentalist and journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega, a hard-hitting broadcaster and a known environmental crusader in Palawan who was shot dead on Jan. 24, 2011 along the downtown area in the city.
The assassin, Marlon Recamata, which was nabbed confessed to the crime at the Puerto Princesa police and cooperated with the police which resulted to the arrest of several other suspects who pointed to the Reyes brothers as the assassination masterminds.
They then fled the country sometime in March 2012 several months after they were indicted by the Department of Justice in the Ortega murder and an arrest warrant was issued against them by the Palawan Regional Trial Court.
A source from the Task Force Usig, the tracker group assigned to catch big fugitives, said it is now coordinating with the Thai police who are holding the brothers for eventual deportation, reported Inquirer.net.
It also reported that another source said the PNP’s Task Force Tugis went to Thailand last year to look for the Reyes brothers.
Meanwhile, the Ortega family had been officially informed by authorities on the arrest. Mica, Ortega’s daughter, said on a radio interview that the family was initially “stunned” and could not believe the news. She added that they felt relief that justice could continue with the trial of the alleged masterminds.