Contrary to the claim of Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Former Palawan Governor Joel T. Reyes clarified that they surrendered to the Thailand authorities for violating the immigration law.
Joel Reyes said he knew that there are members of the Interpol and Thai authorities monitoring their movements in Phuket, Thailand. September 20 when he was about to buy medicine for his sick brother Mario, he was stopped on the road by a group whom he suspected as members of the Thai Royal Police. Police authorities asked him questions verifying his true name and the previous position he held in the Province of Palawan. He asked the police if they have a warrant of arrest and search warrant but the police authorities of Thailand said that they do not have those documents.
He then invited the Thai police authorities to the place where he and Mario are staying. The Thai authorities asked for their passport and later when they presented the expired passport, they surrendered themselves to authorities.
“Sinabi nila (Thai police) kailangan sumama kayo sa amin, sabi ko, we voluntarily submit ourselves to your jurisdiction,” the older Reyes said.
Earlier, PNP-CIDG said that the Reyes brothers used fake names for them to flee the country. But according to Joel, they did not change their name and they were able to reach Vietnam and Thailand using their true names.
“Original po ang passport namin, hindi po ito forged. It is the original passport under the name of Mario Joel T. Reyes,” Reyes pointed out.
Even the passport of Mario Reyes also bears the true name according to Joel Reyes.
The passports of Reyes brothers are in the hands of the PNP-CIDG.
PNP-CIDG says Reyes bros “arrested”, not “surrendered”
During the press conference at Camp Crame, Quezon City this morning,PNP-CIDG claimed that it was a case of arrest, not of voluntary surrender.
PNP Chief Supt. Victor Deona, during the press briefing and presentation of the suspects before the media following their arrival from Thailand, narrated the events which led to the arrest of the suspects.
He said that on September 8, the PNP received an email from an informant claiming that the Reyes brothers were in Daraway area south of Phuket, Thailand. The email, he added, contained an attachment of photos of the house supposedly being occupied by the brothers and the car they were using.
Deona said that since January 2015, they had been getting similar tips but without specifics on the suspects’ exact location in Thailand.
The breakthrough came when the Thai Royal Police, who they were coordinating with regarding the information, confirmed to them on September 18 that indeed the Reyes brothers were in the reported location.
When the Thai police sought the two brothers for questioning, they were asked for their passports upon which Joel Reyes offered a medical certificate with a different name while Mario showed his expired passport.
The brothers were then immediately arrested for immigration law violation in Thailand.
Deona said their arrest warrant in connection with the Ortega murder case were served to them upon arrival in the Philippines, 3:52 in the morning Friday.
Based on the presentation of Deona, the Reyes brothers lived in a “decent” house with an eco-sport car in Daraway, Phuket, Thailand.
Joel Reyes used “Johnny” as his alias while Mario had an alias of “Nikki.”
Earlier reports quoting Thai authorities said that the suspects have built a fitness center in their neighborhood. Deona did not give details on the kind of lifestyle the suspects maintained while in Thailand
The suspects arrived in the Philippines via Philippine Airlines, accompanied by a PNP-CIDG arresting team.
The Reyes brothers have been in hiding for almost four years since an arrest warrant for murder was issued on them by the Palawan Regional Trial Court Branch 52.
They were last reported to have fled the country via Vietnam using a Philippine passport with a different name.
Interior Secretary Mel Sarmiento described the arrest of the brothers “only an initial victory”.
“From here on we shall continue to support the other pillars of the law to ensure successful prosecution of the case,” he said.
Who will receive the reward?
Joel Reyes said that he have been thinking about surrendering while they were in Thailand however, he fears for their safety.
“Ako po’y matagal nang nag-iisip ng paraan para makauwi na hindi naman mapeligro ang buhay namin sapagkat alam naman ninyo na mayroong reward sa sinumang makahuli sa amin at naisip ko baka marami ang mangailangan baka sa salisihan kami. Pero matagal ko nang iniisip kung paano kami makakauwi,” Joel Reyes said.
According to Deona, they cannot pinpoint to whom the reward money will be given.
“ ay published reward for the arrest pero hindi po yan ang pinagtutunan namin ng pansin,” he said.