Fugitive Philippines governor ‘in Phuket’
PHUKET: Authorities in the Philippines believe that a fugitive governor of the province of Palawan, wanted for organising an assassination, may be in Phuket.
Thursday 13 September 2012, 03:37PM
The Philippine Star newspaper this morning quoted Immigration Chief Ricardo David Jr as saying that a man identified as Joseph Lim Pe – believed to be the alias of fugitive former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, 60 – is reportedly hiding in Phuket.
Reyes and his brother Mario, 51, the former Mayor of Coron in Palawan, are wanted for ordering the assassination in January last year of pro-environment and anti-corruption campaigner Gerry Ortega, gunned down in Palawan.
Mr Ortega made enemies among the rich and powerful in the Philippines, particularly through his radio programmes and for organising a mass campaign to block mining companies from Palawan.
The brothers fled the Philippines in March, passing through Ninoy Aquino Airport in Manila with the help of two Immigration officials (who have since been suspended) and flying out to Vietnam.
The Star added: “David said that the bureau received information that ‘Lim Pe’ left Manila on March 18 and spent a few days in Vietnam before proceeding to Phuket. It is not clear whether Mario Reyes came with him.
“[Lim Pe] left Thailand only once, went to Malaysia, but returned and has been staying in Thailand.
“As far as [Philippines] Immigration is concerned he is in Phuket. He left once and went to Malaysia but he went back to Phuket.”
Mr David said that officials were about 70 per cent sure that Joel Reyes and Joseph Lim Pe are the same person.
“On the passport you would not see Joel Reyes because he is not using that name,” he told the Star. “Joseph Lim Pe went to Vietnam. The confirmation is in the picture. I … am about 70 per cent confident that he is Joel Reyes from the picture,” he added.
An official at the Philippine Embassy In Bangkok confirmed having been notified by Manila of Joel Reyes’ possible presence in Thailand. He said that he had notified Lt Gen Viboon Bangtamai, Commissioner of Thai Immigration.
Pol Col Panuwat Ruamrak, Superintendent of Phuket Immigration told The Phuket News he had yet to receive an alert about Joel Reyes.