Palace to ap­peal rul­ing that cleared ex-gov­er­nor of broad­caster's mur­der

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Tops Stories -

THE Philip­pine govern­ment will ex­haust le­gal reme­dies to over­turn the Court of Ap­peals' de­ci­sion that ab­solved for­mer Palawan gov­er­nor Mario Joel Reyes of li­a­bil­ity in the 2011 mur­der of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist broad­cast er Gerry Ortega, Mala­cañang said on Mon­day, Jan­uary 8.

Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Harry Roque Jr. said he would meet with So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Jose Cal­ida and Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Vi­tal­iano Aguirre II this week to dis­cuss the ex­ec­u­tive depart­ment's plan to file a motion for re­con­sid­er­a­tion af­ter the ap­pel­late court or­dered the re­lease of Reyes, who was ac­cused of killing Ortega.

"We have got­ten a de­ci­sion from the Re­gional Trial Court that the ev­i­dence that against for­mer gov­er­nor Joel Reyes is strong, which prompted the court to dis­miss the pe­ti­tion of bail. We will ex­er­cise all le­gal op­tions to re­verse this de­ci­sion of the Court of Ap­peals," Roque, who served as le­gal coun­sel of Ortega fam­ily, told Palace re­porters.

"Be­cause of my awk­ward po­si­tion, I can say that I think the govern­ment will ex­haust all reme­dies, in­clud­ing fil­ing first a motion for re­con­sid­er­a­tion," he added.

In a 24-page rul­ing, the Court of Ap­peals or­dered to nul­lify the ar­rest or­der is­sued by Puerto Princesa Re­gional Trial Court Branch 52 against Reyes, not­ing that there was lack of ev­i­dence

to prove the for­mer Palawan gov­er­nor’s sup­posed in­volve­ment in Ortega’s slay.

Ortega, an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist and ra­dio host who fre­quently ac­cused Reyes of cor­rup­tion, was gunned down in Palawan on Jan­uary 24, 2011.

Reyes and his brother, for­mer Coron town mayor Mario Reyes, were im­pli­cated in Ortega’s death. They were ar­rested in 2015 in Thai­land but Mario was granted bail in May.

For Roque, the CA’s rul­ing on Ortega’s case was “alarm­ing” and a “trav­esty of jus­tice” as he noted that there was a “strong” ev­i­dence against Reyes.

Roque said the ap­pel­late court’s de­ci­sion was a “very sad” de­vel­op­ment for the free­dom of the press in the coun­try, stress­ing that Ortega’s killing was “a clas­sic case of ex­trale­gal killing.”

“As for­mer pri­vate pros­e­cu­tor in the case, I only left the case June 30, 2016, when I took my oath as mem­ber of the 17th Con­gress. At that time, we have con­cluded pre­sen­ta­tion of all ev­i­dence for the pros­e­cu­tion, and the de­fense had al­ready con­cluded its pre­sen­ta­tion of ev­i­dence, and there was al­ready a de­ci­sion of the lower court that ev­i­dence of guilt was strong against for­mer Gov­er­nor Joel Reyes,”

“So I find it alarm­ing that this CA de­ci­sion, num­ber one, over­ruled an ear­lier Supreme Court de­ci­sion; and num­ber two, ar­ro­gated its own judg­ment for that of the Re­gional Trial Court that had the op­por­tu­nity to phys­i­cally ac­cept the ev­i­dence, ob­serve the de­meanor of the wit­nesses, and con­cluded that there was, in fact, prob­a­ble cause,” he added. Sun­Star Philip­pines

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