MANILA – The Court of Appeals defied the land’s highest tribunal when it ordered the release of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes over the murder of radio host and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Tuesday.
The CA last week ordered the Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) to nullify the finding of probable cause and the issuance of an arrest warrant against Reyes due to the “lack of evidence” linking him to death of Ortega, who had accused him of massive corruption.
The ruling defied the Supreme Court’s decision giving the Palawan RTC sole authority to determine the existence of probable cause, said Roque, who used to be legal counsel for Ortega’s family in their case against Reyes.
The CA, he added, naturally failed to find evidence against Reyes because the evidence was presented to the RTC.
“Ang punto rito, bakit ka manghihimasok sa desisyon ng Regional Trial Court? E iyung Regional Trial Court ang tumanggap ng ebidensya. Talagang wala kang makikitang ebidensya, Court of Appeals.
(The point here is why would you meddle with the RTC’s decision? The RTC received all evidence. The Court of Appeals would really find no evidence.)
Roque has said Malacañang will spearhead efforts to overturn the CA ruling.
He said he will meet with with the country’s top lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, later Tuesday to push for the filing of a motion for reconsideration.
Ortega was shot dead while shopping in the capital of Palawan, a popular tourist destination that has also suffered from illegal logging, mining and fishing.
He had accused Reyes of corruption linked to alleged environmental crimes on the island.
Reyes and his brother Mario, who was also implicated, went missing in 2012 after an arrest warrant was issued for them. They were caught in Thailand in 2015.
The former governor’s release came just days before the 7th death anniversary of Ortega.