CA affirms decision clearing suspect in Ortega slay-A A +A
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
MANILA -- Fugitive ex-Palawan governor Joel Reyes scored another victory in the Court of Appeals (CA) after the tribunal stood by its ruling that junked the Department of Justice resolution finding him liable for the death of environmentalist Gerry Ortega.
In a six-page resolution, the CA Special 10th Division of Five said the DOJ's motion for reconsideration to the April 1 decision lacked merit.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, in a text message on Tuesday, gave assurances the government will elevate to the Supreme Court (SC) the ruling of the CA upholding its earlier ruling exonerating Reyes from the murder of broadcaster and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega.
De Lima did not state when the government would file the appeal.
The appellate court assailed De Lima for constituting a second panel of prosecutors to look into the complaint filed by Ortega's wife Patria even if the first resolution was still under appeal. The first resolution, which was prepared by another group of fiscals, cleared Reyes and his brother, former Coron, Palawan mayor Joel Reyes, of murder.
Reyes' lawyer Ferdinand Topacio welcomed the CA's affirmation, saying "the truth cannot be hidden for long."
“While we celebrate this triumph of justice and the Constitution, we are saddened by the realization that under the present dispensation, the Department of Justice is being used as a blunt instrument to persecute those who are not allied with the current administration by the use of highly irregular procedures designed to secure the imprisonment of those it targets for elimination," he said.
Ortega's camp, however, was unfazed.
In a text message, lawyer Alex Avisado said the Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court branch 52 refused to recall on August 29 the arrest warrants against the Reyes brothers in light of the CA decision last April.
"The Court affirmed its order dated March 27, 2012 finding probable cause and ordering the arrest of ex-Governor Joel Reyes and ex-Mayor Mario Reyes. The warrants of arrest therefore stays despite the CA decision," he said.
Avisado said the decision of the CA was based on "technicality." He said they will take the case up to the SC.
He also said they are more determined now that the corruption in the use of the Malampaya Fund has been disclosed, which was also exposed then by Ortega.
He added it will be unfair if the former governor and his brother will not be held liable.
The Ortega camp said that in the final analysis, justice can only be served to upright people.
Ortega was slain on January 24, 2011 while shopping in a used clothes store in Puerto Princesa City. He was allegedly silenced for his radio commentaries about the Reyes' supposed misuse of the share of the Provincial Government in the proceeds from the operation of the Malampaya natural gas plant off Palawan.
The Justice department is now preparing cases against businesswoman Janet Napoles and her cohorts for allegedly using fake non-government organizations to siphon Malampaya funds in 2009.
"Now that it has been shown that Doc Gerry Ortega was killed because of his expose on the plunder of Malampaya funds, it would be a travesty and an injustice to let the masterminds (Reyes brothers) go free. We still believe that in the end, justice will only be for the deserving," said Avisado. (Virgil Lopez/PNA/Sunnex)