Palace to exhaust all legal remedies to reverse CA decision junking case vs ex-Palawan governor
The Duterte administration will exhaust all legal remedies to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals finding no probable cause to indict former Palawan governor Mario Joel Reyes, who allegedly masterminded the killing of an environmentalist in the province in 2011.
In a press briefing on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said contrary to the CA's decision, the Regional Trial Court in Puerto Princesa City found the evidence against Reyes as strong, prompting the lower court to dismiss the petition for bail.
"We will exercise all legal options to resolve the decision of the Court of Appeals," he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the Office of the Solicitor General will have to determine if Reyes is off the hook.
"The filing of an appeal depends on the CA ruling - if it will constitute double jeopardy," Aguirre said, referring to a legal doctrine that prohibits filing of the same criminal case against the same accused cleared by court.
Roque, who used to be the legal counsel of the family of slain Dr. Gerardo Ortega, said in his personal capacity, he found the CA decision as "alarming" and a "travesty of justice."
“I think the government will exhaust all remedies including the filing first of a motion for reconsideration having said that there was a prior Supreme Court (SC) decision that it is up to the Regional Trial Court to determine the existence of probable cause, which was already determined,” he said, adding that he will personally talk with Solicitor General Jose Calida to discuss the CA ruling.
“I find it alarming that the 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 witnesses, and concluded that there was probable cause,” Roque added.
In a 24-page decision penned by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro, the Special Division of the appellate court found "no evidence" to indict Reyes of the murder charge.
The CA found "inconsistencies" and "contradictions" on the statements of the witnesses, particularly Rodolfo Edrad, the self-confessed coordinator of the plan to kill Ortega.
Ortega, a radio commentator and critical of Reyes, was shot dead in San Pedro, Puerto Princesa City on Jan. 24, 2011.
Reyes was released last week from detention following the CA decision. Celerina Monte/DMS