Calida slams CA ruling on Reyes: ‘It stinks’
Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday chewed out the special division of the Court of Appeals (CA) for absolving former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes in the murder of environmentalist and radio commentator Gerry Ortega.
“In this case, from the perspective of a reasonably discreet and prudent man, there is sufficient ground to order the arrest of Joel Reyes,” Calida said in a strongly worded statement.
The state’s primary lawyer did not mince words in lambasting the appeals court’s Jan. 4 ruling, which was written by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro, and warned that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) would look into how three of the five members of the special division arrived at the decision.
“As the people’s tribune, I cannot sustain the Court of Appeals as they are clearly in the wrong…There will be no miscarriage of justice under my watch,” Calida said.
“The CA decision stinks. As to where the stench came from, we will investigate it,” he warned.
“An exhaustive debate on the credibility of a witness is not within the province of the determination of probable cause,” he added.
Calida, who had successfully defended President Duterte’s controversial executive actions in the Supreme Court, said the OSG was ready to seek a reversal of the ruling and bring the legal issue to the high court.
The solicitor general agreed with Associate Justices Marie Christine Jacob and Maria Filomena Singh, who opposed Pizarro’s ruling, that the majority of CA justices erred in passing judgment on the credibility of the prosecution witness even before the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) could hold a formal trial.
In nullifying the arrest order against Reyes, Pizarro faulted the RTC for relying on the testimony of Rodolfo Edrad Jr., the former governor’s security escort who had admitted hiring the gunman, Marlon Recamata, to kill Ortega allegedly upon Reyes’ order.
Pizarro’s decision was supported by Associate Justices Danton Bueser, a former Laguna congressman, and Victoria Paredes.
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday also blasted Pizarro, saying the magistrate must be living in a “bizarre world” fantasizing himself as Jesus Christ, who performs a “miracle” to give the former Palawan governor a new lease on life.
She warned of more judicial “miracles” becoming the new normal amid the concerted attacks on Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom she said was trying to put things in order in the judiciary and fighting moves to weaken the institution.
In a statement released from her detention quarters in Camp Crame, De Lima said the judiciary had been performing several “miracles” over the past couple of years, exonerating the powerful, influential and the well-connected either before trial or after conviction by the trial court.
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