Comelec disqualifies ex-Palawan Gov. Reyes
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday disqualified Mario Joel Reyes from running for a gubernatorial seat in the 2022 national and local elections.
Reyes ran in the gubernatorial race in the 2022 national and local elections but lost to now Palawan Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates.
“Reyes was defeated in the gubernatorial race in the recently concluded elections. However, the Comelec Second Division deemed it proper not to simply treat the case as moot and academic, citing that ‘the Supreme Court emphasized that a disqualification case still presents a justiciable issue which the Comelec should resolve instead of merely declaring that the disqualification case has become moot and academic,’” the Comelec said in a statement.
According to the Comelec, Reyes was disqualified following a petition from Nasir Radjudin Miranda and Mohammad Vinarao Asgal, which sought to disqualify him on two grounds: his prior conviction by the Sandiganbayan under Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and his being a fugitive from justice under Section 40(e) of RA. No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.
The Comelec said that in its decision dated Jan. 5, 2023, the Comelec second division found that Reyes is an escaped prisoner and a fugitive from justice with the charge against him for the crime of murder of broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega.
The division then took judicial notice of Reyes’ “intent to evade” the prosecution of the criminal charge.
It can be recalled that the Court of Appeals dismissed and subsequently reinstated the murder case against Reyes and directed the Regional Trial Court of Palawan to issue a warrant of arrest against him.
According to the Comelec second division, “Reyes’ act of fleeing to another country and evading his arrest after indictment constitute an ‘intent to evade’ which cannot be cured by the Temporary Restraining Order which he later on secured from the Supreme Court.”
Still allowed to run for public office
However, the Comelec said that Reyes may not be disqualified based on his prior conviction by the Sandiganbayan “due to the pendency of the Motion for Reconsideration and Urgent Reiterative Omnibus Motion filed by Reyes, the judgment against him in G.R. No. 237172 has not yet attained finality.”
“Thus, the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office will not set in,” the Comelec said.
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