Former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes free again
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY— Former Palawan Gov. Joel T. Reyes was released from jail here on Friday after the Court of Appeals (CA) upheld his petition questioning the merit of his trial as suspect in the 2011 murder of environmentalist and journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega.
Demetrio Custodio, lead counsel for Reyes, said his client was released at 5:40 p.m.
Reyes’s release was confirmed in radio interviews by city jail warden Lito Soriano.
“The CA ruled that the [regional trial court (RTC)] had no basis to continue with the trial. The RTC made a mistake in filing the case and should stop hearing it,” Custodio said.
Sought for comment, the Ortega family said they had yet to see a copy of the CA ruling.
Ortega was gunned down by a hired gunman in January 2011.
Subsequent investigation led to the indictment of Reyes, his younger brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, and several people formerly connected with the Palawan provincial government.
Reyes was initially absolved by a Department of Justice panel of investigators but then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima rejected the decision and formed a second panel, which found prima facie evidence to indict him.
In 2012, Reyes went into hiding before the issuance of an arrest warrant by the Palawan RTC.
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