Malacañang to seek reversal of CA ruling on Dr. Gerry Ortega case
Malacañang will seek the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) that warranted the release of former Palawan Gov. Joel T. Reyes from detention.
Reyes is the alleged mastermind in the murder of broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega.
“The President remains the chief implementor of the laws. The case was filed by the Executive. We will exercise all legal options to reverse this decision of the Court of Appeals,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing on Monday.
He said he would meet with Solicitor General Jose Calida and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II this week for the filing of a motion for reconsideration.
“The government will exhaust all remedies including filing first of a motion for reconsideration,” he said.
Reyes as had been indicted as the mastermind in the 2011 murder of Ortega after a panel created by the Department of Justice (DOJ) implicating the Palawan governor in the killing.
But the CA ordered his release on January 5.
“The information in Criminal Case 26839 insofar as Mario T. Reyes is concerned is dismissed and the RTC, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 52, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, is prohibited/barred from further proceeding with the case,” the CA order stated.
The CA, voting 3-2, ruled that the Puerto Princesa RTC abused its discretion when it decided there was probable cause to charge Reyes of involvement in the killing Ortega.
Ruling not a miracle but a ‘travesty of justice’
But Roque disputed this claim of the CA.
“We have gotten a decision from the Regional Trial Court that the evidence against former Governor Joel Reyes is strong which prompted the Court to dismiss the petition of bail,” he said.
Roque, who used to be the legal counsel of the Ortegas, said he sought permission from President Rodrigo Duterte to comment on the issue and was given permission.
He slammed the CA for calling the release of Reyes a “miracle.”
“It is not true that the case is a miracle. The case, true, is a kababalaghan, and is really a travesty of justice,” he said.
‘Sad development’ for press freedom
Roque said there “was already a prior Supreme Court decision, with Justice Marvic Leonen ruling on the validity of the second panel created to investigate and determine probable cause against Joel Reyes, and which panel concluded probable cause.”
He cited that the Supreme Court ruled that it was “now up to the lower court, the Regional Trial Court, to determine the existence of probable cause.”
Roque said he only left the case on June 30, 2016, when he took oath as member of the 17th Congress.
“At that time, we have concluded presentation of all evidence for the prosecution and the defense have already concluded its presentation of evidence, and there was already a decision of the lower court that evidence of guilt was strong against former Governor Joel Reyes,” he said.
“So I find it alarming that this CA decision, number one, overruled an earlier Supreme Court decision,” he added.
The release of Reyes, he said, was a “very sad development” for press freedom in the Philippines.
“This is a very sad development for freedom of the press in this country given that the murder of Gerry Ortega is a classic case of extra-legal killing since Gerry Ortega was both a member of the journalism profession, he was a journalist, and he was also an activist,” he said.
“EO 35 classifies the killing of both journalists and activists as extra-legal killings,” he added. /kga
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