CA ruling on Ortega case a ‘triple whammy letdown’ for justice — NUPL
The Court of Appeals (CA) decision that absolved ex-Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes of criminal charges in the killing of journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega was only a “triple whammy letdown for justice,” according to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).
The CA ordered the Palawan RTC to dismiss the cases against Reyes and ordered his immediate release from detention. Reyes was released from jail on January 5 at 5:40 p.m., according to his lawyer Demetrio Castro.
“The decision to let gloating ex-Palawan Joel Reyes ‘miraculously’ get off the hook for the killing of anti-mining advocate and journalist Gerry Ortega demonstrate a triple-whammy letdown to those who still resort to our justice system for remedies,” NUPL president Atty. Edre Olalia said in a statement on Tuesday.
Olalia likened the CA’s decision to its earlier rulings when it blocked Mary Jane Veloso from testifying against her recruiters and when it rejected the claims of human rights victims against the estate of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“Yet the indignation we rightfully express must also be consistent and not selective, we cannot cry for one and not for the others. Protestations over perceived travesties of justice cannot be partisan nor defined by those in power,” Olalia said.
“Justice for one must be justice for all. Silence or tolerance of injustice for others erodes credibility and integrity and even exposes hypocrisy,” he said.
In its ruling, the CA’s Former Eleventh Division said there was no evidence presented to try Reyes for Ortega’s killing.
“Our hands are tied by our bounded duty to administer justice and abide by the law. No evidence, no conviction. So be it,” the appellate court said in its 24-page decision penned by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro.
“Call it a second chance afforded him by God, or a lucky three-point play for him to use a common street lingo or a miracle in his favor, the petitioner (Reyes) must by all means be exonerated from the charge,” the CA said.
“This Court could only hope that he would take advantage and give full-faith and meaning to this second lease on life given him. He is definitely saved from the 20 year or so imprisonment metable to the offense charged,” it said. /je
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