FORMER Palawan Governor Joel Reyes filed indirect contempt charges before the Court of Appeals against Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. This was in connection with CA’s ruling which cleared Reyes of charges over the killing of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega.
“Respondent’s attacks on the Honorable Court were unwarranted and tended to impair the Honorable Court’s independence and efficiency, as well as the public’s confidence in the Honorable Court’s honesty and integrity,” Reyes said in his 12-page petition file on January 10.
Reyes added that while Roque claimed to speak on a personal capacity, his criticism of the decision may have a “possible influence on the public and even the courts.”
“Respondent scandalized the Honorable Court. In his public statements, he called the Honorable Court’s decision as a ‘travesty of justice,’ insinuating that the Honorable Court decided the case for considerations other than the ends of justice. He also accused the Honorable Court of arrogance for allegedly overruling a previous decision of the Supreme Court… which is even misleading because the matter decided, in that case, had nothing to do with the jurisdiction and validity of its exercise by the trial court, which was the matters at issue in (the CA decision).”
Roque was quoted in the media on January 8 and 9 calling the decision as “alarming” and a “travesty of justice.”
CA over SC
Roque has served as legal counsel to the family of the slain broadcaster. Roque was also quoted accusing the CA special division of “overruling” the Supreme Court, which Reyes claimed to be “misleading.”
“If it were true that Respondent was speaking in his personal capacity, there was no reason for him to have announced that the reversal of the Honorable Court’s ruling is ‘the official position of the Duterte government.’ Instead, his declaration was clearly a veiled threat for the Honorable Court to decide the motion for reconsideration or whatever remedy the government would take, in its favor, otherwise the Honorable Court would be going against ‘the official position of the Duterte government,” it added
Reyes said Roque’s statement was a “veiled threat for the court to decide the motion for reconsideration or whatever remedy the government will take in its favor.”
Malacanang had earlier said it would do everything to reverse the CA’s decision clearing Reyes on the Ortega murder case.
“We will exercise all legal options to reverse this decision by the Court of Appeals,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing Monday.
“The government will exhaust all remedies, including filing first of a motion for reconsideration,” he said.
The former governor was freed from Palawan City Jail after the CA, in a ruling, found no basis for the Palawan Regional Trial Court to order his arrest or convict him for Ortega’s death.
According to the CA’s Former Eleventh Division, Special Division of Five, 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.
“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 years or so imprisonment metable to the offense charged,” read the decision dated Jan. 4, 2018.
“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,” it said.
The special division of five justices of the CA division voted 3-2 to acquit Reyes.
Ortega, who had been hailed as an environmental hero, was gunned down on Jan. 24, 2011 in Puerto Princesa City after having just finished his radio program “Ramatak”. The gunman, Marlon Recamata, was arrested and pleaded guilty to murder charges in February 2011.
Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, had been tagged by Recamata as the masterminds behind the killing of Ortega who had criticized the former governor for the supposed destruction of the environment in the province.