MANILA – The Ombudsman has asked the antigraft court to return to jail ex-Palawan governor Joel Reyes, for a case separate from the murder of broadcaster-environmentalist Gerry Ortega: this time, for his graft case arising from the allegedly anomalous renewal of “small scale mining permits, and for which he was convicted.
In a 3-page omnibus motion submitted to the 3rd Division of the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution asked the court to cancel Reyes’ bail and immediately commit him to a detention facility, given his record as a flight risk when he went abroad to escape prosecution in the Ortega case.
In August 2017, the Sandiganbayan had convicted Reyes in the graft case involving the mining permits, and handed him an 8-year prison term. The mining permits were given to Olympic Mines and Development Corp. in 2006.
The Sandiganbayan had earlier allowed Reyes to post bail of P60,000 over the objections of the Ombudsman prosecutor.
Last Friday (Jan. 5), the Court of Appeals said there was not enough evidence to try Reyes for the 2011 Ortega assassination, and ordered his release from detention. He had been jailed after he and his brother and co-accused, former Coron, Palawan town mayor Mario Reyes, were arrested for the Ortega killing while hiding in Thailand.
The CA order has sparked outrage from media and environmental groups, who noted the gravity of the evidence against Reyes in the Ortega case, notably the testimony of the gunman.
Solicitor General Jose Calida and Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque – who was once a private lawyer for the Ortegas – had also denounced the CA ruling favoring Reyes as one that “stinks.”