Former Palawan Gov. Joel T. Reyes was released from the city jail here on Friday afternoon after the Court of Appeals (CA) upheld his petition questioning the merit of his trial as the suspect in the 2011 murder of environmentalist and journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega, the former governor’s lawyer Demetrio Custodio said.
- Ortega was gunned down by a hired gunman in January 2011 and Reyes had been being pinpointed as the mastermind.
- The investigation led to the indictment of Reyes, his younger brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes and several people formerly connected with the provincial government of Palawan.
- In 2012, Reyes went into hiding before the issuance of an arrest warrant
- The brothers were arrested in Thailand in 2015 after 3 years in hiding.
- Mario Joel Reyes, however, was granted bail in May 2016. In September 2016, Joel Reyes’ petition for bail was denied.
- The murder case has been dismissed and the Palawan court has been ordered to discontinue the trial.
Ortega’s camp has yet to give a comment as regards the latest development in his family’s quest for justice.
Just early this year, the ombudsman also charged Reyes before the Sandiganbayan with 36 counts of graft in connection with P1.534-billion worth of alleged anomalous contracts that the provincial government entered into in 2008 using proceeds from the Malampaya gas project.
Reyes was also previously charged with graft over the alleged misuse of P3.25-million fertilizer funds in 2004 but the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division dismissed the case in May citing the “inordinate delay” in the ombudsman’s investigation.