Palace hails Ombudsman move for Reyes’ re-arrest over graft conviction

MANILA -- MalacaAang on Wednesday lauded the move of the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) asking the Sandiganbayan to order the cancellation of bail and subsequent re-arrest of former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes due to a pending graft conviction, saying it was the right thing to do.

That's how it should be! I commend the Office of the Ombudsman for the order, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement.

The Ombudsman's appeal to the anti-graft court was issued following the release of Reyes from jail after the Court of Appeals (CA) cleared him of murder charges over the January 2011 killing of journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega.

Reyes was convicted on Aug. 29 last year by the Sandiganbayan's Third Division to a prison term of six to eight years over the anomalous renewal of the mining permit of Olympic Mines and Development Corp. (OMDC) that exceeded ore extraction limits.

Since he was still detained in Puerto Princesa City pending his unbailable murder case, the court allowed Reyes to post a PHP60,000 bail on the graft conviction while it resolved his appeal.

Besides the graft conviction, the former Palawan governor also faces 36 counts of graft pending at the Sandiganbayan Second Division in connection with the alleged anomalous awarding of 209 public works contracts funded by PHP1.53 billion in royalties from the Malampaya gas field in 2008 and 2009.

Due to the bail he had long posted on his pending corruption cases in the Sandiganbayan, Reyes was able to walk free last Jan. 5, the same day the CA issued its decision, clearing the former official of the murder case.

In its urgent motion, the Ombudsman asked the anti-graft court to reconsider the grant of his bail in the mining permit cases, citing the change in circumstances since the bail was first granted.

It also stressed the need to prevent the recurrence of Reyes' previous escape from the country in March 2012 with his brother, former Coron mayor Mario Reyes, after being indicted for Ortega's killing.

The two were arrested in Phuket, Thailand in September 2015.

Considering accused Reyes' previous record and to prevent its recurrence, the cancellation of his bail and his immediate commitment to prison are warranted, the motion read.

Malacanang has earlier said it would do everything to reverse the CA's decision clearing Reyes of 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.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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