Palawan former governor Joel T Reyes paid a surprise “courtesy call” visit at the provincial capitol Tuesday morning, meeting with erstwhile political rival and Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez and offering to help the provincial government.
Reyes’ visit caught local officials by surprise even as the former said he was pleased with the courtesy he received from Alvarez and the other officials.
“Matagumpay naman at nagpapasalamat ako sa napakagandang pagtanggap sa akin ni Gov. Alvarez at Vice-governor Socrates,” Reyes said.
Alvarez had a one-on-one meeting with Reyes, with the former advising Reyes to first take a rest.
“Sabi niya kanina, nagpapasalamat siya at napagbigyan siya ng husgado. Sabi ko naman kung ano ang sinabi ng husgado, eh hindi ako abogado. Kung ano man ‘yung ibinigay sayo ng husgado, pagbutihin mo at sana gamitin mo na ‘yung natitirang yugto ng buhay mo sa mabuting paraan,” Alvarez said.
“Ang sabi niya, kung ano ang maitutulong niya sa akin, sabi ko okay lang ako, wala akong problema. Kung ako ikaw, magpahinga ka muna kasi kalalabas mo lang sa kulungan,” he added.
“Andito ako, handang tumulong. Hindi politika ang pinag-uusapan ngunit ‘yung total development ng probinsya ng Palawan,” Reyes told reporters following their meeting.
Some employees of the Palawan Provincial government who also served during Reyes’ term enthusiastically received the latter.
He also said that he felt vindicated following the dismissal order issued by the Court of Appeals last week.
Asked to comment on Malacanang’s announcement it will seek to have the CA decision revered in the Supreme Court, Reyes said he is confident on the decision of the CA.
“Prerogative nila yun at ng abogado nila. Pero ang pag-basehan natin ay ‘yung desisyon ng CA at ‘yung statement ni DOJ Secretary Aguirre na baka naman na ma- (double) jeopardy na yan,” Reyes said.
Reyes also criticized Palace spokesman Harry Roque over the latter’s attack on the CA order for his release.
“Nakalimutan siguro niya (Roque) na miyembro na siya ng kabinete. Spokesperson siya ng presidente. You cannot be a lawyer to anyone else kasi conflict of interest ‘yun. Your office can easily sway the judiciary,” Reyes said.
Reyes said he is still adjusting to life outside prison.
“Pag nakakulong ka, wala kang sense of direction. Pader lang nakikita mo araw-araw. So bigla kang lalabas ng kulungan, parang pinagpipiyestahan ang mata ko ng mga building at sasakyan, mga taong naglalakad. Malaki ang pinagbago ng kapaligiran,” Reyes said.
Asked what was his message to the Ortega family, Reyes said that he hopes they will be united and that the Ortega family will respect the rule of law.
“Sana magkaisa tayong lahat at respetuhin natin ang rule of law,” Reyes said.
Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, who also met with Reyes, said he was “surprised” with CA order.
“Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganoong outcome from the court. Regardless of the parties. For the CA to dismiss the case on the basis of “probable cause” that should have been determined from the start. Ito nasa trial stage na,” Socrates said.
“Kumbaga ang hinahanap ng CA ay proof beyond reasonable doubt for determining probable cause which is not correct,” he added.
Socrates clarified that he doesn’t have any “bad blood” against Reyes. He said that he is happy for the former governor saying that they had a good relationship before.
Board Member Winston Arzaga said that he is happy for Reyes with the decision of the CA but added that the search for justice for Gerry Ortega should continue.
“That’s good for him na na- vindicate ‘yung sarili niya. Pero para sa Ortega family, malungkot ito sa side nila. Wag nating kalimutan ‘yung search for justice. Importanteng mabigyan ng hustisya ‘yung napaslang,” Arzaga said.
(with reports from Genn Cansino Magdayao)