The Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) has issued a fresh warrant of arrest against former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes for the 2011 murder of broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega, according to a court source.
The issuance of a warrant against Reyes was the latest development in the decade-old case that saw a reversal by the Court of Appeals (CA) in November 2018 of its own earlier ruling in January of the same year acquitting Reyes.
A source close to the Ortega family told Palawan News that Reyes had filed a motion before the Supreme Court in a bid to reverse the November 2018 ruling of the CA, which orders the Palawan RTC to resume the trial of the case.
The same source added that Reyes’ defense counsel had also filed for a motion to quash the arrest warrant before the RTC.
Reyes was not released from detention even after the CA ruled in his favor, because of his separate conviction for illegally issuing a permit to a large-scale mining operation when he was still governor. Convicted by the Sandiganbayan on this case in 2017, Reyes had been sentenced to an 8-year jail term, including a perpetual disqualification from holding any public office.
Reyes is facing a case for murder, along with his brother Marjo who is the incumbent mayor of Coron but allowed by the court to post bail, as the suspected mastermind in the January 2011 shooting of Gerry Ortega.
Several of Reyes’ associates in the Ortega murder case had already been convicted and are currently serving their respective sentences, including a former aide and employee at the provincial capitol now detained at the Iwahig Corrections Facility (ICF), who served as the contact person for the group of hired killers that cased Ortega before he was shot in broad daylight in an ukay-ukay shop near his veterinary clinic.
Reyes and his brother were arrested in Thailand in 2015 after fleeing the country in 2012 at a time when the case was under preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice.