Former Palawan governor Joel Reyes. (File photo)

For supporters of former governor Joel T. Reyes, the issuance of a new arrest warrant against him by the Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) is all part of local politics.

Reyes’ spokesperson, former board member Rolando Bonoan, believes the revival of the murder case against the former governor may be linked to the coming elections.

Bonoan did not say if Reyes is planning to participate in next year’s local elections but insisted that the latter is qualified.

“Hindi natin puwedeng matanggal sa isyu yong election dahil hanggang sa ngayon marami pa ring nakikipag-touch base kay former governor Joel Reyes pagdating sa pulitika. Marami pa rin ang naghahanap sa kanya at naghihintay na tumakbo siya uli at mag-serbisyo,” Bonoan told Palawan News.

“Takot silang tumakbo na naman si JTR na governor sa eleksyon kaya gumagawa na naman ng paraan,” a netizen commented on the news thread.

RTC Judge Angelo Arizala had issued the warrant against Reyes on July 14 but it wasn’t publicly announced by enforcement authorities. The whereabouts of Reyes have not been known since his supposed release from jail sometime early this year.

If Reyes has plans to run for a local position in the coming polls, he has yet to come out in the open. He also needs the Supreme Court to reverse a Sandiganbayan conviction in 2018 for graft that suspended him from seeking any public office.

Bonoan said Reyes had sought legal relief from the Supreme Court (SC) and had been awaiting its decision for 7 to 8 months before the RTC issued the warrant of arrest.

“Ngayon, ang tanong naman dyan, ano ba itong warrant of arrest na ito? Unang una, ito ba is just because he’s just complying with the order of the Court of Appeals (CA) or dahil dalawang buwan na lang magsisimula na ang filing ng candidacy for 2022 elections?” Bonoan said.

READ RELATED NEWS: New arrest warrant issued vs former governor Joel T. Reyes

No plans to escape
Bonoan dismissed speculations that Reyes may be planning to leave the country to again evade arrest.

“Narito lang siya sa Pilipinas, hindi aalis ng bansa yon,” Bonoan said.

Reyes, however, did escape before. After his indictment in 2012, he secretly fled the country using a fake passport, according to the Bureau of Immigration (BOI). He was captured, along with his brother Marjo Reyes, three years later in Thailand.

“Ito naman ay haharapin niya ang kasong ito katulad ng pagharap niya sa kasong ito noong mga nakaraang panahon na alam naman natin nag-sakripisyo rin ang tao, nag-stay rin siya sa piitan ng ilang taon. Hinaharap niya naman ang mga legal issues na ibinabato laban sa kanya,” Bonoan said.

Bonoan added that the local court should not have issued the arrest warrant since the Supreme Court still has jurisdiction over the matter due to Reyes’ request for reconsideration.

“Ang tingin ko dapat hindi nag-isyu ng warrant of arrest muna ang RTC kasi nasa jurisdiction pa ng Supreme Court yong kaso because of the motion for reconsideration na ifinile ng mga lawyers ni former Gov. Reyes at ito ay na-assigned na ng Supreme Court sa isang division nila, so therefore, technically they already acquired jurisdiction over this,” Bonoan said.  (with reports from Ruth Rodriguez, Romar Miranda, and Celeste Anna Formoso)