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Latest News Philippines: EX-GOV CLEARED OF MURDER – Journal.com.ph:

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes of murder charges in connection with the 2011 slaying of environmentalist Gerry Ortega.

Voting 3-2, the CA ruled that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s Department Order 710 directing the conduct of a preliminary investigation  of   Reyes, was void ab initio (void from the start).

The CA stressed De Lima’s creation of a second panel of prosecutors to investigate the murder of Ortega was illegal.

The CA granted Reyes’ petition for certiorari which sought to declare that De Lima and the second panel committed grave abuse of discretion.

An earlier decision of another CA division also ruled that De Lima violated the law in creating a second panel of prosecutors, which ordered the indictment of Reyes and his  Mayor Mario Reyes of Coron town.

The CA reprimanded De Lima for her “brazen disregard of the rules of procedure” when she created the second panel despite earlier findings of the first panel of prosecutors.

”This was a clear showing of wanton disregard of the rules of procedure and applicable jurisprudence,” the appellate court said.

Also, the CA chastised De Lima for violating the very rules of the Justice department with the creation of the second panel.

The CA noted that when De Lima created the second panel of prosecutors, the first panel of prosecutors had already ruled that there was no probable cause against Reyes over the murder charges.

“In retrospect, public respondent secretary of justice should have adhered to the rules that her own department promulgated and followed strictly the same, which was a roadmap for all concerned to follow who are confronted with cases before the Department of Justice, particularly in appealing resolutions of the prosecutors,” it said.

Ortega better known as “Doc Gerry” or “Ka Gerry” was a journalist, environmental activist and community leader. He was assassinated on January 24, 2011, allegedly due to his anti-mining advocacy.


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