SolGen to CA: Order re-arrest of ex-Palawan governor Joel Reyes

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Solicitor General Jose Calida and former Palawan governor Joel Reyes. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 23) Solicitor General Jose Calida called on the Court of Appeals (CA) to reverse its decision clearing former Palawan governor Joel Reyes of murder charges against slain broadcast journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega.

Calida, through a January 22 motion for reconsideration released Tuesday, asked the appellate court's former Special 11th decision to order Reyes' immediate re-arrest.

Reyes was accused of masterminding Ortega's slay in broad daylight in 2011. The journalist had reported on the alleged widespread corruption in the provincial government and misuse of funds in Palawan, which later became part of the Malampaya fund scam.

The Solicitor General argued the CA "gravely erred" when it decided on evidentiary matters that should have been and could only be fairly done at a full-blown trial.

Calida said the court ruled that Rodolfo Edrad, Jr. a.k.a. "Bumar", who was Reyes' former bodyguard, gave conflicting statements on his former employer's involvement in Ortega's killing. Bumar's statement when he became state witness was nullified by the CA.

"This violates the principle that the admissibility of evidence is a matter best resolved at trial and not in the course of determining probable cause," Calida said.

Calida added that the CA also imposed its own standard of probable cause which was different from what's required by law and one unwarranted by the circumstances.

"This Honorable Court, in finding no probable cause to arrest (Reyes), unfortunately conducted a fragmented analysis of the evidence before it, isolating each piece of evidence and concluding that it alone does not prove probable cause," Calida said.

Calida also said Reyes' flight from the country is a strong indication of his guilt that should have been taken into consideration in determining probable cause against him.

"It is well-settled that flight is evidence of a guilty conscience, and, at the very least, strongly indicative of a guilty mind," Calida said.

Together with his brother Mario, Reyes went into hiding in 2012 but was arrested in Phuket, Thailand in 2015.  Mario, also accused of murder, was allowed to post bail when he ran for vice mayor in 2016.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.