Sandiganbayan orders arrest of ex-Palawan Gov. Reyes

MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan on Monday ordered the arrest of former Palawan Governor Joel T. Reyes after the court convicted the former official for the anomalous renewal of small-scale mining permits in 2006.

The Sandiganbayan Third Division granted the motion of the Office of the Ombudsman, which had sought the re-arrest of Reyes for being a flight risk after he hid in Thailand in 2012. At that time, he was considered a prime suspect in the 2011 murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega.

The latest decision of the Sandiganbayan involves its earlier ruling in August 2017 that the former Palawan governor was guilty in the graft case when he granted permits to a mining company in Puerto Princesa City in 2006.

In their resolution, Sandiganbayan Third Division chairperson Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justices Bernelito R. Fernandez and Sarah Jane Fernandez also affirmed the cancellation of Reyes' right to post bail for his temporary liberty.

The Sandiganbayan Third Division ordered Reyes' arrest in approving the prosecution's urgent motion to cancel bail and for the immediate commitment of the governor to prison filed last January 8.

"Let a warrant of arrest be issued against accused Joel T. Reyes," the Sandiganbayan Third Division said in its 18-page resolution.

The former Palawan governor was released from detention earlier this month after the Court of Appeals (CA) cleared him from murder charges in connection with the killing Ortega, also an environmentalist.

In its appeal, the Ombudsman said the CA's decision "deems it necessary" for the Sandiganbayan to order the detention of the former governor, saying he is a flight risk.

The Ombudsman cited the arrest of Reyes and his brother, former Coron, Palawan Mayor Mario Reyes, in Thailand in 2015 because of the Ortega murder case.

The Sandiganbayan Third Division in August last year convicted Reyes of graft and sentenced him to a maximum of eight years of imprisonment for the anomalous renewal of small-scale mining permits.

The anti-graft court also perpetually barred Reyes from holding public office.

Source: Philippine News Agency