Ex-Palawan gov wants Roque cited in contempt over comments on release

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 12 2018 04:08 PM

Former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. Composite

MANILA - Former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes wants Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque cited in indirect contempt over criticism the cabinet official had made on the dismissal of his murder charges in connection with the 2011 slay of radio host and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega.

In a 14-page petition filed at the Court of Appeals on Wednesday, Reyes, who was recently released from detention, said Roque should be punished for his "unwarranted" attacks on the appellate court, which had ruled that there was no evidence to pin him for the killing. 

Roque had earlier assailed the appellate court's decision, saying its order for Reyes' release had defied the Supreme Court.

He said the high court had given the Palawan Regional Trial Court the sole authority to determine the existence of probable cause in the Ortega slay case. 

Reyes said Roque's statements "tended to impair the Honorable Court's independence and efficiency, as well as the public's confidence in the Honorable Court's honesty and integrity."

The former provincial official had earlier warned Roque of lawyering for the Ortega family due to conflict of interest.

Roque, who previously served as counsel for the Ortega family in the murder case, however, said he welcomes the filing of a contempt case.

"I welcome that so I can probably explain to the convicted felon- he is a convicted felon- what the role of the chief executive is," Roque said in a press briefing at the Malacañang Palace Thursday.

He was referring to Reyes' 2017 Sandiganbayan conviction for graft charges over the anomalous renewal of a small-scale mining permit in his province, for which the Ombudsman recently sought his rearrest. 

"The chief executive is the chief implementer of the law. It is the obligation of the State to accord its citizens justice. I spoke in that capacity," he added.

Roque added that he has no regrets about making the statement and that President Rodrigo Duterte even "approved" them. 

He said Malacañang will spearhead efforts to overturn the CA ruling, which he labeled as a"travesty of justice."

Solicitor General Jose Calida also vowed to raise the ruling before the Supreme Court, saying "the CA decision "stinks." 

-- with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News