Comelec division disqualifies Joel Reyes as candidate for Palawan governor in 2022 elections

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2023 07:56 PM

MANILA — The Comelec Second Division has issued a resolution disqualifying Mario Joel T. Reyes as a candidate for the position of Governor in the Province of Palawan in the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections.

Its basis: Reyes is an escaped prisoner and a fugitive from justice in connection with the charge against him for the crime of murder of broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega.

The Second Division cited the Local Government Code’s prohibition against fugitives from justice, from running for local elective positions and pointed out Reyes’ “intent to evade the prosecution of the criminal charge” by fleeing to another country and evading his arrest after indictment. 

The Division said that while Reyes had fully-served the penalty of imprisonment for earning Good Conduct Time Allowance, it was for a different case—his prior conviction by the Sandiganbayan for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. 

“The same does not negate the Respondent's flight to another country for years when he was indicted for the crime of Murder to avoid arrest and prosecution,” the Division said.

Even if Reyes lost in the race for governor, the Comelec Second Division did not treat the matter as moot and academic, saying that the Supreme Court has said that a “disqualification case still presents a justiciable issue.”

The Comelec Second Division did not disqualify Reyes on the basis of his conviction by the Sandiganbayan since there is still a pending Motion for Reconsideration and Urgent Reiterative Omnibus Motion filed by Reyes; thus the conviction has not yet attained finality and the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office has not set in.


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