MANILA - (UPDATE) Malacañang on Thursday expressed confidence the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) can find a way to reverse the court decision which released former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes from detention.
Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday said the appellate court's decision to clear Reyes of charges for allegedly ordering the murder of radio host and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega "stinks," and he will raise the matter to the Supreme Court.
"We give our full trust and confidence to the Office of the Solicitor General to effectively seek the reversal of this nightmare, of this, according to Secretary (Harry) Roque, travesty of justice," said Communications Undersecretary Joel Egco.
Egco said he has prepared a formal request for Calida to "take charge" and "do whatever has to be done to seek a reversal."
Ortega was shot dead in January 2011 while shopping at a thrift store in Puerto Princesa. Prior to his death, the radio broadcaster had accused Reyes of massive corruption and linked him to alleged environmental crimes.
Last week, the Court of Appeals ordered the Palawan Regional Trial Court to dismiss the case against Reyes and release him due to lack of evidence linking him to the journalist's death.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who stood as counsel for the Ortega family when he was in private practice, said the government will "exercise all legal options to reverse this decision of the CA."
Reyes, however, said there was a "conflict of interest" in Roque's statement.
Egco explained that Roque's comment was "within the purview" of President Rodrigo Duterte's Administrative Order 1, which provides that "unsolved cases of grave violation of the right to life, liberty and security of person are revisited, investigated, and prosecuted until final determination and penal conclusion."
The order also created the Presidential Task Force on Media Security "for the purpose of monitoring all cases of media killings and mobilizing all member agencies in order to attain justice for the families of slain journalists and media workers."
Egco said the task force, which the OSG is part of, will do all within its powers and "will perform all legal and appropriate action and ask our media partners....for support in order to find out where the stench really came from with regard to the CA order to release former Governor Reyes to the detriment of a slain journalist, whom we are bound by law to protect and serve until justice is achieved."
"This unwelcome development is a nightmare from where we all should wake up. It sets a bad precedent to cases of similar nature. It sends a chilling effect not only to the families of the victims but even to us, those at the front line against the problem of media killings," he said.
ROQUE WELCOMES POSSIBLE CONTEMPT CHARGE
In the same Palace briefing, Roque said he welcomes a possible contempt charge against him to be filed by Reyes "so I can probably explain to the convicted felon, he is a convicted felon."
"What the role of the chief executive is, the chief executive is the chief implementer of the law. Every crime is prosecuted by the executive in the name of the people of the Philippines," he said.
"It is the duty and obligation of the state to accord its citizens justice. I spoke in that capacity. I have no regrets and even the President approved my statement," he added.