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CA clears Joel Reyes in Gerry Ortega slay, frees ex-Palawan governor

Former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes has been released from detention after the Court of Appeals resolved in his favor a petition in connection with his murder case for the killing of broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega in 2011.

Voting 3 to 2 on January 4, the CA Former Eleventh Division voided the warrant of arrest issued by the Puerto Princesa City Regional Trial Court Branch 52 against Reyes, citing lack of sufficient evidence for a finding of probable cause for the former governor's indictment.

The CA also ordered the local court to discontinue the trial against the former governor.

In voting for Reyes' release, the CA said there was no evidence against the former governor aside from the testimony of Rodolfo Edrad alias Bumar.

The appellate court, however, found Edrad's testimony riddled with inconsistencies, thus it cannot be "validly used as evidence against Reyes."

"His incredible testimony, coupled with the contradictions and/or inconsistencies of his statements with the statements of the other prosecution witnesses, affect his credibility and the veracity of his statements," the appellate court said through Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro.

"Edrad's sworn statements cannot, therefore, be validly used as evidence against the Petitioner because of, and as it is against, the principle of res inter alios acta," it added.

The appellate court said it could only hope that Reyes “would take advantage and give full-faith and meaning to this second lease on life given him.”

“Call it a second chance afforded him by God, or a lucky three-point play for him to use a common street lingo or a miracle in his favor, the petitioner (Reyes) must by all means be exonerated from the charge,” it said.

Associate Justices Danton Bueser and Victoria Paredes concurred with the ruling, while Associate Justices Maria Filemona Singh and Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob dissented.

Ortega's camp has yet to give a comment as regards the latest development in his family's quest for justice.

Ortega was slain on January 24, 2011 while shopping in a used clothes store in Puerto Princesa.

He was allegedly silenced for his radio commentaries about the Reyes' supposed misuse of the share of the provincial government in the proceeds from the operation of the Malampaya natural gas plant off Palawan. —Virgil Lopez/NB, GMA  News