Prosecutors tell Sandiganbayan: Jail Joel Reyes now

MANILA, Philippines – Prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman are moving to cancel the bail of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes over his conviction last August 2017 for one count of graft.

“Considering Reyes’ previous record and to prevent its recurrence, the cancellation of his bail and his immediate commitment to prison are warranted,” prosecutors said in a motion submitted to anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Monday, January 8.

Reyes was in jail for over two years over the Gerry Ortega murder case, but he was recently freed by the Court of Appeals, in a decision called by dissenters as "premature" and "preposterous."

The former governor of Palawan was convicted for one count of graft over the anomalous issuance of a mining permit in Puerto Princesa, but the Sandiganbayan Third Division allowed him to enjoy temporary liberty while they were appealing the conviction.

Reyes had to pay double the bail to remain free despite a conviction, or P60,000, to comply with the policy of the court for convictions in bailable charges. 

Prosecutors pointed out to the court that Reyes is flight-risk and should therefore be immediately committed to prison. Reyes evaded arrest in the murder case for 3 years until he was caught in Thailand in 2015.

“Reyes was and remains to be flight-risk; and notwithstanding the fact that during the trial of this case, counsel could not produce the accused before the Honorable Court nor categorically state or account for his whereabouts on several occasions,” the prosecutors said.

Reyes’ lawyer Demetrio Custodio said his client would not flee.

“It would be absurd to even think that Gov Reyes would be a flight risk at this time, considering that he has just scored a very significant legal victory at the Court of Appeals. Why would he mitigate the value of this victory by fleeing?” Custodio told reporters.

Solicitor General Jose Calida said his office will take the CA decision freeing Reyes to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Reyes faces another 36 counts of graft for grossly incomplete projects in Palawan sourced from the Malampaya funds. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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