MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Sandiganbayan upheld the conviction of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, and committed him back to jail.
Reyes surrendered to the anti-graft court on Monday afternoon, January 29, after the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division issued an arrest warrant against him. His commitment order to the Quezon City jail annex inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City was signed later Monday.
Reyes enjoyed 3 weeks of freedom after the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered his release in the Gerry Ortega murder case. He was in hiding for 3 years and was in jail for another 3 years until the CA decision early January.
"Siyempre, after absence of so many years, it's 'getting to know you' again. Tapos bigla akong mawawala so siyempre masakit din sa kanila (my children). Ang pagsama nila sa akin siguro pagbibigay ng moral support sa akin....Sabi nila, 'Papa, lakasan mo ang loob mo, kaya natin 'yan,'" Reyes told reporters while he awaited his commitment order.
(Of course, after absence of so many years, it's "getting to know you" again. Then all of a sudden, I will be gone again so of course it hurts my children. Their being here today gives me moral support....They told me, "Papa, be strong, we can handle this.")
Reyes' lawyer Demetrio Custodio said they will appeal the cancellation of bail, and file a petition for review before the Supreme Court (SC) to challenge the conviction.
The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division first granted the prosecution's motion to revoke Reyes' bail, also ordering his arrest on January 17. On January 25, the court promulgated its decision that denied Reyes' appeal and upheld his conviction. Both decisions were released to media on Monday.
"Accused Reyes failed to show any cogent reason to reverse or modify the Decision dated August 29, 2017, finding him guilty of violation of Section 3(e), RA No. 3019," said the decision penned by Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez, with concurrences from Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez.
With the conviction upheld, Reyes was sentenced to 6-8 years in prison.
The former Palawan governor was convicted of graft in August 2017 over the anomalous issuance of a mining permit in Puerto Princesa, but the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division allowed him to be free on bail while the conviction was under appeal.
Ombudsman prosecutors had sought the cancellation of the bail, saying that Reyes is a flight risk. The former Palawan governor hid from authorities for 3 years before being arrested in Thailand in 2015 for the murder charge.
He had also been arraigned for a different set of 36 counts of graft over the Malampaya fund scam. – Rappler.com