Palawan ex-governor hits evidence in graft charge

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FORMER governor Joel Reyes of Palawan challenged the set of evidence the Office of the Ombudsman presented before the Sandiganbayan in line with his mining-related graft charge.

According to Reyes and his lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, a number of evidence that forms part of the documentary proof against the former governor is not enough to sustain a guilty verdict.

The case stemmed from a complaint lodged in 2008 on accusations that Reyes and the Palawan Provincial Mining Regulatory Board violated the small-scale mining law when they allegedly gave unwarranted benefit to a mining corporation, resulting in over-extraction of minerals.

The defense reiterated that eight ore transport permits were “irrelevant and immaterial” to the allegations.


“[The evidence are] hearsay insofar as accused Reyes is concerned as no witness was presented to testify on and authenticate the signature of Reyes,” the pleading read.

A total of nine transport permits also lacked Reyes’ signature making these forms “incompetent,” the defense cited.

Reyes added that three small-scale mining permits given to Olympic Mines and Development Corp. are mere photocopies, hence, inadmissible under the best evidence rule.

The defense noted that the permits do not prove allegations at all.

“The mere renewal, even prematurely, of a small scale mining permit is not punishable by any law,” the pleading read.

Exhibit Q-2, which referred to a permit given in November 2004 to Olympics, was not even alleged in the information, the defense raised.

Reyes and his team of counsel advised the Sandiganbayan Third Division that five days after the court ruled on the prosecution’s formal offer of evidence, they will file a demurrer to evidence which seeks outright dismissal of a case on the grounds of weak evidence.

In March, the Court of Appeals cleared Reyes of murder charges in the killing of the radio broadcaster and environmentalist Gerry Ortega, citing procedural lapses on the part of the Department of Justice in investigating the case.

The dismissal of the murder charges allowed Reyes to skip prosecution and his warrant of arrest dissolved.

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