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02:53 AM April 1st, 2013

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By: Conrado Banal, April 1st, 2013 02:53 AM

When, about a week ago, the Court of Appeals cleared former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes of murder charges for the shooting of radio block timer Gerardo Ortega, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima went to media town with terms like “foul tactics” and “illicit means,” in reaction to the CA decision.

In other words, Reyes won his case in CA because of bribery, although our dear justice secretary forgot to specify who used foul tactics and illicit means.

Surely she was directing her verbal assault at Reyes and his brother Coron (Palawan) Mayor Marjo Reyes—the men that the DOJ charged as “masterminds” of the murder of Ortega about two years ago, who were both cleared by the CA.

It was obvious the secretary was also attacking the six CA justices who ruled favorably to the petition of the Reyes brothers, coming from the 5th and 10th divisions of the CA.

De Lima, by the way, also forgot to offer media any evidence when she talked euphemistically about bribery in the court.

Twice—i.e. in the separate cases filed by the Reyes brothers—the CA castigated the justice secretary, pointing out that she went overboard in the exercise of power of her office.

Now word has been going around about a well-funded group—one said to be politically connected, working together with a certain “somebody” in business—that has been supporting the demolition job against the Reyes brothers with top-class PR practitioners, not to mention an owner of a media outfit.

Our dear justice secretary perhaps did not know it, much less the group footing the huge campaign bill?

Anyway, when the Ortega murder case became a media sensation in early 2011, De Lima created an investigation panel—not just one prosecutor, which was normally the case, but a whole group of prosecutors.

Twice—not only once, which should be enough—the panel ruled there was simply no evidence against the Reyes brothers. What did the justice secretary do? Well, she created a “second” panel to reinvestigate and evaluate the supposedly “new” evidence that had yet to be presented.

Question: how did the DOJ know it was “new” evidence if it has not been presented yet? Beats me, too.

Anyway, it was clear that even the second panel failed to assail the decision of the original panel of prosecutors, clearing, in effect, the Reyes brothers as the supposed “masterminds” of the Ortega murder.

The supposedly new evidence, as it turned out, was simply the record of mobile text messages between the former governor and the confessed leader of the killers of Ortega, called “Bumar,” whose real name is Rodolfo Edrad.

What were the messages? Nobody knew—not even the second panel created by De Lima. The “new” evidence was some record of telephone numbers, supposedly belonging to Bumar and Reyes.

The first panel already rejected those same mobile numbers as proof of guilt of the former governor. The text exchanges between Reyes and Bumar could have been about anything under the sun, even forwarded black propaganda against the Aquino (Part II) administration.

In his affidavit, Bumar alleged that in those text messages, he asked Reyes for money to pay off the hit squad, and Reyes supposedly told him to get the money from Marjo, the Coron mayor.

Reyes, who was in Switzerland at the time, claimed that Bumar was borrowing money, and since he was abroad, he told Bumar to try to ask for the money from Marjo, amounting to only P5,000.

Bumar, for his part, claimed Marjo gave him P500,000. So where was the P500,000 in cash? Well, according to Bumar, he lost the entire darn belt bag containing the money, before he surrendered to Puerto Princesa Mayor Eduard Hagedorn.

So, when De Lima created the second panel, after the first panel twice rejected the supposed “new” evidence, what was the cue to the members of the second panel?

Let me see: to be on the good side of the boss, who obviously did not like the decision of the first panel, let us decide the exact opposite no matter what… or some bail-out like that!

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Lately, the bad news media treated us to some misbehaving TV girl and senator and the monstrous traffic caused by our leader Benigno Simeon (aka BS) while meaning to do some PR stunt in inspecting bus terminals for the Holy Week rush.

We forgot about the little daily heroism of the lowly government employees—their hard work and dedication. For instance, this company recently honored some 150 government workers who saved lives during a disastrous landslide a few weeks ago. There was no report about it whatsoever.

The company was Energy Development Corp. which last month suffered a terrible landslide in its geothermal plant site in Kananga, Leyte.

Honored by EDC were mostly government employees: soldiers from the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion; firemen in Ormoc City and Kananga town; policemen in Ormoc and Kananga; and some volunteers from the Ormoc and Kananga LGUs. Of course, the Makati disaster team also figured prominently in the rescue.

From what I gathered, the Philippine Army soldiers, led by 19th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Joel Alejandro Nacnac, were taking part in a drill in the EDC compound when the accident happened. With the EDC crew, the soldiers were among the first batch of rescuers in the accident site.

The rescue operation saved the lives of 31 employees of the construction company doing earth-moving work at the EDC site.

EDC president Richard Tantoco led a simple ceremony at the Ormoc City Hotel recently to honor the rescue teams. Why? “We wanted to honor these dedicated rescue workers and thank them personally to make them feel that rescue work is not a thankless job after all,” he said.

To me, it is nevertheless just comforting to know that the country has well-trained teams for such emergencies, although I am just not sure we have them here in Metro Manila as well.

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In a previous piece, we mistakenly said corporate executive Jon Steen Petersen was the CEO and president of TVI Resources. Oops—he is actually the CEO and president of Intex Philippines.

Anyway, Petersen says he is hopeful the government will give the Intex nickel project in Mindoro a fair chance to bring progress and development to the people of the island through its job generation potential and the huge taxes it will pay.

He says the Intex nickel processing plant also features modern carbon-neutral operation.

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