From accuser to defendant.
This may turn out to be the case for Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque after a lawyer of ex-Palawan governor Joel Reyes said that Reyes’ camp is contemplating of filing graft charges against the Palace official.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, one of the lawyers of Reyes, said Roque may be liable for graft for his remarks against Court of Appeals justices, who recently ordered the release of Reyes, nearly seven years after he was named as the mastermind in the murder of broadcaster and environment advocate Gerry Ortega.
“We are studying it [graft complaint],” said Topacio at a news forum in Quezon City.
Reyes earlier asked the CA to cite Roque in contempt for saying that the ruling was a “travesty of justice.”
Roque, who used to be the legal counsel of the Ortega family has made known his displeasure over the CA ruling in several interviews.
Topacio said Roque’s statement constitutes “undue and improper pressure and influence on other public officials” citing the presidential spokesperson’s statement that he will meet with Solicitor General Jose Calida to push for Malacañang’s bid to reverse the CA ruling.
Roque had maintained that his remarks against the CA’s ruling has the blessings of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.
But Topacio said Roque should choose between being the presidential spokesperson and being a private lawyer.
“I’m not asking that he resign unqualifiedly. What I’m saying is he should choose—does he want to be presidential spokesman or does he want to continue as a private lawyer trying the cases of his clients?” said Topacio.
Topacio, who said that Roque’s comments were “unethical” and smacked of “mental dishonesty, ” also said that it is “the prerogative of the Court of Appeals to overrule the finding of probable cause by the trial court.”
Topacio also accused Roque of covering up his “lack of lawyering skills” by “using the bully pulpit of your Cabinet position to bully the Court of Appeals into seeing things your way.”