Solicitor General raises suspicion vs. judge in Gerry Ortega slay

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 11) — The Court of Appeals (CA) justice who handled the murder of journalist-environmentalist Gerry Ortega will go on early retirement — and the Solicitor General believes this is not a coincidence.

"I read in the newspapers that the ponente, the one who decided this case, who wrote the decision, is going to retire next month," Calida told CNN Philippines' The Source Thursday.

"It makes me think that there's something — the decision is marred by this — especially now in the light of the revelation that he's going to retire next month. It's like a jigsaw puzzle. We'll try to put the pieces together," he added.

The Philippine Star reported Thursday that Justice Normandie Pizarro will retire next month, a year before scheduled.

Calida said he will not investigate the judge himself, but the "circumstances in which such decision was issued."

CNN Philippines is still trying to reach Pizarro or the Court of Appeals for comment.

Pizarro penned the decision saying there was a lack of evidence to bring ex-Palawan Governor and murder suspect Joel Reyes to trial. The CA ordered the release of Reyes, who is tagged in both the 2011 murder of Ortega and two other graft and corruption cases.

Related: State prosecutors want ex-Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes back in jail

The former governor went into hiding in 2012, but was arrested in Thailand in 2015.

Calida reiterated a previous statement of disapproval at the court's decision.

"[The decision] stinks... under our jurisprudence, when the trial court obtains jurisdiction, that jurisdiction attaches to the court until the case is decided," he said. "We shall find out the source of the stench."

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque promised the government would do everything it could to have the decision reversed.

Related: Gov't to exhaust 'all legal options' to reverse CA decision on Ortega case

Roque and Calida said the Supreme Court ordered the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, to pursue the trial. They questioned the Court of Appeals' right to counter such a decision.

"The Supreme Court already ruled that the [RTC] of Puerto Princesa can handle that case... Therefore the [Court of Appeals] should not have meddled in that because the CA's decision refers only to the probable cause for issuing the warrant of arrest," said Calida.