THE Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the freezing of the bank deposits of former lawmakers, Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, the former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the aides of Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and other individuals implicated in the questionable releases and misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Covered by the resolution issued by the CA’s former second division are the 38 bank accounts of Reyes, 96 bank accounts of Ruby Tuason, and dozens of bank deposits of four former members of the House of Representatives.
Tuason, the social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, now mayor of Manila, is the current chief of staff of senator Estrada. Some witnesses in the plunder complaint filed against Janet Lim-Napoles claimed that Tuason was the conduit in the offices of Enrile and Senator Estrada.
All the people covered by the CA order were named respondents in the plunder complaint filed by the Department of Justice at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the misuse of pork barrel funds that were poured to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) owned by Napoles.
The freeze order did not include Enrile, Estrada and Revilla.
The 43-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Manuel Barrios ordered the officials of several banks to freeze the assets of former Rep. Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur, former Rep. Samuel Dangwa of Benguet, former Rep. Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro and Rep. Edgar Valdez of APEC party-list.
Justices Remedios Salazar-Fernando and Normandie Pizarro concurred with the resolution.
The appellate court granted the petition of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze the assets of the people allegedly behind the illegal release of PDAF. The council, however, excluded Enrile, Estrada and Revilla, who were also linked to Napoles and were also charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman for allotting a big part of their PDAF to NGOs controlled by Napoles.
Other persons covered by the freeze order of the appellate court are Richard Cambe, former chief of staff of Revilla, Pauline Therese Mary Labayen, staff of Senator Estrada, Jose Sumalpong, the chief of staff of former Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lenete and Erwin Dangwa, the chief of staff of Samuel Dangwa.
The freeze order will last for three months. The court directed the officers of the covered banks and financial institutions to submit detailed written returns on the freeze order and to “specify all pertinent and relevant information on the subject bank accounts, including all related accounts wherever these may be found.”
The accounts of Reyes, who is hiding abroad, are with the Bank of Commerce, Bank of Philippine Islands, East West Bank, Philippine American Life and Gen. Insurance Co. and Security Bank.
The court froze 33 accounts of Valdez as well as the deposits of his wife Thelma and daughter Ethel; 73 bank accounts of the Plaza family, including the deposits of the former lawmaker’s wife and children; 40 bank accounts of Dangwa and wife Divina and 44 bank accounts of Jaraula.
Court observers were surprised the assets of Enrile, Estrada and Revilla were not covered by the freeze order when they released billions from their PDAF to fund ghost projects.
Benhur Luy, a former employee of Napoles, has testified that Enrile received P172 million in kickbacks from the pork releases. Luy said it was Gigi Reyes who received the commissions in Enrile’s behalf.
Revilla pocketed P224 million in commissions, which was received by Cambe, according to Luy. Estrada also got P183 million in commissions, given to his representatives, Labayen and Tuason.
In the complaint filed by the DOJ, Plaza was accused of pocketing P42.14 million; Dangwa, P26.77 million; and Jaraula, P20.84 million.