• DOJ asked to probe P5-billion Cagayan breakwater project

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    SEN. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Tuesday asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to look into the reported connection of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile’s former chief of staff to the contractor that won the P5-billion breakwater project in Cagayan Freeport.

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    In a letter, Santiago urged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate the use of the names of Enrile’s ex-chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucilla “Gigi” Reyes, and her family in the disbursement of some P5.101 billion in public funds.

    “It appears that Enrile used their names to surreptitiously morph the Freeport into the main vehicle for smuggling and other illicit operations,” Santiago stated in her letter.

    A special six-man special task force was formed by the Justice department last year to verify the allegations made by Santiago in her privilege speech against the minority leader.

    In her December 4 privilege speech, Santiago accused Enrile of several crimes including his alleged involvement in the illegal importation of motor vehicles through the special economic zone and Port Irene in Cagayan, Enrile’s home province.

    She also accused the veteran senator of running a gambling empire in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.

    In her letter, Santiago claimed that P5.101 billion in public funds were allotted to the construction of a one-kilometer breakwater in Port Irene and that the contractor was connected with Enrile’s former chief of staff.

    According to Santiago, Santa Elena Construction, the firm that won the breakwater contract, has Alice Eduardo as president and chief executive officer when she also heads Santa Fe Builders.

    Santiago’s letter further said Santa Fe Builders has Neal Jose Gonzales as chairman and Maria Cooper as one of the directors. Gonzales and Cooper are Reyes’ brother and mother, respectively.

    “It appears that Enrile has used the names of his chief of staff and her family to mask his immense personal financial interests, not only in Santa Fe Builders, but also in Santa Elena Construction,” Santiago said.

    “Based on these facts, I respectfully request that the DOJ investigating panel should pursue this angle,” she added.

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