• ‘Gigi Reyes had key role in PDAF scam’

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    Gigi Reyes

    Gigi Reyes

    BECAUSE of the vast power and influence she wielded as the chief of staff of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Jessica “Gigi” Reyes was able to funnel the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of senators to non-government organizations (NGOs) owned or controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles, a source at the Senate told The Manila Times on Monday.

    Reyes, a lawyer, was touted as the 24th senator because of the powers and privileges she enjoyed as Enrile’s most trusted aide.

    The Senate source who spoke on the condition that he would not be named claimed that Reyes “practically went from office to office” to encourage senators to release their pork barrel funds to Napoles’ NGOs.

    “Atty. Gigi was going around the Senate building at [the]time for that purpose. Remember that she was very powerful when she was with JPE [Enrile’s initials]. There were times that she was the one who did follow-ups with the DBM [Department of Budget and Management],” the source said.

    Reyes, who denied involvement in the P10-billion PDAF scam, was said to be the “agent” who got Sen. Gregorio Honasan’s PDAF into one of Napoles’ NGOs.

    “Greg [Honasan’s nickname] did not know how his name was dragged into this. So he ordered a discreet internal investigation and they found out that it was Atty. Gigi who pulled it off,” the source further said.

    “Not only [he]but the other senators whose names were included conducted their respective probe[s]and the results all boiled down to one name — Atty. Gigi,” he added.

    The Times also on Monday reported that Honasan and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Director General Joel Villanueva will be the next officials to be charged in connection with the pork barrel scam.

    Raji Mendoza, legal counsel of pork barrel scam witness Benhur Luy, said his client and Merlina Sunas, another pork scam witness, implicated the two officials, along with several former and incumbent lawmakers in their signed affidavits that are now being evaluated by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

    The respondents face charges of malversation of public funds, not plunder, because the amount involved is less than P50 million.

    Honasan allegedly allocated P15 million of his PDAF to the bogus NGO Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. while Villanueva, former Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list representative, allegedly allocated P4.3 million of his pork barrel to the Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc., also an NGO controlled by Napoles.

    Affidavits of the witnesses are backed by transaction records and audit reports of the Commission on Audit from 2007 to 2009.

    The Manila Times tried to get Honasan’s reaction to Mendoza’s statements but he did not respond.

    Last month, Enrile’s deputy chief of staff, Jose Antonio Evangelista, filed a motion in court taking full responsibility for processing the disbursement of Enrile’s PDAF, in an apparent effort to save Reyes.

    But Justice Secretary Leila De Lima maintained that Reyes was involved in the anomaly.

    Evangelista blamed implementing agencies for allocating the PDAF to dubious NGOs.

    Reyes, one of those first accused of involvement in the scam, returned to the Philippines on April 19 from abroad to tell the Office of the Ombudsman that she had no participation in the release of her former boss’ pork barrel.

    She claimed that her signatures on documents related to the releases of Enrile’s PDAF were forged.

    Reyes and Evangelista were slapped with malversation charges.

    The Ombudsman also found probable cause to file plunder charges against Reyes, along with Enrile and senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.

    Ready for trial
    Also on Monday, Enrile said he is not bothered by the statement of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales that there is enough evidence against him, Estrada and Revilla.

    The senator maintained that he is ready to face anybody and is even willing to face the court alone and defend himself, if he will be allowed.

    “As I’ve said in a fair court, in a fair trial, I’m ready to face anybody. I’ve handled criminal cases, not that I was a criminal lawyer but as a law practitioner. I grew up in the courtroom,” Enrile told reporters.

    Revilla’s lawyer Joel Bodegon slammed Morales for displaying her bias against those who she should be investigating with impartiality and fairness.

    Bodegon said the Ombudsman acted like a judge and has jumped the gun on the Sandiganbayan, which is yet to receive the case of the three senators.

    “She’s making it appear that there is no longer a need for trial. How can we expect fairness? These maneuverings are clear indications that the trumped-up charges are being railroaded because of lack of evidence,” he added.

    The Ombudsman is expected to file its case against Enrile, Revilla and Estrada at the Sandiganbayan this month. Once a case is filed, the anti-graft court will then issue an arrest warrant against the three senators and other individuals included in the charge sheet.

    Since plunder is a non-bailable offense, the senators will automatically be arrested and jailed in a facility that will be assigned by the Sandiganbayan.

    A suspension order will also be issued by the court preventing the lawmakers from performing their duties as legislators.

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    21 Comments

    1. Daniel B. Laurente on

      I think Sen. J. Enrile has the upperhand on this episode, a reason that he is really confident to fight it out in a fair court battle. Battle of the brains not battle of the like in the gangland. He’s been in the government for a quite long period of time and knows the goings very well and knows to deal with it. Stop trying to stir up public hysteria about its silence on the whereabouts of Gigi Reyes if you have nothing to report. Gasgas na yang picture ni Gigi since day one ng suppose scandal na ito. Bring in a new photo of her that looks more attractive so people will look for her.

    2. Keith Bogans on

      Why does it seem that when the DOJ’s attacks on the 3 opposition senators doesnt gain ground or worse, fires back, they pick on Gigi reyes? For media copy? Pathetic.

    3. Renato rentoza on

      Sir, user “inocent” below may be confused. It’s Ruby Tuason indeed that pulled off the Malampaya scam from where she funded her infamous Dasmarinas Village palace. Ruby Tuason is now a State Witness having paid P40 million (a pittance versus the P243 million pesos from Malampaya that represented her personal loot.) Gigi Reyes meanwhile arrived last April if i remember, expressly “to defend herself as she always had defended herself” i wonder though how her vaunted legal prowess and strategy will fair versus an Aquino government that is determined like a tyrant to impose his brand of justice by publicity on a hapless opposition.

    4. And by the way, where is Gigi Reyes now? What is the plan of the ampao government in reference to her participation in the PDAF/DAP/Malampay Fund scams? Attention, Sec. de Lima, calling Sec. de Lima.

      • Timothy Matimitiman on

        Sir, you must be referring to Ruby Tuason who led the raid on the Malampaya fund. P243Million was her personal loot from the fund alone that was supposed to be for typhoon victims. Ruby has been freed by the govt after returning 40Million in exchange for immunity and to pin down legislators, who are the targets of Team PNoy. Atty. Gigi Reyes meanwhile was back in the Philippines since last Holy Week to face any charges according to her. I hope they get a fair trial at the very least. As it is, they are being paraded by Malacanang as if already proven guilty. Surely we can be more civilized.

      • as far as i know atty gigi reyes not implicated in malampaya. you are probably talking about Ruby Tuason who led the looting of funds meant for typhoon victims. P250 million was her take home. Ruby is now a state witness. in contrast Gigi Reyes went home to defend herself as she always had. it seems to me she is being faulted for being enriles protege and legal eagle. as to where the pork scams cooked? look no further than napoles her business partner tuason and cunanan-types in implementing agencies like TLRC and NabCor.

    5. Joel Anthony on

      Easy to say, by an “anonymous source in the senate” — is that you Cayetano? Miriam? why not? You’ve been quiet lately after being tagged in various versions of Napolists and Luy files.

    6. Sounds more like a Cayetano press release — “the 24th Senator” tag was of course Cayetano’s soundbite last Dec 2012 when he along with Miriam, Trillanes and Pia were roiling over the fact they did not get their fair share of bonuses from savings by the office of JPE, distributed to the other senators.

    7. Where is Ruby Tuazon, is she back already? It seems that the goverment cannot convince Gigi Reyes to turn state witness againts the 3 senators, Gigi is also a lawyer who can defend herself unlike Tuazon who preferred to become state witness and return her loot in exchange of her immunity. Tuazon admitted her involvement in PDAF but not in Malampaya but Gigi did admit that she had not participated in this PDAF scam.The puzzle now is , why until now, Guingona or De Lima is questioning Gigi, are they afraid of what will be the statement of Gigi in court ? Maybe a much bigger fish is involve who is under the liberal party of Pnoy or onr of his appointee.

    8. When anyone here comments on anything they always want to remain anonymous, & i think for different reasons. We know if you speak about anyone in the country they hate it & will do anything to get back at you. & for anyone not to believe gigi is implicated is to me beyond reason & common sense. But those attributes are in very short supply in the philippines. A very simple question to those who think she isnt implicated why when this was coming out do you think she fled the country so quickly, exactly the same way as ruby & others. Do you think she was a little upset & just went for a short holiday. She was trying to flee justice, she was scared to face the people, she was scared she would be pout in jail, she wanted to speak with others to make up their stories & help each other. If you dont think any or all of those things were involved then sir you are a fool & anyone will be able to take advantage of you & your money so im so happy its not you in charge of this country.

      • Renato rentoza on

        Sir. I understand completely why Gigi left the country when this broke out. It was not necessary for her to face the sham senate investigations “in aid of legislation” but truly only meant to shame the opposition. It was not necessary for her to be shouted at by a driveling Miriam, a vicious Cayetano and a vain Guingona who all played to the TV cameras, at the expense of those merely implicated. And why should she put up with DeLima’s litany of false accusations and gallery of vile and creepy witnesses? The truth must be ferreted out in real courts. I have to give it to Gigi who returned when it was nearly time for that.

    9. Angel Pulido on

      True, a lawyer like to brag as such and most people tends to believe it especially when the lawyer is known as “de campanilla”. I am not a lawyer, but based on known decisions of judges in court, nobody is above the law especially when the evidence against the respondent is solidly strong for conviction, as long as the presiding judge is not corrupt. Lawyers know the common law citations to this argument. Again, I believe, if evidences to convict a respondent are solidly strong, no lawyer, even god, could make the respondent free.

    10. D. Canastra on

      Is it very hard to contact Atty. Jessica Reyes for her side of your story? It seems to me that is is another case in Philippine media of a story heaping statements of malfeasance against somebody without that person’s side being stated.

    11. rene catalasan on

      I strongly suggest for the Ombudsman to file the plunder case vs. Enrile, Estrada and Revilla once and for all so as to give these three senators to defend themselves in the proper court. Para wala ng dada-dada ang lahat.

    12. renato rentoza on

      This story just sounds like more acts of desperation by the DOJ- De Lima trying to provide logic to their persecution of high profile opposition senators. Source says “on condition of anonymity?” What an appropriate technique in any “trial by publicity.” DeLima has reduced her function so willingly from a justice sec to propagandist which is the fastest route to her 2016 Senatorial bid.

    13. I can’t wait to celebrate when Gigi, Evangelista and the 3 law breakers are charged in the Sandingayan Court!

    14. Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has been invoking the need of legal court evidence meaning proper documents and witnesses with impeccable character be presented by his accusers. In a matter of fact, Enrile wants his case be treated fairly. Question: Did he, as head of the impeachment trial of Renato played fair when he was part and parcel of the railroading activity to convict the man? Like PNoy, Enrile now wants the courts to follow legal standards in dealing with his case but perform and do illegal maneuvers if it is favorable to him.