Reyes’ return may delay plunder raps

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Gigi Reyes

Gigi Reyes

The return of Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, one of several personalities accused of plunder in connection with the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), could delay the filing of charges at the Sandiganbayan, lawmakers said on Saturday.

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Reyes, the former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, flew home from the United States early Saturday, eight months after she left Manila.

Early this month, the Office of the Ombudsman approved the filing of plunder charges against Reyes, Enrile, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Janet Lim Napoles and Ruby Tuason before the Sandiganbayan.

Plunder involves the misuse of at least P50 million of state funds and is a non-bailable offense.

In its resolution, the Ombudsman said it found probable cause to indict the three senators, Reyes, Napoles and Tuason for plunder and several counts of graft. The senators were accused of receiving kickbacks from questionable projects funded by their pork barrel.

Enrile reportedly poured P345 million of his PDAF to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or foundations owned or controlled by Napoles, Revilla, P517 million and Estrada, P278 million. From these transactions, Revilla reportedly got P242 million in commissions, Estrada, P242 million and Enrile, P172 million.

The Ombudsman said the PDAF of the senators went to ghost or nonexistent projects.

Tuason, one of the witnesses in the pork scam, claimed that she brought Estrada’s “commissions” to his office in the Senate. She said she never transacted directly with Enrile but that it was Reyes who signed documents to facilitate the release of funds.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago earlier urged Reyes to return so she can testify against her former boss, Enrile.

But Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao believes Reyes’ return “would delay the filing of charges because she could request for a reinvestigation on her case on the ground that she was unable to traverse the complaint by way of counter affidavit.”

Given the gravity of the offense, the Ombudsman may grant Reyes’ request, Aggabao, who is the House Deputy Speaker, said in a text message.

Reyes resigned in January 2013 at the height of the pork barrel controversy. She left the country in August 2013.

Sherwin Tugna, the House Deputy Majority Leader, shared Aggabao’s view that with Reyes back, the filing of the case could be delayed.

Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list said “it might be more prudent for the Office of the Ombudsman to give some time for Mrs. Reyes to provide some information. It would also mean that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will convene again to receive her testimony.”

Other lawmakers welcomed Reyes’ return. “I am glad that she is confronting the case. As you know, flight could imply guilt. What she does next is going to be important either way,” Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said in a text message.

Reyes has filed a motion before the Ombudsman to reinvestigate the plunder charges against her.

Rep. Elpidio Barzaga also lauded Reyes for returning.

“It is a bold move! Her return creates the impression that she is willing to face the music and that she has sufficient evidence to defend herself. Her return is good not only for the prosecution but also for the entire country since we shall be able to hear her version of the pork barrel scam,” he said.

“We cannot definitely say that her return will boost the case of the prosecution but one thing is certain: Attorney Reyes’ return shows her willingness to submit to the jurisdiction of Philippine authorities, face her accusers and seek justice,” Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe added.

Malacanang also welcomed Reyes return.

Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. urged Reyes and other personalities involved in the PDAF issue “to fully disclose what they know.”

“Their willingness to shed light on the ongoing legal proceedings is vital to our people’s quest for justice,” Coloma said in a statement.

Business class

After arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 2 on Philippine Airlines flight from San Francisco, Reyes was escorted by two security personnel out of the terminal.

Immigration sources said Reyes, a business class passenger, was wearing an orange outfit when she was seen queuing at the Immigration counter for clearance.

Reyes was implicated by Benhur Luy who has testified before the Senate that Enrile, Estrada and Revilla released PDAF allocations to businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, suspected to be the mastermind of the scam.

Another witness said Reyes received millions of pesos in cash apparently in Enrile’s behalf at a house somewhere in Quezon City.

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9 Comments

  1. cant you see who is saying this canard– a congressman from Cagayan?
    Giorgidi Aggabao—
    the dog is bidding the wishes of his master—
    chimed in by a chorus of congressmen
    who never distinguished themselves in criminal court!
    klaro ito, bakit give their opinions any importance!?

  2. eltee mulawin on

    >>> nakalipas na muli ang Holy Week na taon-taon ay ginugunita sa buong mundo na mga bansang may mga Christian mamamayan tulad ng Pilipinas. May nagpapahirap sa sarili o nagpapasan at nagpapapako sa krus taon-taon at ang iba ay sila-sila 0 siya at siya pa rin hanggang sa kaya pa ng kaniyang katawan.
    >>>PERO ANG TANONG… DAPAT BANG GUNITAIN SA GANITONG PAMAMARAAN ANG DIWA NG “HOLY WEEK”. NA KUNG TUTUUSIN O SA KATOTOHANAN ANG PANGYAYARI AY HINDI SA PILIPINAS KUNDI SA BANSANG ISRAEL.
    >>>HINDI MASAMA GUNITAIN ANG NAGING HIRAP NA DINANAS NI HESUS AYON SA BANAL NA AKLA, PERO GAWIN COMMERCIAL AT ATTRACTION SA TURISMO AY MALI.
    >>> KUNG NAIS NA RIN LANG GUNITAIN ANG PAG-HIHIRAP NI HESUS, DAPAT AT TAMA LAMANG NA GUNITAIN DIN KUNG BAKIT AT PAANO SIYA ANG IPINALIT SA MAGNANAKAW NA SI BARABAS.
    >>>ANG PUSAKAL NA MAGNANAKAW NA SI BARABAS ANG PINILI AT ISINIGAW NI CAIPAS AT NG KANYANG TAUHAN NA PALAYAIN AT ANG IPAKO SA KRUS AY SI HESUS. ANG MGA MAMAMAYAN NA DATI AY PANIG KAY HESUS AT SILA RIN MISMO ANG NAGPASYA, KAYA NAMAN ANG NAGING HATOL NI PLATO AY UMAYON SA INGAY AT SIGAW NG MGA TAUHAN NI CAPAS AT NG MGA SUNUD-SUNURAN MGA TAO.
    >>>ganito rin ang sitwasyon ng ating bansa, sa Congress maraming mga Herodes, sa DoJ at Ombudsman mayroon din Caipas at sa mga Korte -mayroon din tuald ni Pontius Pilate o Pilato, at mga NBI- tulad din sa tauhan ni Caipas.

  3. I would not delay proceedings in this case because of her return. Its a non bailable offence so put her in jail until it comes to court. How long has she had to think of what to say. She fled the country because she knew the gravity of the charges against her. She has had ample time to speak with authorities but she chose not to. Let her give her evidence in open court, & maybe a stint in jail will loosen her tongue & help her speak the truth. Stop showing favour to these people, they arnt special & if they have been stealing these moneies from the country then need to be punished with the full extent of the law. She is not an honourable person, she fled the country knowing what was being said always remember that, she could have stayed & give her side of things, but she has waited to see what has been said & i have no doubt she has been in contact with others to advise her on what to say. I dont know which way she will go but i wonder if she will reques to become a state witness.

  4. Lintek talaga ang mga kawatan na ito oo. Ginagawang moro-morohan lang ng mag kawatan na ito ang ating hustisya. Lintek lang ang walang ganting mga kawatan kayo.

  5. strike.terminal on

    Sino ang lilinlangin nyo, taong bayan? Meron na iyang kasunduan kaya lumutang iyang si Gigi Reyes na tulad ni Mrs. Ruby Tuazon. Sinong gunggong ang papayag na makulong? Gigi Reyes will might give testimony against her cohorts to pin down Johnny Enrile. After the testimony she’ll apply for Witness Protection & leave the country. Atty. Reyes fully knew how dangerous her life would be after the testimony.

    The people of the Philippines with burning desire, wants to witness the conviction of all involved personalities ASAP and directly be sent to jail.