MANILA, Philippines—If senators can have a falling out with their spouses or their relatives, what more with their chiefs of staff (COS)?
This is how Sen. Vicente Sotto III sees the blame-passing between Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and his former chief of staff, Gigi Reyes, over the alleged funnelling of Enrile’s pork barrel to fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles.
“That (falling out) can really happen in the Senate and even in ordinary companies. There are cases of spouses having that problem, what more with COS? Some can have problems with their siblings, what more their COS?” said Sotto in an interview with radio dzBB’s Nimfa Ravelo.
Lawyer Enrique de la Cruz said his client, Enrile, did not authorize Reyes, who worked with Enrile for 25 years until she resigned last year, to release his P200 million-a-year Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel to the Napoles NGOs.
Both Enrile and Reyes have been charged with plunder and malversation of public funds.
In her Facebook account, Reyes said that “nothing can be worse than this kind of travesty and betrayal.”
“I don’t know the way their office was run. We do not talk about these things. But trust and confidence between a senator and his or her staff [should] always [be] there because the senator usually arrives late in the office,” said Sotto.
He said that as the alter ego of a senator, a COS could do anything his or her boss could do except file bills and disburse the budget. “There are documents that the senator himself must sign. But for initial papers, the COS can do it. For example, the senator does not usually know the one seeking his or her endorsement for a project, so the COS can handle that,” said Sotto.—Gil C. Cabacungan