When Enrile, Reyes, Napoles, Tuason met in court
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and his former chief of staff, Gigi Reyes, succeeded in getting the Sandiganbayan to defer the start of the pretrial phase of their plunder trial involving the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
The Sandiganbayan Third Division canceled the scheduled pretrial after Reyes’ lawyer protested that state prosecutors have yet to finish marking their evidence and had not presented the original documents during their off-court preliminary conference.
Marking the evidence as in “Exhibit 1-A” means to facilitate the orderly presentation of evidence at trial.
Enrile’s lawyer said they would not participate in the pretrial as they had a petition before the Supreme Court to reverse the Sandiganbayan’s decision to deny Enrile bail.
Enrile and Reyes are accused of taking millions of pesos in kickbacks from ghost projects funded by the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, from 2004 to 2010.
The two were ordered by the antigraft court to appear for the start of the pretrial.
Enrile and Reyes arrived separately with their jail guards, and sat on opposite sides of the courtroom without acknowledging or even looking at each other.
The 91-year-old senator, who was wearing a barong, is detained at the Philippine National Police General Hospital in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Reyes, 52, wearing a yellow blouse and black pants, is detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology female dormitory in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
Their coaccused, Janet Lim-Napoles, who allegedly orchestrated the scam using a string of bogus nongovernment organizations, followed them into the courtroom but sat apart from Enrile and Reyes.
Napoles was there for the continuation of the hearing of her bail petition.
Reyes’ lawyer Anacleto Diaz said they would not be able to mark their own counterevidence until the prosecution has finished marking their documentary evidence and listing their witnesses.
The prosecution panel admitted that it was not yet finished with the marking of evidence, a full year since the preliminary conference started.
Diaz also said that the prosecution panel did not present original documents as evidence.
Associate Justice Samuel Martires said insisting on the presentation of original copies of the documentary evidence would delay the start of the trial proper until January.
“What are you waiting for, the next election?” he asked. But Diaz insisted on seeing the original documents to verify their authenticity.
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang eventually canceled the pretrial.
“Considering that the preliminary conference of this case is not yet terminated, the pretrial is canceled without prejudice to the conduct of preliminary conference,” she said.
The court did not set a deadline for the prosecution and defense to finish their off-court preliminary conference.
Enrile and Reyes immediately left the courtroom.
State witness Ruby Tuason was called in to continue her testimony in Napoles’ bail hearing.
Tuason has claimed that it was Reyes who received the kickbacks for Enrile that came from Napoles.
Enrile doing a lot reading
Outside the courtroom, Enrile refused to comment on his case but replied when reporters asked how he was.
“I’m OK. I’m doing a lot of reading, studying geography, capital generation, power competition and currency development,” he said.
He said he was not able to watch President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address since he did not have a television set in his place of detention.
Enrile also said he did not see his former chief of staff inside the courtroom.
“I didn’t see her. I can’t see from my back,” he said.