Gigi Reyes in a dash to suspend ‘pork’ scam trial
Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the aide of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, has asked the court to suspend her plunder trial over the pork barrel scam that is set to start next week.
In a motion filed before the Sandiganbayan Third Division, Enrile’s chief of staff asked the court to suspend trial proceedings pending the resolution of her petition for certiorari and prohibition with application for temporary restraining order filed before the Supreme Court (SC).
Reyes’ motion filed before the SC on Sept. 2, 2014 seeks to set aside the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause against her for plunder over the pork barrel scam.
Reyes through her lawyers said her motion to set aside her plunder indictment stemmed from the prosecution’s failure to furnish her a copy of the sworn statement of state witness Ruby Tuason, the alleged agent of Senators Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.
Reyes said this deprived her of rebutting Tuason’s accusations that she usually met with the latter in restaurants to collect Enrile’s alleged kickbacks.
Reyes said the court should suspend the proceedings in order not to render moot her petition before the SC.
She added that should the SC take her side and set aside her charges, the court would have wasted its time hearing the plunder case.
Reyes also said the court better wait for the SC to rule on her petition because the high court is expected to release its ruling soon since her petition was filed a year ago.
“Should this Honorable Court therefore proceed to the trial of this case, it would in effect sanction the violation of accused Reyes’ right to due process of law during the preliminary investigation of this case. It would allow a repetition thereof during the trial which would amount to a travesty of justice that this Honorable Court should not tolerate. This Honorable Court should not allow lightning to strike twice,” Reyes said in her motion.
“As a matter, thereof, of judicial courtesy to the Supreme Court… and in order not to render moot and academic the threshold issues raised therein, accused Reyes respectfully implores this Honorable Court to suspend the proceedings in this instant case against her,” she added.
Reyes has also asked the court to set the plunder trial to only once a week, citing the time constraints of her lawyers.
The plunder trial of Senator Enrile is scheduled to start next week, or on Jan. 13 every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday until July 7, according to the anti-graft court’s Third Division clerk of court Atty. Dennis Pulma.
Enrile is accused of receiving P172.8 million in kickbacks from accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles through his alleged agents Tuason and Reyes.
Enrile is out on bail from hospital detention after the SC considered his petition, citing his advanced age and political stature.
READ: While Enrile runs free, Napoles denied bail over ‘pork’ scam
While Enrile was granted bail, Reyes is detained at the female dormitory of the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig pending her plunder trial.
In denying the bail of Napoles and Reyes, the Sandiganbayan in its resolution had taken credence in Tuason’s testimony and said Reyes received the kickbacks from Napoles even though there is still no evidence Enrile directly benefited from it.
The alleged pork barrel scam is an elaborate scheme of converting legislators’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) into ghost projects for kickbacks through Napoles’ bogus foundations.
The antigraft court is also hearing the plunder cases of detained senators Estrada, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., as well as of former APEC Representative Edgar Valdez and dismissed Masbate governor Rizalina Lañete. Estrada and Revilla are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center. Lañete and Valdez, meanwhile, are detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa.
Napoles meanwhile faces multiple counts of plunder, malversation and graft. She was sentenced to life in prison for the serious illegal detention of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy. IDL
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