Gigi Reyes appeals denial of motion to junk plunder case
MANILA — The detained chief-of-staff of former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has asked the Sandiganbayan to reverse its denial of her motion to throw out the “vague” plunder charge against her in connection with the multimillion-peso pork barrel scam.
In a 69-page motion for reconsideration, Jessica Lucila Reyes disagreed with the Third Division’s ruling that the Supreme Court’s August 2015 order for prosecutors to clarify the case information through a bill of particulars effectively assumed that the charge was valid.
Reyes said the high court could not have ruled so, because the issue of the validity of the charge was never raised when Enrile petitioned to order prosecutors to detail his involvement in the P172.83-million scheme more specifically.
“It is a well-settled rule that courts of justice have no jurisdiction or power to decide a question not in issue and a judgment outside the issues… (This) is not merely irregular, but extrajudicial and invalid,” the motion read.
Reyes argued that the Supreme Court decision only gave the prosecution the opportunity to cure the defects in the case information through a bill of particulars.
But, for her, the prosecution failed to do just that, because the charge sheet supposedly did not detail the specific “overt criminal acts” committed in the crime of plunder, and specify which of the accused committed the acts.
Reyes also took exception to the court’s statement that it would be “too late in the day” for her to seek more particularity in the charges because of her arraignment in July 2014.
She pointed out that she could not have done so, because at the time, she still had a pending petition with the high tribunal, seeking to nullify the Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause to hale her to court.
“Indeed, there is no need for a party to move for the quashal of an Information that is null and void to begin with,” she said, adding that she had no choice but to abide by the court’s proceedings and undergo arraignment.
She also said the court erred when it set aside certain admissions by the prosecution during the bail hearings that would “destroy the prima facie truth accorded to the allegations.”
The court had sided with the prosecutors’ contention that these matters—such as the forgery of Reyes’ signatures, the discrepancy between the daily disbursement records and her alleged kickbacks, the lack of details in witness Ruby Tuason’s testimony, and her non-involvement in the processing of the pork barrel fund releases—would be best threshed out in the trial proper.
But, Reyes said jurisprudence has held that additional facts not contained in the charge sheet but later admitted or not denied by the prosecution could be invoked in a motion to quash the case.
Contrary to the court’s finding that the “admissions” were only part of her defense, Reyes maintained they were “actually part of the Prosecution’s evidence,” which the court should not ignore and disregard.
Reyes also maintained that it was not through her acts or negligence that alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles got hold of the funds for her personal gain.
She disagreed with the court’s pronouncement that there was no need to detail the participation of each accused since “the use of the words ‘conspiring with one another’ in the Information is sufficient.”
Reyes said the court could not rely on the prosecution’s “bare, general, and conclusory allegation bereft of any essential facts constitutive of any of the predicate acts of plunder.”
Even assuming that the charges were true, Reyes said the five percent kickback she allegedly received would only amount to P21.6 million, way below the P50-million threshold set by law for the offense of plunder.
Reyes remains detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility in Taguig City. SFM