Gigi Reyes wants Tang to take hands off pork scam cases
Like her boss, former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Jessica Lucila Reyes has sought the inhibition of Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang from her pork barrel cases.
In a 35-page motion dated June 9, Reyes accused Tang of committing grave abuse of discretion and cherry-picking jurisprudence to justify the January denial of her motion to quash the plunder charge.
Reyes also accused Tang of depriving her of due process when it issued findings regarding her culpability in the scam in resolving the bail proceedings that only involved alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Just a few weeks before on May 26, Enrile sought Tang’s recusal from their plunder case. Unlike Reyes who assailed the way Tang issued her resolutions, Enrile’s concerns had to do with the justice’s alleged undue haste as well as the possible influence arising from her appointment by President Benigno Aquino III.
Under the internal rules of the Sandiganbayan, the chairperson’s inhibition would lead to reraffling of the plunder case to another division.
In her motion, Reyes explained that the court’s Third Division, in denying her quashal motion, cited the Supreme Court’s August 2015 ruling that the case is presupposed to be valid when Enrile filed a motion for bill of particulars to specify the details.
Yet, the Tang-led court division “in the same breath” ruled that Reyes could not question the bill of particulars provided by the prosecution as a result of the SC’s decision in Enrile’s favor. This was because Reyes was not a party to the SC case.
Reyes said Tang’s alleged inconsistency in applying the SC’s 2015 ruling “cannot but give rise to the understandable perception to bias that erodes confidence in the impartiality of the Honorable Chairperson.”
“With due respect, the Honorable Chairperson [Tang] cannot unilaterally choose and apply handpicked portions of the Supreme Court Decision in the Enrile case to accused Reyes whenever convenient and supportive of her position, and jettison and cast aside other equally important portions of the same Decision when they are contrary to her stance,” the motion read.
On another point, Reyes cited the findings issued by the Tang-led court against her when it resolved in March 2016 the bail petition that only involved alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
She said the court deprived her of due process and effectively “pre-judged and pre-determined the guilt of accused Reyes,” rendering her “severely handicapped” in the plunder case.
It may be recalled that the March 2016 ruling stated that the prosecution was able to establish that “Senator Enrile through Atty. Reyes, and Atty. Reyes herself, repeatedly received kickbacks/commissions/rebates” to justify the denial of Napoles’ bail plea.
“The Honorable Chairperson [Tang] made specific findings of guilt against accused Reyes, even if she was not a party to, nor did she participate in the hearings conducted on accused Napoles’ Petition for Bail,” the motion read.
The motion argued the Tang-led court should have solely relied on evidence linking Napoles to the “mephistophelian” scheme to plunder Enrile’s Priority Development Assistance Fund proceeds without passing on the evidence against Reyes.
“Accused Reyes respectfully submits that the better course for the Honorable Chairperson is to disqualify herself. In this way, she avoids being misconstrued and faith and confidence in the impartial administration of justice is not impaired,” Reyes concluded.