Santiago wants Enrile’s alleged link to Cagayan project contractor probed
MANILA, Philippines– Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Tuesday asked the Department of Justice to look into Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce-Enrile’s link to a contractor, who had allegedly cornered the bulk of a P5.101 billion for a port project in Cagayan.
In her letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Santiago also requested the DOJ to investigate Enrile’s alleged use of the names of his former chief of staff, Atty. Jessica Lucilla “Gigi” Reyes, and her family “in the disbursement of some P5.101 billion in public funds.”
“Enrile was able to insert this humongous amount in the budget for the Cagayan Freeport for the last five years. It appears that Enrile used their names to surreptitiously morph the Freeport into the main vehicle for smuggling and other illicit operations, which I outline below ,” she said in her letter.
Port Irene, described as the “backbone of Freeport”, reportedly consumed the P5.101 billion funds that included the construction of the breakwater in the province. The builder was Sta. Elena Construction headed by a certain Alice Eduardo as president and chief executive officer. Eduardo was also reportedly the president of Sta. Fe Builders, which shares an office with Sta. Elena Construction at 1625 Leon Guinto St, Manila.
“Here, certain details betray Enrile’s hand,” Santiago said, noting that the Sta. Fe Builders board of directors includes Reyes’ family.
Reyes’ brother, Neal Jose Gonzales, is said to be the chairman of the board while her mother, Maria Cooper, is a board member and one of the directors.
“That is Enrile’s thumbprint right there. The family of his chief of staff are board members of Sta. Fe Builders, which in turn is listed among the directors and officers of a Reyes family corporation, MGNP. Suspiciously, Sta. Fe Builders was removed only two months later from the list of board directors,” Santiago said.
“Thus, it appears that Enrile has used the names of his chief of staff and her family to mask his immense personal financial interests, not only in Sta. Fe Builders, but also in Sta. Elena Construction,” Santiago added.
Apparently, she said, Sta. Elena Construction served as “conduit” for the P5.101 billion that the government spent for the breakwater of Port Irene “basically Enrile’s brainchild when he served as representative.”
Santiago said it also appears that all the while, Eduardo was pursuing “her financial relationship” with Enrile – runs the construction firm which has built foundation works for such huge projects as Pagcor Entertainment City; North Luzon Expressway; SM projects, including the Mall of Asia; four power plants; several traffic interchanges; and several bridge and flood control projects.
More recently, she said, Eduardo reportedly became one of the Filipino partners of Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada.
“If Enrile is inexplicably linked to Eduardo, the logical question follows: Is Eduardo a front woman for Enrile’s business interests? If not, why did Enrile entrust to her a project in his home base, the Cagayan Freeport, with a budget costing the government P5.101 billion?” Santiago asked.
“Based on these facts, I respectfully request that the DOJ investigating panel should pursue this angle,” she further said.
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