Santiago asks Senate blue ribbon committee to summon Gigi Reyes
MANILA, Philippines–Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Monday called on the Senate blue ribbon committee to reconvene and summon Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes to testify on the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam.
In a letter to Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, the committee chair, Santiago said she had signed the partial report, released just before Congress went on a Lenten break, recommending the indictment of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. in connection with the racket.
“However, I believe that nothing in the Senate rules prevents our committee from continuing the present inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the pork barrel scam,” she said.
Santiago said the testimony of Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff, “would serve to round off and clarify certain aspects of the partial report, and that the committee findings could be the proper subject of an addendum or similar subsequent report.”
A member of Guingona’s staff said the committee chair had yet to see Santiago’s letter, as he was out of town. Congress remains on recess and won’t resume its sessions until May 5.
“The truth is there but the whole truth would come out when the key players [come out], and we all know in the Senate she wasn’t only a key player in spending JPE’s pork but she was a key player in negotiating to get it,” Senate Majority Leader Allan Peter Cayetano told the Inquirer.
He noted that the alleged misuse of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) started during the Arroyo administration and continued under the watch of President Aquino.
“If Gigi decides to tell all, it will not just be on the Napoles scam because she knows much much more than that,” Cayetano said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he favored the resumption of the committee hearing “to unearth the full truth” on the alleged siphoning of PDAF allocations to ghost projects of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles. “Also to include non-Napoles NGOs,” Recto added in a text message.
Reyes, who was among those charged with plunder in the alleged PDAF abuses, returned from the United States on Black Saturday purportedly to face the charges against her.
Sen. Grace Poe said Reyes had been named by key witnesses “as having a direct hand in many questionable PDAF transactions.”
“She should also be given the opportunity to answer the allegations against her. A Senate hearing allows the public to weigh in on any different issues and allows even ordinary citizens to form their own judgments on the matter,” Poe said in a text message.
Sen. Francis Escudero said over dzRH radio, “It’s not up to us to reopen the inquiry and force her if she doesn’t have any intention to speak or if she would just rather answer the charges against her in court.”
Sen. JV Ejercito, an Enrile ally, said he favored reopening the committee hearing “as long as it will cover all the NGOs suspected by the COA (Commission on Audit) as bogus and not limit it to the Napoles NGOs only.” With reports from Christian V. Esguerra, Dona Z. Pazzibugan and Leila B. Salaverria