At P30 per meal, no fine dining for Gigi Reyes in prison
Lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes will spend her first weekend as a prisoner in solitary confinement at the basement of the Sandiganbayan building in Quezon City, subsisting on a P30 meal ration. Which is a far cry from the five-star catered fare at the lavish parties that she used to be invited to or host for her relatives and friends.
Reyes, who turned herself in at the antigraft court on Friday night, narrowly avoided sharing a prison cell with ordinary criminals after the Sandiganbayan Third Division issued a minute resolution ordering the warden of the Quezon City Jail (QCJ) to submit a report on the readiness of the prison to ensure Reyes’ safety.
The court had originally released a commitment order for her to be detained at the cramped city jail.
A senior police official said Reyes “cried incessantly” upon learning that the court had committed her to a regular jail full of hardened criminals.
The source, who agreed to talk on condition that he would not be named, said Reyes could have avoided the situation if she had “honored” the agreement she allegedly made with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) last month.
“Attorney Reyes was supposed to surrender to the CIDG so she could be detained at the PNP Custodial Center. But she apparently listened to her lawyers,” the source said.
She could not stop crying when she was told that she would be taken to the city jail, he said.
Dennis Pulma, the Third Division clerk of court, on Saturday said the court gave the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) three days to inform the Sandiganbayan about the condition of the women’s detention dorm of the Quezon City Jail.
“While the court is awaiting the feedback of the BJMP about the adequacy of its facility and the means to secure the accused, she will be detained in the detention facility of the Sandiganbayan,” Pulma said in a phone interview.
He said Reyes’ family and friends have visited her.
“She has also seen her lawyers who are allowed to see her. It’s a given,” Pulma said.
Reyes is the former chief of staff of one of her coaccused, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who is temporarily on hospital arrest at the Philippine National Police General Hospital in Camp Crame after the Sandiganbayan also issued a warrant for his arrest on Friday.
Enrile and Reyes were among the 54 personalities ordered arrested for plunder and graft in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel racket allegedly hatched by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
The Sandiganbayan also issued separate arrest warrants for Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada on the same charges. The two are detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
Reyes, who is about 40 years Enrile’s junior, has been romantically linked to the senator since 1998, an allegation Enrile has vehemently denied.
First Sandiganbayan inmate
Pulma said Reyes was occupying a 23.5-square meter cell in the basement of the Sandiganbayan building.
He said Enrile’s former aide is the first to be detained in the cell, which the antigraft court ordered constructed in December 2013 in line with the government’s “gender sensitivity and development” program.
“Part of the government’s gender sensitivity program is to have separate detention facilities for male and female prisoners. Attorney Reyes is the first to use our gender-responsive detention facility,” Pulma said.
He said the room has a single bed, a small kitchen sink and a toilet. A stand fan had to be brought in since the room’s ceiling fan was broken, he added.
He said the antigraft court would only provide food worth P30 per meal for Reyes, but her visitors are allowed to bring in some food.
On Saturday, she was served with rice and ginataang puso ng saging (heart of banana in coconut milk) for lunch. Reyes only had coffee for breakfast, Pulma said.
An adjacent room outside the tightly guarded cell has been designated as a receiving area where Reyes can meet with visitors, he said.
Inspection by justices
Pulma said Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang, who chairs the Third Division, and division member Associate Justice Alex Quiroz went to inspect Reyes’ cell on Saturday.
He said Tang asked the security personnel about any specific concerns regarding the cell.
“It was a brief routine check as part of her duties as the presiding justice. It was not a visit in particular to accused Attorney Reyes. They never met, they never talked,” Pulma said.
He said a doctor who checked on Reyes said she was “medically OK.”
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