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WHAT WENT BEFORE

01:38 AM January 21, 2016

Lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s former chief of staff, is a coaccused in the plunder and graft cases against the senator in connection with the pork barrel scam, which was allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

In the cases filed in the Sandiganbayan in June 2014, the two were accused of pocketing millions of pesos in kickbacks from ghost projects allegedly funded by the senator’s allocation from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2004 to 2010.

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Napoles is also facing plunder and graft charges in all the five divisions of the Sandiganbayan with several lawmakers, including Enrile, Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada and their aides, as coaccused. She is alleged to be the brains of the P10-billion pork barrel scam which channeled PDAF allocations to her fake nongovernment organizations.

In August 2013, whistle-blower Benhur Luy, a relative and bookkeeper of Napoles, said that Napoles’ main contacts with Enrile’s office were Reyes and Jose Antonio Evangelista.

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Reyes, however, denied knowing Luy.

“I challenge him to prove his claim that I am their contact whoever he was referring to. I had encountered Ms Janet Lim-Napoles on several occasions before, but I’ve never met Benhur Luy,” Reyes said at the time.

Reyes disappeared for eight months after the pork barrel scandal broke out and returned home on April 19, 2014, to face the plunder charges against her.

In February 2014, Ruby Tuason, who confessed she arranged lavish parties for Napoles and later became her bagman, told the Senate blue ribbon committee that she had handed millions of pesos in kickbacks to Reyes in posh restaurants or at her home.

Tuason, a former Malacañang social secretary, gave no indication that Reyes turned over the money to Enrile, leaving it to the senators to conclude that the money was intended for Enrile and that Reyes gave it to him.

In August 2014, Assistant Audit Commissioner Susan Garcia said during a hearing on Napoles’ bail petition that Enrile wrote the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2012 to confirm that he had authorized Reyes and her deputy as his representatives in business involving his pork barrel.

Documents from the COA that formed part of the evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation showed that Enrile admitted that it was his signature that appeared in the documents, which authorized Reyes to conduct transactions involving his PDAF allocations.

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In September 2014, Senate President Franklin Drilon recounted how Napoles “moved around” during a birthday party for Reyes at Makati Shangri-La Manila hotel in October 2012. Drilon recalled the event after photographs of him and his wife with Napoles at Reyes’ party went viral on social media.

Reyes worked for Enrile during his two terms as senator—from July 1995 to June 2001 and from 2004 to January 2013—when she resigned after publicly accusing in a radio interview that Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was a “hypocrite” for criticizing Enrile’s alleged uneven distribution of the senators’ Christmas bonuses.

Before her resignation, Reyes, 53, was widely regarded as the “25th senator” for her purported influence in Congress as a stern, no-nonsense aide to the 90-year-old Enrile. Compiled by Ana Roa, Inquirer Research

Sources: Inquirer Archives

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TAGS: Gigi Reyes, Janet Napoles, Nation, News, pork barrel scam, Sandiganbayan
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