Gigi Reyes’ bid to junk case junked
The plunder case against former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s detained chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, may finally head to trial, after the Sandiganbayan denied her motion to quash what she said was a “confusing” charge sheet.
A special division of five justices affirmed the validity of the case information, which prosecutors had to clarify through a bill of particulars upon the Supreme Court’s (SC) order in August 2015.
Reyes had sought the dismissal of the P172.83-million plunder case for allegedly failing to detail her involvement in the wide-ranging scheme allegedly concocted by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles in cahoots with legislators.
Although prosecutors complied with the order, she said the bill of particulars only made a “judicially-declared vague and nebulous Information even more confusing.”
Her boss, Enrile, had separately sought a dismissal of his case, citing the prosecution’s purported failure to truly clarify the charges. His motion remains pending.
At least in Reyes’ case, the court’s Special Third Division agreed with prosecutors that the high court “effectively ruled that the Information in this case validly charges an offense” when it granted Enrile’s petition for the clarification.
In a 32-page resolution dated Jan. 3, the court said Reyes’ arguments regarding the lack of specifics in the details are “not relevant” anymore because the bill of particulars “presupposes a valid Information… albeit under vague terms.”
“The Supreme Court would not have granted Enrile’s motion for a bill of particulars if the Information were not valid or if the averments in the Information failed to charge an offense,” read the resolution penned by Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and Third Division chair Amparo Cabotaje-Tang.
The court also stressed that the SC already noted the prosecution’s bill of particulars through a June 2016 resolution. As Enrile took no action regarding the SC resolution, the Sandiganbayan said this meant that “the particulars desired were met by the prosecution.”
Since Reyes was not a party to the SC case, she cannot question the bill of particulars submitted there, the resolution said.
Still, the Sandiganbayan pointed out that the charge sheet properly contains the allegations that could probably establish the elements of plunder.
These elements include: the fact that Enrile and Reyes were then public officers; the accusation that they received kickbacks from Napoles; and the alleged accumulation of P172.83 million in ill-gotten wealth.
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