Like Enrile, Gigi Reyes loses appeal to junk plunder case
On the heels of former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s failed bid to have his plunder case thrown out, the Sandiganbayan also denied a similar motion by his detained chief-of-staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes.
In a 43-page resolution dated May 8, the Sandiganbayan Special Third Division junked Reyes’s appeal on the Jan. 3 resolution that first denied her motion to quash.
Reyes had sought the dismissal of the P172.83-million plunder case for failing to detail her involvement in the wide-ranging scheme allegedly concocted by Janet Lim-Napoles in cahoots with legislators. This was despite the Supreme Court ordering prosecutors to clarify the charges through a bill of particulars last year.
But, the court affirmed the validity of the case information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman. The charge properly explained the offense allegedly arose from the receipt of P172.83 million in kickbacks and Reyes allegedly took advantage of her position.
Reyes argued that assuming she received kickbacks, these would have come from the private funds of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, and not public funds. However, the court said this was a matter that should be threshed out by allowing the case to go to a full-blown trial.
The court also rejected her claim that the charge sheet failed to identify the “main plunderer,” pointing to Enrile as the one accused of conspiracy with their co-accused to acquire ill-gotten wealth.
Not a mere opinion
The Sandiganbayan also continued to bind Reyes to the Supreme Court’s pronouncement that Enrile’s request for the bill of particulars to clarify the allegations “presupposes” that the charge was valid to begin with.
This rejected Reyes’s claim that the pronouncement was only an obiter dictum—a mere opinion mentioned in passing that is not necessary to the issues on hand.
“The Supreme Court’s elucidations… cannot be regarded as a mere dictum because the Supreme Court could not have granted the bill of particulars if the assailed Information failed to charge an offense,” the Sandiganbayan resolution read.
Reyes claimed that applying the SC ruling to her clashes with the court’s finding that she could not question the bill of particulars since she was not a party to Enrile’s SC petition.
The court took exception to this claim of inconsistency. It said the SC ruling is still applicable to Reyes’s plea precisely because she was questioning the very same charges as Enrile did.
Just like in the January resolution, the court again denied Reyes’s contention that she should be released from detention in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facility at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
Unanimous this time
This time, concurrence with the resolution penned by Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang was unanimous. Justices Oscar C. Herrera, Jr., Sarah Jane T. Fernandez, and Reynaldo P. Cruz again voted to deny Reyes’s motion.
Justice Alex L. Quiroz — the replacement of dissenting Justice Samuel R. Martires, whom President Rodrigo Duterte appointed in March to the Supreme Court — concurred with the ruling as well.
Reyes’s boss Enrile originally asked for a bill of particulars to clarify the plunder allegations. But, he later claimed the allegations continued to be vague so, just like Reyes, he filed a motion to quash the case. The Sandiganbayan Third Division denied this motion on Jan. 31 and junked his appeal on Apr. 27. CBB/rga
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