Simultaneous bail hearing, plunder trial for Gigi Reyes ordered
The Sandiganbayan has ordered the bail hearing of detained lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the chief of staff of former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, to be held simultaneously with the resumption of her trial for plunder over the alleged pork barrel scam.
During the scheduled hearing on Reyes’ motion for bail on Monday, division chairperson Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang conferred with the parties, who agreed with the proposal to hold the resumption of Reyes’ trial proper and the hearings on her bail motion simultaneously starting June 21.
Tang said Reyes’ motion for bail which was submitted recently following the court’s resolution ordering the resumption of trial would eat up much of the court’s time if it would be heard separately from the trial proper.
“The petition for bail would be summary in nature. If it will hear this separately, it will eat much of time of the court, when they both refer to one case,” Tang said.
“In consideration of Reyes’ bail ad cautelam, the court informed the parties that it will hear Reyes’ motion for bail simultaneously with the presentation of evidence in chief of the prosecution,” she added.
The prosecution said it would present 15 witnesses to prove that the evidence against Reyes is strong in order for the court to deny the bail motion
Reyes’ lawyer Anacleto Diaz said their bail motion should be granted especially because his client had been “languishing in jail for the past three years.”
The court set the resumption of Reyes’ plunder trial after it denied Reyes’ motion to quash the plunder information.
The court set the resumption of Reyes’s plunder trial on the following dates, all starting 8:30 a.m. – June 21, 22, 28, 29; Aug. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31; Sept. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28; Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26; Nov. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, and 29.
Her trial with accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, which started in 2016, had been suspended following a mix-up in the marking of evidence.
Meanwhile, the plunder case of Enrile is only about to start, as the court set more preliminary conference dates throughout July all at 9 a.m. The proceedings of Enrile’s case were suspended after he took to the Supreme Court and won a bill of particulars from the Office of the Ombudsman to help him prepare his defense.
Enrile’s pre-trial is tentatively set on Aug. 15 at 1:30 p.m.
In her bail ad cautelam, Reyes said there is no strong evidence against her on her alleged involvement in the scheme of pilfering kickbacks from lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF).
Reyes cited her constitutional right to be granted bail if there is no strong evidence against her.
“In the instant case, accused Reyes has consistently maintained that she is entitled to bail because no evidence of her guilt for the crime of plunder, as charged by the prosecution, exists,” Reyes said in her motion.
“There being thus no evidence, let alone strong evidence that accused Reyes is guilty of the crime charged, accused Reyes is entitled to bail as a matter of right,” she added.
Reyes said she filed a motion for bail even as her trial for plunder is underway without waiving her right to file other remedies, such as an appropriate petition before the Supreme Court to question the Sandiganbayan’s denial of her motion to quash the plunder information.
“Wherefore, accused Jessica Lucila Reyes, respectfully prays ad cautelam that this Honorable Court admit her (right) to bail in such amount as the Honorable Court may fix, and that an order for her temporary release from detention be issued,” the motion read.
While Enrile was allowed by the Supreme Court to post bail, Reyes, who was accused of serving as Enrile’s agent, remains detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig since her surrender in 2014.
Enrile was accused of receiving P172.8 million in kickbacks from his alleged ghost pork barrel projects.
In its resolution denying the bail motion of Janet Lim-Napoles, the accused pork barrel scam mastermind, the Third Division said there was “compelling evidence” Reyes received the kickbacks for Enrile from Napoles.
The court gave credence to the testimony of socialite Ruby Tuason, another alleged agent of Enrile and co-accused Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, that she delivered kickbacks from Napoles. Tuason had testified that she delivered Enrile’s share of the commissions to Reyes.
“Although there is no direct evidence that Senator Enrile received the kickbacks/commissions/rebates repeatedly given by accused Napoles to his middlepersons, there is more than compelling evidence, consisting of the testimony of Ruby Tuason, that Atty. Reyes received Senator Enrile’s share,” the court said.
“The information in this case alleges that Senator Enrile and Atty. Reyes conspired with each other ‘and with Janet Lim-Napoles’ in amassing, accumulating and acquiring ill-gotten wealth,” it added. JE/rga
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