JPE's alleged 'affair' back in spotlight

Posted at 01/24/2013 1:12 PM | Updated as of 01/24/2013 1:14 PM

MANILA - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he's still convincing his chief of staff Jessica 'Gigi' Reyes to take back her resignation which was triggered by insinuations of an extra-marital affair.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Gigi Reyes

“Eh ayaw na niya dahil kung ano-ano sinasabi nila, na there is an illicit relation eh. Mahirap naman yon, babae yon. Kung katabi ko si [UNA bet] Sol, baka mamaya nililigawan ko na sya? Yan mga yan, kasama ko sa sortie sortie, parang mga anak ko, inaakbayan ko,” he told ABS-CBN's Zen Hernandez on Thursday.

He said people may have misinterpreted the way he treats Reyes, his long-time chief of staff.

“Kasama mo sa opisina yon araw-araw. I don’t treat them as servants. I take them to lunch with me,” he added.

He confirmed that Reyes submitted her resignation after she was criticized by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano in a privilege speech on Wednesday.

"She gave a resignation but it was irrevocable. I'm still convincing her to reconsider," he said.

Enrile said he needs Reyes to return because she knows the administrative work in the Senate.

1998 adultery rap

Rumors of an alleged relationship between Enrile and Reyes started as early as 1998. A Chicago Tribune article in January 30, 1998 revealed Enrile’s wife, Cristina, had walked out on him after charging adultery.

“The ‘other woman’ is reported to be Gigi Gonzales-Reyes, chief of staff of his Senate office and about 30 years his junior,” the report read.

A story by Manila Standard columnist Joem Macaspac in 1998 also focused on the alleged affair. It said Reyes worked for the Ponce Enrile, Cayetano, Reyes and Manalastas law firm right after law school and had made many enemies.

It said Reyes and her husband were set to file libel charges against a tabloid that came out with the story.

Who’s running the Senate?

In a privilege speech Wednesday, Cayetano focused on Reyes’ unusual clout in the Senate, saying the chief of staff attends Senate caucuses and joins the discussions like a fellow senator.

He also noted Reyes signs orders authorizing the disbursement of millions of pesos in Senate funds including several handwritten memos that blocked the release of funds to Cayetano and 3 other senators.

Cayetano chastised Reyes for calling some senators “hypocrites” after he complained that the P250,000 checks issued by Enrile’s office were illegal. Reyes had earlier told radio DZMM that Cayetano had never complained about receiving cash gifts in previous years.

The senator said Reyes and Enrile are close to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband, Mike Arroyo. He also said Reyes’ best friend is a relative of Justice Dante Tinga, the political nemesis of Cayetano’s wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano.

Cayetano again called for an independent audit of the Senate’s funds, saying that the Upper Chamber cannot operate under a cloud of doubt.

Enrile said he is not worried over his credibility, and is confident he will vindicate himself. He reiterated that he welcomes an audit on the Senate's funds.

He also defended Reyes' use of the word "hypocrite" against Cayetano, et al.

"That is a characterization out of I think he is a hypocrite. You know why? Because [Cayetano] was chairman of the accounts committee under Sen. Manny Villar and what I am doing now is not different from what they were doing. He knows it was his work. If you pretend that something is wrong when there is none simply because you got less....is that not hypocrisy? If it is wrong or unconstitutional, why receive it? Why do you use it?" he noted.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said he was unable to watch the Senate brouhaha yesterday but threw his support for Enrile.

Senatorial candidate Ernesto Maceda, meanwhile, said Cayetano only wants to pick a fight to catch media attention. -- with a report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News