Miriam: JPE's presence in Tuason-Reyes meetings proves guilt

Posted at 02/15/14 3:51 PM

MANILA -- Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said the mere presence of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on occasions when his former chief of staff, Atty. Gigi Reyes, met with Ruby Tuason is enough to prove his guilt in the pork barrel scam "to a moral certainty."

In a statement released on Saturday, Santiago said under the principle of conspiracy in criminal law, even if Tuason stated that Enrile did not say anything inculpatory, his mere presence is sufficient to prove that he approved of their illegal transactions over his pork barrel funds.

"Even assuming for the sake of argument that Enrile was just sitting or drinking coffee or smiling fatuitously, his mere presence is sufficient to convince the court to a moral certainty that he was the mastermind pulling the strings of Reyes, so that they could profit from the illicit scam," Santiago said.

"In the first place, why would a senator go out of his way to pick up his chief of staff? It is widely known that Enrile kept Reyes as his concubine. Why would he pick up his concubine when she was dealing with a conduit for illegal pork barrel releases? Human experience teaches that there was no reason for Enrile to be present, unless it was to assure Tuason that he approved of the illegal transaction, and that he authorized his chief of staff to act on his behalf," she added.

She also said the Penal Code provides that "a conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it."

She explained that the law merely requires the accused to perform an overt act in pursuance of the conspiracy.

She quoted the 1996 case of Pecho v. People, where the Supreme Court ruled: "Such an overt act may consist of active participation in the actual commission of the crime itself, or of moral assistance to his co-conspirators by being present at the time of the commission of the crime or by exerting moral ascendancy over the other co-conspirators by moving them to execute or implement the conspiracy."

During last Thursday's Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the pork barrel scam, Tuason reiterated her sworn statement that Enrile was sometimes in their company.

"Enrile would join us, when we are almost done, for a cup of coffee... He did not stay long. After coffee, he would leave and sometimes he would come to pick up Atty. Gigi Reyes," Tuason had said in her affidavit.

She, however, did not categorically say that the senator was indeed aware of their transactions. She said she only had an "inkling" that Enrile knew of what she and Reyes talked about.

According to Santiago, she purposely left Tuason alone during her interpellation when the latter was insisting on Enrile's silence during the meetings.

She said she did not want Tuason to know that she had just revealed important testimony crucial to the conviction of Enrile.

"It is now obvious that Tuason was covering up for Enrile, so that the entire criminal liability for plunder could be shifted to Reyes alone. That is devious of Tuason, and heartless of Enrile. He is ready to sacrifice Reyes to save himself," Santiago said.

"On TV and in novels, the hero always makes a big fuss when he scores a point during cross-examination. In reality the trial lawyer prefers to accept the testimony without fuss, so that the witness will not be able to change the damaging testimony in the course of the cross-examination. Then the lawyer pounces on it by emphasizing the damaging testimony only when he submits his final memorandum to the judge," she added.

Enrile, whom whistleblowers have tied to the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, marked a milestone on Friday as he turned 90 and the oldest sitting senator in Philippine history.