Palace welcomes Gigi's plan to surrender

Posted at 06/24/2014 4:19 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang cannot assess the importance of the testimony of Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said it will depend on the defense tactic that she would employ.

“So we will leave it with her and her lawyers to decide how to defend herself,” he said.

Lacierda said Malacañang welcomed reports that Reyes would surrender once the court issues an arrest warrant against her.

“Any action by the respondents that will make the process expedited in terms of their voluntary surrender will certainly be welcomed,” he said. “At least, it alleviates our security sector of the burden of trying to look for her and bringing her to the court.” The Office of the Ombudsman has charged Reyes with plunder before the Sandiganbayan, along with other personalities linked to the pork barrel scam.

A hold departure order has been issued against her and the other personalities.

Reyes is accused of accepting commissions from agents of Janet Lim-Napoles. She is believed to be the only person who can directly link Enrile to the alleged fund misuse.

Sources from Reyes’ camp were quoted as saying that she has been weighing her options since she returned from abroad last April.

Previous reports said Reyes is set to turn herself over to authorities once the Sandiganbayan issues a warrant of arrest.

At the Department of Justice, Secretary Leila de Lima said the issuance of arrest warrants against Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada was expected.

“As what I have been saying, we would not refer the complaints to the ombudsman if we were not convinced that there is basis for these cases,” she said. “The same goes with the ombudsman: they would have not filed the cases before the Sandiganbayan if they were not convinced of, at the very least, existence of probable cause.”

De Lima said the existence of probable cause is the only requirement for filing criminal cases in court.

“That (probable cause) is the only basis for the issuance of warrant of arrest,” she said.

The Sandiganbayan’s judicial determination of probable cause in the case of Estrada and Revilla and other accused is a vindication of the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), De Lima said.

Four accused in the pork barrel scam have asked the Sandiganbayan to reduce the P30,000 bail each for their temporary liberty.

Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) employees Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare said they are poor and ordinary government employees who do not have the financial resources to pay the full amount.

Facing separate 11 to 16 counts of graft in three separate divisions of the anti-graft court, each of them will have to pay a maximum of P480,000.

Through a motion, the DBM officials asked the Third Division yesterday to reduce their bail as they did in the First and Fifth Divisions, which had granted the requests.

National Livelihood Development Center (NLDC) employee Gregoria Buenaventura was also allowed to post a lower bail bond of P90,000 instead of P240,000 for the same reason. She is facing eight counts of graft as a co-accused of Revilla at the First Division.

Janet Lim-Napoles and lawyer Richard Cambe have also asked the Sandiganbayan to grant them bail, just like Enrile, Revilla and Estrada, their co-accused in one plunder case.

Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David said he will file petitions for bail before the First, Third and Fifth Divisions where his client is facing separate plunder cases.

Surrendering hours after Revilla did last Friday, Cambe is also claiming that the evidence against him is not strong. – With Edu Punay, Michael Punongbayan