Miriam: Gigi Reyes should rat on her ex-boss
MANILA - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Thursday said Atty. Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, should turn state witness and tell all against her former boss.
In a speech at the annual postgraduate course of the UP Department of Emergency Medicine, Santiago said Reyes is eligible as a state witness because there is absolute necessity for her testimony with respect to the pork barrel scam and her boss.
"Without her testimony, no other direct evidence will be available for the prosecution to prove plunder against that particular senator. Her testimony could be substantially corroborated in its material points," she said.
She also noted that Reyes does not seem to be the most guilty in the scam and that there is no evidence that the former chief of staff has been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes first made the proposal that the Department of Justice or Ombudsman seriously consider getting Reyes as a state witness.
"Gigi Reyes dealt with [Janet Lim] Napoles directly so she has personal knowledge of the transactions. At the same time, she's the least guilty compared to the principals," he said in a text message.
At least 38 individuals including 3 incumbent senators are facing plunder and malversation raps before the Ombudsman for their alleged links to the P10 billion pork barrel scam. Reyes is one of several accused in the plunder and malversation charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and lawyer Levito Baligod.
The charges accuse Reyes, her former boss, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and other individuals of conspiring to funnel millions of pesos in priority development assistance fund allocations to fake non-governmental organizations set up by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
During the weekend, Reyes said she felt betrayed following statements by Enrile's lawyer that the senator "did not give his blessings" to the actions taken by Reyes with respect to his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Reyes left the country last August 31 ahead of the filing of charges before the Ombudsman.
Conspiracy between Reyes, Enrile
In her speech, Santiago said there seemed to be a conspiracy between Enrile and Reyes.
"Assuming for the sake of argument that giving pork barrel funds to the phony Napoles NGOs was the criminal design of his COS, under our laws, he merged his will into the common felonious intent. The senator can no longer repudiate the conspiracy, after it had already materialized,” Santiago said.
“To free himself from criminal liability, the law requires an overt act on the part of the conspirator. To avail of his defense, the senator should show evidence that he tried to prevent commission of the other PDAF releases, or that he tried to abandon or dissociate himself from his COS during the initial release of funds,” she added.
Santiago explained that the presence of a conspiracy may be inferred from circumstantial evidence.
She noted previous news reports that pork barrel kickbacks intended for Enrile were coursed through Reyes.
Santiago said the theory of conspiracy will serve to place the burden of criminal liability squarely on Enrile, even if only his COS acted directly in arranging for, and the collection of, the kickbacks.
"The mere fact that the crime of plunder took place over a period consisting of many years, by itself shows what the law calls 'implied conspiracy,'" Santiago said. "Hence, it is not necessary that both the senator and the COS commit each and every act constitutive of plunder."