Sandigan denies bail bid of Juan Ponce Enrile staff chief

THE Sandiganbayan Third Division has denied the bail petition of plunder accused Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, chief of staff of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, citing the existence of a strong evidence against her.

The 16-page decision stressed there is no reason to release Reyes on bail after the presence of solid evidence against her based on the documents and the testimonies of prosecution witnesses that were presented during the bail hearing.

“Since plunder is a capital offense, the grant of bail is therefore discretionary and not a matter of right. In view of the foregoing, this court finds the evidence against accused-movant Reyes to be strong,” said the Sandiganbayan ruling penned by Associate Justice Bernelito R. Fernandez with Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Sarah Jane T. Fernandez concurring.

Reyes allegedly conspired with Enrile, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and long-time Napoles employees Ronald John Lim and Raymund de Asis in allegedly defrauding the government in the sum of P172,834,500 representing kickbacks siphoned off from the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Enrile was released temporarily from detention by the Supreme Court (SC) on humanitarian grounds.

The anti-graft court rejected the argument of Reyes that the testimonies of whistleblowers Marina Sula, Merline Suñas, Benhur Luy, and Ruby Tuason as well as that of Commission on Audit (CoA) Director Susan Garcia were weak to determine her alleged participation in the plunder case.

The ruling said the testimonies of the whistleblowers should be considered even if Luy, Sula, and Suñas acknowledged that they did not personally meet Reyes in relation to PDAF transactions.

“With the detailed testimonies of the whistleblowers on how the entire scheme took place and despite the extensive cross-examination conducted on them, their testimonies remain trustworthy,” said the ruling.

But the magistrates claimed that the testimony of Tuason that she allegedly personally delivered kickbacks to Reyes damaged her defense.

“This Court …took exceptional noted of her (Tuason’s) confirmations that she made deliveries of kickbacks to accused-movant Reyes in the years 2006 to 2009 and that she made these deliveries in coffee shops and restaurants and sometimes in the house of accused-movant Reyes,” said the Sandigabayan.

“Since plunder is a capital offense, the grant of bail is therefore discretionary and not a matter of right. In view of the foregoing, this court finds the evidence against accused-movant Reyes to be strong,” the anti-graft division added.