Sandiganbayan denies Gigi Reyes' motion to drop plunder charges
MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes will remain in jail and on trial for plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan's 3rd Division denied on Thursday, January 5, the former Senate aide's motion to dismiss the plunder charges against her.
In the resolution signed by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, the court said there was no merit to Reyes' motion because the "facts charged in the Information sufficiently charge the crime of plunder."
Reyes, in her motion, argued that the bill of particulars failed to specifically accuse her of plunder because of the use of "or" and "and/or." This, according to her, "confuses and confounds her" which would hurt her defense.
Citing a Supreme Court decision, the court said "and" and "or" can be used interchangeably and therefore, should not be confusing for Reyes.
The court also noted that the use of the phrase "conspiring with one another" is sufficient.
"It can be clearly seen that what accused Reyes presents in her Motion are her mere self-serving interpretations of what the evidence marked by the prosecution established," the resolution said.
In the motion, Reyes also pointed out that the prosecution already admitted facts that make the information quashable – that her signatures on former senator Juan Ponce Enrile's endorsements were forged; that Benhur Luy's summaries do not reflect that she received money from Enrile's pork barrel; and that Ruby Tuason's testimony that she delivered Enrile's kickbacks lacked details.
In response, the court noted that these facts are precisely what the trial would fully thresh out in due course.
In the first place, the court said, Reyes' motion was filed too late because Section 9, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Court states that a motion for a bill of particulars must be filed before arraignment.
Reyes, who was arraigned in 2014, filed the motion on June 22, 2016.
Reyes also appealed that she be freed based on court rules giving merit to the facts that she was never charged during her more than 20 years of government service, she surrendered to the Sandiganbayan, she is not a flight risk, and she has shown good behavior in jail.
The court said the provision cited by Reyes only applies to cases where a motion to quash is granted, which the court did not do in this instance.
Reyes, Enrile's former chief of staff, has been detained in a Taguig jail since 2014, after being implicated in the former senator's alleged misuse of P172 million worth of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF.) (READ: How things went wrong for Gigi Reyes)
Enrile was freed from hospital arrest in August 2015 when the Supreme Court granted his request to post bail because of humanitarian reasons.
Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the scam, as well as whistleblowers testified that it was Reyes who handled Enrile's anomalous transactions using his pork barrel. – Lian Buan/Rappler.com