MANILA, Philippines – After lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes’ allegations of betrayal, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile finally set the record straight on how he views his resigned chief of staff’s involvement in the pork barrel scam.
In the course of responding to the privilege speech of his rival Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Enrile revealed his thoughts on Reyes’ role in the scandal.
“I’m sad that she (Santiago) attacked some innocent people who are not here, especially my chief of staff which I believe is innocent of all the charges made against her,” Enrile said after Santiago’s speech on Wednesday, December 4.
Enrile’s statement comes after Reyes decried statements of her former boss’ lawyer Enrique dela Cruz that Enrile did not authorize Reyes to endorse NGOs and that she should be held liable for any violation of the law.
“Nothing can be worse than this kind of travesty and betrayal,” Reyes said in a statement last September.
Enrile later said he will not betray his people but then did not expound on Reyes’ innocence.
Reyes and Enrile are among 38 individuals accused of a conspiracy to channel pork barrel funds to fake non-governmental organizations of alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
During Santiago’s privilege speech, she called Enrile a “psychopathic hypersexualized serial womanizer” and accused him of having an affair with Reyes, a charge Enrile has denied. The senator cited a 1998 Chicago Tribune report on Enrile’s supposed affair with Reyes that angered his wife Cristina.
Santiago referred to Reyes as Enrile’s “concubine.”
Santiago’s speech was in retaliation for Enrile’s privilege speech on November 27, where he called her a “cuckoo, inane obsessive hater” and “the grandmama of all falsehood fabricators” for saying he was the scam mastermind.
Enrile took the podium, saying “She only confirmed everything that I said in my privilege speech regarding her mental health.”
Even before Santiago’s speech, Enrile told reporters he does not mind if his critic will bring up his love life.
“I will admit I’m a Romeo. Okay lang, kasalanan ko ba iyon, gwapo ako?” (Is it my fault I am handsome?)
‘I never oppressed anyone’
Enrile also belied Santiago’s statement that the justice department must investigate him for command responsibility for death and disappearances during martial law. Enrile was defense minister then.
“My record about martial law is open to the scrutiny of anybody. Even historians can check them. As I said in my speech, I walk throughout this country daytime and nighttime and I feel safe because I never oppressed anybody,” he said.
Enrile also addressed Santiago’s allegations that he runs a “gambling and smuggling empire” at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), which was created with a law Enrile sponsored.
“I have no interest there except to develop the place in order to give jobs to the people where I came from and this chamber is open to scrutinize the operations there, there’s nothing being hidden from anybody. The law that was passed and attributed to me was debated in Congress and passed in the House of Representatives where I was at that time and this Senate.”
“I must say anybody can check the operations in CEZA to find out whether there is any smuggling there or any shenanigan, hanky-panky of any company operating in that place,” Enrile added.
Envelope of documents vs Miriam
Enrile came prepared for Santiago’s speech, bringing a thick brown envelope. He initially refused to tell reporters what was in it, yet after Santiago’s speech, he said he had incriminating documents from Santiago’s 1989 confirmation hearing as agrarian reform secretary.
“Even [former] Ombudsman Conrado Vasquez said in his decision, because our fellow senator was punished. When she was in the Commission on Immigration and Deportation, she suspended her employees for 60 days. After that, she even extended the suspension. The Ombudsman intervened and said this was against due process and it’s oppression,” Enrile said.
“It’s there in the records of the confirmation hearing. If only she responded to my speech, I would ask her point by point what happened in the hearing. There is so much more that has yet to be exposed but I will no longer bring up because I respect her answers,” he said.
Enrile said Santiago failed to respond to his speech even if she talked for 45 minutes.
“She only confirmed what I said regarding her propensity to make unfounded baseless accusations, regarding her propensity to use ad hominems, personal attacks, personal assaults against innocent people without any proof of iota of evidence to back her up. Sad to say that she presented herself as my bad evidence to prove the points that I said in my privilege speech.” – Rappler.com
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