MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, the controversial former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, has returned to the Philippines to face charges filed against her over the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, according to a GMA News report.
Reyes arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 via PR104 from San Francisco early Saturday, April 19, the report said.
“I’m facing the charges. I’ve always faced it,” Reyes was quoted as saying.
Reyes left the country in 2013 after being implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, the biggest corruption scandal in recent Philippine history. (READ: Gigi Reyes owns 10 properties worth P50M)
Reyes said she left “to seek some peace and quiet amid the barrage of adverse and downright insulting publicity and commentary against me in the mainstream and social media.” (READ: Gigi Reyes: ‘Nothing worse than betrayal’ by Enrile)
Reyes was accused of signing documents that facilitated the release of Enrile’s Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF to fake non-governmental organizations linked to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. (READ: ‘The Boss’ and Gigi Reyes)
Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr welcomed the return of Reyes, and expects her and other personalities involved in the PDAF issue “to fully disclose what they know.”
“Their willingness to shed light on the ongoing legal proceedings is vital to our people’s quest for justice,” Coloma said in a statement.
Reyes has also been accused of being the paramour of Enrile by no less than his wife Cristina. In an interview in the Bawal ang Pasaway kay Mareng Winnie TV program of GMA News, Cristina said her husband’s affair with Reyes stretched far too long compared to his past ones and that this is what prompted her to seek a divorce.
“I had heard that she was already too long. He has had many girls before Gigi but they don’t last long. With Gigi, it lasted long. Somebody told me that it’s not only this time but more years that you don’t know. That’s what got me,” Cristina Enrile said.
It marked the first confirmation of the romance that had been an open secret in political circles for quite some time, but had been repeatedly denied by Enrile himself.
Reacting to Cristina Enrile’s allegations, Reyes shot back and accused Cristina of telling half-truths which are also half-lies.
Reyes said, “Mrs Enrile has her own reasons for muddling the facts, painting her own picture of her marriage and laying the blame on ‘women’ who she said were the ones who ‘offered themselves’ to her husband. Excuse me, I certainly did not offer myself to him,” she said.
“So kasalanan lahat ng mga babae? Walang kasalanan si senator kasi lalaki lang siya, natural lang. Ganoon ba?” Reyes said. (So it’s the fault of all the women? The senator is not at fault because he is a man and it’s natural. Is that the case?)
Before Reyes’ return to the country, “provisional” state witness Ruby Tuason said in her affidavit that Reyes personally picked up from either her house or a restaurant where they had agreed to meet, Enrile’s share from Napoles. The restaurants were located in the vicinity of Pasay Road in Makati or in The Fort in Taguig City.
Reyes, according to Tuason, would pick up the money alone. In restaurants where they met, there were occasions when Enrile would meet them to join them for a cup of coffee.
“He [Senator Enrile] did not stay long. After coffee, he would leave and sometimes he would come to pick up Atty Gigi Reyes,” Tuason said in her affidavit.
Pressed by senators during a hearing of the blue ribbon committee last February, Tuason could not directly link Enrile to the pork barrel kickbacks. Asked by Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Miriam Defensor Santiago, and Alan Peter Cayetano if Enrile knew about the rebates she gave to Reyes, Tuason could only say, “I can only presume Senator Enrile knows the transactions with Attorney Gigi.”
On April 1, the Office of the Ombudsman announced the filing of charges against Reyes, Senators Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr, and alleged scam operator Janet Lim Napoles. It said it found probable cause to indict them with plunder.
The Senate blue ribbon committee also recommended the filing of the same charges. A report by the committee likewise called for the disbarment of lawyers implicated in the pork barrel scam, mainly Reyes and Enrile. – Rappler.com