‘Love, loyalty’ won’t turn Gigi vs JPE – Senators
MANILA, Philippines – “It’s like the husband and wife saying we split up but we still sleep in the same bed.”
This is how Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano expressed his skepticism over reports that Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was unaware of the return of his former chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes.
Reyes’ brother, Patrick Gonzales, told the Inquirer that Enrile did not know about his sister’s return but Cayetano said it was “against logic after 20 years of doing everything together.”
“It’s hard to believe. They’re so interconnected and they have been interconnected that it’s really hard to say who’s telling the truth,” Cayetano told Rappler in a phone interview.
While Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago called on Reyes to tell all in a reopened Senate probe on the pork barrel scam, Enrile’s other critics do not think Reyes will implicate Enrile in the controversy.
“I hope so but I really doubt it,” Senator Antonio Trillanes IV told Rappler.
Asked if loyalty is preventing Reyes from turning her back on her ex-boss, Trillanes quipped, “Love and loyalty.”
Since the pork barrel scam broke out, Enrile’s critics have been trying to pin him down by citing his alleged affair with Reyes, his staff of 25 years, as a factor in the supposed conspiracy. Enrile’s wife, Cristina, had confirmed the affair but Enrile denied this as mere “suspicions of a wife.”
Whistleblowers identified Reyes as Enrile’s alleged conduit in receiving millions of pesos in kickbacks in exchange for his endorsement of bogus non-governmental organizations.
In a surprise move, Reyes returned to the Philippines on Saturday following an 8-month trip abroad after the pork barrel scam broke out. The motives for her return and her plans remain a mystery, with Reyes yet to issue a media statement.
Gigi ‘defiance’ betrays strategy
Unlike Santiago, Cayetano does not believe that Reyes returned to turn state witness. He said Reyes’ initial statement that she is ready to “face the charges” was indicative of her “defiant” stance.
“I seriously doubt she will speak up. She knows many things. She has a lot of powerful friends. It seems Senators Jinggoy and Enrile are still relying on a political solution: for their allies to win in 2016. The strategy is to wait it out,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the recent surveys showing high ratings for Enrile and Estrada’s ally, Vice President Jejomar Binay, boosted the confidence of Reyes and the opposition senators. A presidential aspirant, Cayetano has been attacking Binay by saying his partymates might be acquitted if he wins as president in 2016.
“She’s more confident and more defiant upon her return rather than when she was hiding. One possibility is she realized she knows a lot and she can hold it against a lot of people. Number two is the big survey companies have already started their survey and their ally has a high rating,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano added that Reyes can “blackmail” officials to protect her because she was the “right hand” of Enrile in dealing with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and President Benigno Aquino III. Enrile was Senate President during the latter years of the Arroyo administration and the first half of the Aquino government.
“There are a lot of people she can blackmail. There are a lot of people fearing she will speak out, not just about [alleged pork barrel scam mastermind] Janet Napoles but the whole system of where they get pork. She knows the wheeling and dealing.”
Asked what specific deals Reyes was supposedly privy to, Cayetano said there were “many.”
“They were deep into everything, how things are done. First, how legislation is [passed] through pork, how [principal whistleblower Benhur] Luy said that even in 2011 and 2012, they were still following things up with the Aquino administration. Who was the Senate President then? And that was the Aquino administration. They’ve dealt with powerful people,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said he was wary of the reason behind Reyes’ return.
“That’s the big question and in coming back, it betrays her attitude from despair to defiance….It’s suddenly a change of strategy and perspective and people like her don’t act out of emotion. There is a clear strategy they think off.”
No to Reyes as state witness
Cayetano again disagreed with Santiago that Reyes should be accepted as a state witness.
The majority leader said it is high time the justice department explains its system after it admitted socialite Ruby Tuason and Technology Resource Center head Dennis Cunanan as possible state witnesses.
“There’s a difference between whistleblowers like Benhur and Jun Lozada, and people caught red-handed who are helpless and face jail and suddenly become state witness...I just want to make sure there’s a proper balance and we do not cheapen the process,” he said.
“Whether Attorney Gigi is qualified and it’s wise to make her a state witness are two different things. I’d like to find out what she knows. Will she admit where the properties are?” – Rappler.com