Tell all? DOJ more keen on Napoles than Gigi Reyes
MANILA, Philippines – If and when pork barrel scam suspect Jessica "Gigi" Reyes decides to tell all, that would just be a "bonus" for the prosecution. For Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, no testimony would be more valuable than alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles'.
De Lima also clarified that Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senate Minority Juan Ponce Enrile, would not necessarily qualify as state witness – and therefore be spared from charges – if she revealed what she knew.
"Kasi kung sinuman ang talagang magte-tell all ay si Mrs. Napoles, dun mas interesado ako... mas interesado ako duon kaysa kung sinupaman," De Lima told reporters on Monday, April 21.
(If there's anybody who would tell all, it would be Mrs Napoles. I would be more interested in that.... I would be more interested in her more than anyone else.)
"Let's say kasi kung si Atty. Gigi Reyes ang magte-tell all, siyempre sakop lang niyan ay tungkol kay (Enrile) pero si Mrs Napoles, lahat-lahat na siguro ang sakop ng kanyang tell-all narrative na yan ni Mrs. Napoles," she added.
(Should Atty Gigi Reyes tell all, of course it would only cover the parts about Enrile, but Mrs Napoles can cover everything in her tell-all narrative.)
Reyes' return to the country months after the justice department named her respondent in a plunder complain sparked hopes among anti-corruption advocates that she would spill the beans on her former boss.
Reyes, along with Enrile, and 8 others are facing charges for the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam in the first batch of cases filed over the biggest corruption scandal to hit the Philippines in recent years.
Ruby Tuason, an accused who is applying as state witness, said in her affidavit that it was Reyes who received kickbacks on behalf of Enrile.
Reyes left the country in 2013 shortly after being implicated in the pork barrel scam.
De Lima said speculations about Reyes' reasons for returning to the country should stop until Reyes herself gives an indication that she wants to apply as a state witness.
As of Monday noon, De Lima said Reyes had not contacted the Department of Justice (DOJ), and unlike the other accused Ruby Tuason, Reyes did not inform the DOJ about her intention to fly back to the country.
"But this time, since she suddenly appeared, there was no prior advice, so I don't know if there is such an intention [to apply as a state witness] at this point. That's why I don't want to comment first. Let's first know what is her real agenda, what is her real purpose in coming back, because I think she has submitted a counter-affidavit," De Lima said.
Even without the testimony of Reyes, however, the justice secretary said she believes the testimonial evidence of primary whistleblower Benhur Luy as well as documentary evidence are enough to pin down Enrile.
DOJ has yet to confirm whether Reyes has filed a motion for reconsideration for the plunder charges. A warrant of arrest won't be released until the Sandiganbayan upholds the charges filed by the Ombudsman.
With Reyes now back in the country, De Lima warns it would not be easy for her to leave the country this time around, unlike Tuason, who was allowed to fly back to the US after being accepted as "provisional" state witness.
De Lima said DOJ considers Reyes as a principal respondent since she "acted for and in behalf of" Enrile.
"Gigi Reyes at the time of these subject transactions was also a public official being the chief of staff of Senator JPE, unlike Mrs Tuason who was a private citizen," De Lima said. – Rappler.com