Court enters 'not guilty' plea for Gigi Reyes
MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan entered a "not guilty" plea for Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes on Friday, July 18 after she refused to enter a plea for her plunder case.
"With the advice of counsel, your honor, I'm not entering any plea," Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, told the court.
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who also belongs to the 3rd division, said in response, "Since the accused refused to enter any plea, let a plea of not guilty be entered into the records of this case for her."
Dressed in a crisp long-sleeved blouse, Reyes was handcuffed when she was brought to the Sandiganbayan for her arraignment over plunder charges in connection with the multimillion pork barrel scam. She is accused of conspiring to plunder P172 million in funds from Enrile's Priority Development Assistance Fund.
Reyes left the Taguig city jail in Camp Bagong Diwa at around 6:25 am, on board a convoy composed of 3 vehicles and 3 motorcycle escorts, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Uniform (BJMP) National Capital Region spokesman Inspector Aries Villaester said. The convoy arrived at the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City about an hour later.
Right after her arraignment, Reyes complained of dizziness. After her pronouncement before the court, she immediately asked the justices that she be seated. Third division Justice Samuel Martires allowed Reyes to stay at the lawyers' table as she herself was a lawyer.
Her blood pressure was at 120/80.
The Sandiganbayan nurse Rodalie Pamorca was able to assist Reyes after the court adjourned. Pamorca said that although the accused showed lack of strength, she refused to use a wheelchair on the way out of the courtroom.
On the way out, Reyes was assisted by personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
According to her attending physician, Reyes has mixed anxiety disorder and needs psychiatric treatment. Reyes was rushed to the Taguig Pateros District Hospital because of a panic attack, barely two hours after she was moved to Camp Bagong Diwa.
After a one-day stay in the hospital, she was rushed to the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City because of chest pains. She has since been moved back to Camp Bagong Diwa.
Enrile's preliminary conference
Meanwhile, in a hearing prior to Reyes' arraignment for her plunder case, Enrile's motion to reset hearing on his suspension as senator was granted. The prosecutors' motion to have him suspended will be heard on July 22 instead of its original schedule of Friday morning, July 18.
In their motion, the prosecutors said the validity of the charge sheet against Enrile as reinforced by his arrest warrant necessitates his suspension as a public officer.
But in the motion to reset the hearing, Enrile's camp argued that more time is needed to counter the suspension, given the "complexity of the issues." A petition questioning the validity of Enrile's charge sheet will be filed before the Supreme Court, their motion read.
Enrile's motion to postpone his preliminary conference was, however, denied for lack of merit. His camp wanted a postponement as they have yet to acquire photocopies of documents relevant to Enrile's case. But Martires said it is exactly in the preliminary conference where these documents will be admitted.
"For purposes of the preliminary conference, you don't need at this point in time a photocopy of all the documents," he added.
The preliminary conference, which involves the pre-marking and admission of evidence on Enrile's case, will thus proceed as scheduled on Friday afternoon, July 18, at 1:30 pm. – Rappler.com