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Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler
The weekend did not start out well for Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes.
The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Friday, July 4, denied Reyes’ plea to suspend hearings. The same day, the court ordered the arrest of Reyes, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile himself, and 3 other persons. Reyes and Enrile allegedly stole millions of pesos in public funds through fake projects and even dubious NGOs. (READ: Gigi Reyes owns 10 properties worth P50M)
But the bad news did not stop there for Reyes, former chief of staff and alleged paramour of Enrile. (READ: 'The Boss' and Gigi Reyes)
The original plan was for Enrile and Reyes to surrender before the court... separately. But circumstances necessitated a change of plans.
In a press conference, the Philippine National Police said personnel from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) were in “close communication” with the 5 persons ordered arrested: Enrile, Reyes, and 2 others. Janet Lim Napoles, alleged mastermind of the scam, needed no coordination since she was already detained in a PNP Special Action Force camp in Laguna.
But here’s why close coordination was needed: the PNP received the warrant a little before 4:30 in the afternoon, making the “Bong Revilla” route – heading to Sandiganbayan before being turned over to the police – difficult to pull off. The Sandiganbayan closes shop at 4:30 pm.
Police made it clear to the camp involved: go to the Sandiganbayan and you’ll have to deal with throngs of media waiting inside and outside. Go to the Sandiganbayan and you'll have to wait inside cramped offices. Go to the Sandiganbayan and there's uncertainty the court could commit Reyes to the PNP, given time constraints.
Enrile, older and much wiser, followed the police’s advice. He left his home in Dasmariñas village, and proceeded to the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame – but not before a quick stop at the EDSA Monument, where members of the CIDG led by its chief Police Director Benjamin Magalong met Enrile’s convoy.
Instead of cramped court offices, Enrile was booked and processed inside the spacious PNP Multi-purpose Center. There was no way the media could come too close to him – Crame police cordoned off the immediate entrance of the center.
At the end of the day, Enrile and his camp got what he wanted – temporary hospital arrest inside an air-conditioned room at the PNP General Hospital.
But where was Gigi Reyes? She went straight to the Sandiganbayan, ignoring the advice of the police and instead heeding her lawyers’ counsel. There, Reyes underwent the court’s own “booking procedure.” But unlike Enrile, who was under police custody, Reyes was now at the mercy of the court, which was not as merciful as the police. The third blow of the day came: instead of the PNP Custodial Center, Reyes was ordered detained at a regular jail in Quezon City.
Reyes broke down upon hearing the news. Her blood pressure shot up. A relative, who had accompanied her to the court, was furious at the lawyer. Police officials who earlier communicated with Reyes’ camp could only shake their heads.
Had Reyes followed the police’s instructions, she would have gone through booking procedures at the CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame, and put under temporary detention at the custodial center, considered a “3-star hotel” for detainees by human rights lawyer Chel Diokno. (IN PHOTOS: Senators' detention center in Camp Crame)
All hope wasn’t lost for Reyes Friday night. The Sandiganbayan asked the jail warden to return with a report on the viability of the jail for Reyes within 3 days. She remains temporarily detained at the Sandiganbayan. Still, the possibility of detention in a regular jail looms over Reyes’ head.