This story was first published on October 15, 2013. We are republishing it due to renewed public interest after the Supreme Court ordered on January 19, 2023, the release Gigi Reyes from detention after nine years.
MANILA, Philippines – With a salary of over a million pesos a year, how was Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the former chief of staff of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, able to acquire new properties worth over P16 million between 2008 and 2010?
According to her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) filed in December 2011, she purchased lots in Matuod, Lian, in Batangas in 2008 (worth P3.4 million) and 2009 (worth P5.32 million). The following year, in 2010, she built a house also in Batangas worth P1.5 million and then bought a residential condominium unit and parking space at Fairways Towers in Taguig worth P6.45 million.
In 2011, she had a net worth of P29.36 million, more than double her net worth in 2004, which is Reyes’ earliest SALN on record with the Civil Service Commission. In 2004, when she was already Enrile’s chief of staff, Reyes had a net worth of P12.825 million and only two properties – a house and lot in La Vista bought for P22.5 million in 2002, and a residential lot in South Ridge Subdivision in Tagaytay worth P1.4 million.
By 2012, Reyes’ real estate property acquisitions, according to her latest SALN, totalled about P50.86 million. These covered 10 residential properties, including two houses in Matuod, Lian, Batangas, and the house and lot in La Vista. Of the 10 listed items under “real properties,” 4 are lots all located in Matuod, Lian, Batangas. The 10 listed real property assets are identical to her listing in 2011.
Based on her 2012 SALN, two residential houses are also in Matuod. Besides the P1.5-million house constructed in 2010, she had a second one built in the same year. It was more expensive at P6 million.
It was in her 2011 SALN that Reyes first declared her property in Sta Ana, Cagayan, that she acquired way back 1999. The lot which was bought for P285,000 was also listed in her 2012 SALN, but not in earlier SALN submissions, including the one filed for 2004.
Reyes, along with Enrile who hails from Cagayan, has been charged with plunder by the justice department before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with misused pork barrel funds. A Commission of Audit report covering the years 2007-2009 found that money from the Priority Development Assistance Program of lawmakers was funnelled by them and individuals to fake non-governmental organizations controlled by Janet Lim Napoles – in exchange for hefty commissions.
A closer scrutiny of her 2007 SALN – which mirrors her financial standing before the additional lot purchase in 2008 – shows that she had total liabilities of P20.2 million, 17 million of which was in bank and personal loans. Her net worth stood at about P17 million.
In 2008, her net worth increased to over P20 million, while her personal and bank loans increased to P18 million. In 2009, her net worth rose steadily to P22.9 million, while her loans remained unchanged. In 2010, her net worth rose further to P27.2 million, as she wiped out her P8 million bank loan in 2009, but doubled her personal loans from P10 million in 2009 to P20 million in 2010. Her mortgage payable of P5 million in 2009 was also cleared in 2010.
By 2011, Reyes’ personal loans increased further to P34 million, with no bank loans or mortgage payables. Her P29.36 million net worth in 2011 dropped to P27.81 million in 2012. By this time, her personal loans had risen further to P36 million.
In 2012, the only vehicles she listed under her personal properties were a Toyota Fortuner acquired in 2007 for P1.3 million under the Cruz & Reyes Law Offices (her law office), a pre-owned Toyota Grandia acquired in 2008 for P700,000, and a pre-owned Toyota Altis bought in 2009 for P600,000. Senate sources, who had seen the vehicle in the Senate parking lot in the past, said she also used a Toyota Sequioa SUV, similar to what Enrile himself also used. This was not listed in her SALNs, however.
Besides the vehicles and her P3-million time deposit, the next big item in her personal properties list for 2012 was jewelry worth P3 million. Among her weaknesses, said those who know her, are jewelry and designer bags.
When she was still working in the Senate, Reyes reportedly signed documents that facilitated the release of Enrile’s PDAF to fake NGOs linked to Napoles. She is also mentioned in the affidavit of Merlina Suñas, among the witnesses in the PDAF scam, as being among the recipients of commissions given by Napoles to legislators and their staff.
“Ang porsiyento naman ni Atty Gigi Reyes ay pinapadala ni Madame Jenny kay Fernando Ramirez o kay John Raymund de Asis sa bahay ni Atty Reyes mismo,” Suñas said. (The commission of Atty Gigi Reyes is given by Madame Jenny [Napoles] to Fernando Ramirez or John Raymund de Asis to be delivered to the house of Atty Reyes herself.)
Generally well liked in the Senate because of her and her principal’s generosity to Senate employees, Reyes was also acknowledged to be influential. Long-time employees at the Senate said that when Enrile was Senate president and she was chief of staff, permanent positions needed her approval. “Kung hindi ka malakas, hindi mo makukuha ang position,” one former employee said. (If you were not favored by her, you wouldn’t get the position.)
After flying to Macau on August 31, Reyes has not been publicly visible since. She could not be reached for comment.
The last she was heard from was when she reacted to Enrile’s lawyer Enrique dela Cruz who said the former Senate president “never authorized anyone to enter into an illegal transaction. If they did, it’s outside their authority and they should be held responsible.”
Reacting to this, Reyes wrote about “travesty and betrayal” in a September 21 post on her Facebook page. She said in that post, “the worst blow has just been dealt upon me by no less than the camp of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, the man I served with full dedication, honesty and loyalty for 25 years.”
Enrile, known to have a special fondness for his former chief of staff, publicly declared that he was not out to betray his people, in apparent reference to Gigi Reyes. – Rappler.com
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