Gigi Reyes seeks SC TRO vs plunder case

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, has asked the Supreme Court to stop her plunder case in connection with the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.

Reyes filed the 82-page petition before the Court on Monday, June 9, copies of which were released to the media a day later.

“Wherefore, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed that: Immediately upon receipt hereof, a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction be issued restraining and enjoining the respondent Ombudsman from prosecuting the case,” Reyes said in her petition.

In a press briefing Tuesday, June 10, SC Spokesman Theodore Te said the Court has ordered the Ombudsman to comment on Reyes' plea. The SC gave the Ombudsman 10 days to respond.

The SC, however, did not commit to act on her petition.

She also said that she stands to “suffer grave and irreparable injury” should the Ombudsman not be ordered to cease and desist from prosecuting the case, since plunder is a non-bailable offense and she would thus be arrested and detained, depriving her of her constitutional right to liberty.

She said that criminal proceedings against her would “compel her to undergo the pain and rigors, as well as the trouble, expense and anxiety of a public trial, even when the issue of probable cause to bind her over to trial is under serious question and has been raised” before the Court.

Reyes claimed that her criminal prosecution “has exposed and will continue to expose" her "to public contempt and disrepute" even when presumed innocent under the Constitution.

Preliminary investigation

She appealed that the Court annul and set aside the resolutions earlier issued by the Ombudsman in relation to her case, and to order the Ombudsman to “remand the case of continuation of preliminary investigation.”

Reyes urged the High Court to require the Ombudsman furnish her with “copies of all statements, affidavits and transcripts of hearings or meetings” held with whistleblower Ruby Tuason who had incriminated her and several others.

Reyes also asked that she be given enough time to “rebut and disprove” the statements of Tuason, should her petition be granted,

The lawyer said she never received a copy of Tuason's sworn statement despite her formal request to the Ombudsman to be furnished a copy so she could file a supplemental counter-affidavit.

Tuason, who returned P40 million to the government which she derived from her dealings with pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles, was granted immunity from criminal prosecution by the Ombudsman on May 2. 

In her 15-page affidavit, Tuason implicated Reyes, and named Enrile and Senator Jinggoy Estrada as direct recipients of kickbacks for bogus projects under their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), coursed through fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of Napoles.

Tuason had said that she knew Reyes before the whistleblower became acquainted with Napoles, and alleged that the lawyer personally received the share of Enrile in the PDAF scam.

Grave abuse of discretion

Reyes is seeking the nullification of the Ombudsman’s Joint Resolution dated March 28, 2014, and Joint Order dated June 4, 2014 – finding probable cause for plunder charges and violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and denying her Motion for Reconsideration of the Joint Resolution, respectively.

In seeking the nullification of the issuances, Reyes alleged that these were made “with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of the jurisdiction.”

Reyes accused the Ombudsman of having “acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction in that she disregarded petitioner’s constitutional and statutory rights as well as vital and essential facts on record which show lack of probable cause to bind petitioner over to trial.”

Reyes served as Enrile’s chief of staff at the Senate from July 1995 to June 2001, and when he was re-elected 2004 and 2010, until her resignation in January 2013. – Rappler.com