Miriam: Gigi Reyes should be state witness

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago files a bill that seeks to ban the padrino system or political recommendations in government agencies.

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Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile's former chief of staff Gigi Reyes should turn state witness and tell all against her former boss, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said.

In a speech at the Diamond Hotel on Thursday, Santiago said without Reyes' testimony, no other direct evidence will be available for the prosecution to prove plunder against Enrile. 

The Senator further explained Reyes could qualify as a state witness because her testimony could be substantially corroborated and she doesn't appear to be the most guilty in the scam.

Santiago, a former Regional Trial Court judge, said whether or not Enrile succeeds in transferring criminal liability to Reyes, a conspiracy still appears between the two of them and could still be proven through circumstantial evidence.

"The mere fact that the crime of plunder took place over a period consisting of many years, by itself shows what the law calls 'implied conspiracy,' Santiago said.

Noting that the basic effect of conspiracy in criminal law is that the act of one is the act of all, the Senator explained plunder against Enrile could still be proven even if he was not present during the pay-off.

"There is no need to show that the Senator received the money himself, because the action of the [chief of staff] proved that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence. If the Senator was absent during the pay-off, this does not constitute proof of innocence," she added.

The only way for Enrile to free himself of criminal liability, Santiago added, is to "show evidence that he tried to prevent commission of the other PDAF releases, or that he tried to abandon or dissociate himself from his [chief of staff] during the initial release of funds."

Early this year, Santiago and Enrile clashed in a verbal war in media over the unequal distribution of Christmas cash gifts by then Senate President Enrile to 22 senators excluding Santiago.

Reyes and Enrile are among the 38 respondents in the first batch of plunder and malversation cases the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed before the Ombudman in connection with the alleged multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.

Earlier, Enrile's lawyer, Atty. Enrique dela Cruz said the Senator did not authorize Reyes to sign papers concerning the release of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) allegedly run by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. According to the scam whistleblowers, lawmakers and personalities involved in the scam allegedly received multi-million peso kickbacks from Napoles.

Aside from Santiago, Sen. Antonio Trillianes, who last year tangled with Enrile over the alleged negotiations being conducted by Trillianes with Chinese officials to resolve territorial disputes over the West Philippines Sea, earlier suggested for the DOJ to consider getting Reyes as a state witness.

"Gigi Reyes dealt with Napoles directly so she has personal knowledge of the transactions. At the same time, she's the least guilty compared to the principals," Trillianes said.

Reyes, who fled the country even before the plunder raps were filed against her, last week broke her silence and said she felt betrayed by her former boss.

Enrile meanwhile said it is not his character to "betray any of my people or staff."

READ: Enrile 'betrayal' no surprise: analyst

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