Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is sinking fast politically these days and is grabbing at everything in a desperate effort to save his political life. Implicated in the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam, he is putting the blame on Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, her erstwhile chief of staff, who was his trusted aide for 25 long years.
According to Manila news reports, Enrile claimed he had not authorized Gigi to sign papers on the release of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF), also known as “pork barrel,” to fictitious non-government organizations (NGOs) set up by the alleged mastermind, Janet Lim Napoles. The amount of the PDAF released is P172.8 million.
Enrile is one of three senators facing plunder charges filed recently with the Ombudsman by the Department of Justice in connection with the scam. (The two other senators are Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla.)
Understandably, Gigi is bitter, seething at claims that Enrile has dumped her in the cold. If this is true, she said, it could be betrayal in the highest order.
In her Facebook page, the former chief of staff stated she had served Enrile “with full dedication, honesty and loyalty for 25 years.”
She also said, “A certain Atty. Enrique dela Cruz has been doing the media rounds saying that Senator Enrile did not give his blessings to any of the acts I performed on his behalf. He directly accused me of doing things without the Senator’s knowledge and going beyond the authority conferred upon me. Not content, Atty. dela Cruz goes on to say that the office of the Senator was investigating me for what he calls ‘katiwalian,’ and that I, not the senator, will be liable.
“True, I have lost contact with Senator Enrile, and this very tragic development is beyond my comprehension. Does this Atty. Dela Cruz really know whereof he speaks?
“The last time I spoke to the Senator from abroad, he maintained that he will stand by the authority he issued to me and that all that I did was faithful and pursuant to his instructions. He even told me to be strong; that we will fight together to prove the accusations against us are false and fabricated.
“I never once thought that this day would come. I never stepped on anyone’s toes nor abused my position in all the years I served in the Senate. But I have earned the bitter ire and enmity of some people by and large because and in defense of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.”
“If indeed these statements are sanctioned by or coming from my former boss, then noting can be worse than this kind of travesty and betrayal.”
Gigi left Manila on Aug. 31, 2013. Immigration records listed her destination as Macau.
In her Facebook message, Gigi said, “Before I left, I had already engaged the services of my legal counsel to prepare for my defense because as things stood, it was a foregone conclusion that I would be included in the complaint long bruited about by Atty. Levito Baligod.”
She added, “I have every intention to defend myself, my name and my honor and to acquit myself of all the baseless charges and blatant lies being spread about me and those contained in perjured affidavits of so-called whistle-blowers.
“I grieve at how all the dirt, harsh judgment, blame and vicious publicity heaped upon me has besmirched my family and the good honor and memory of my late father, Pat H. Gonzales, former editor-in-chief of the Manila Bulletin, and that of my late father-in-law, Ambassador Vicente G. Reyes. There may be no saints among us, and I do not profess to be one. Yet, as it has been in all of human history, it is easy for sinners to cast stones.”
Who is telling the truth? Who is more credible – Gigi or the senator?
I happened to know Gigi because her late father, Pat Gonzales, had been my boss at the Manila Bulletin. I met her a few times while she was already an aide of Enrile. My impression of her was that she seemed to have inherited much of the virtues of her father, who was noted for his high ethical journalism standards and courage to expose government venalities.
On the other hand, I know of some factual stories about Enrile, none of which can inspire trust and confidence in the senator from Cagayan.
And I cannot simply believe the claim that he did not authorize Gigi to sign on his behalf papers on the release of his PDAF. Is he saying that he didn’t know what was happening in his office? A wily, wise man like him did not notice what was happening under his nose?
It appears to me that he is just feigning innocence. There is merit in the suggestion that Gigi should be made a state witness in the plunder charges filed against her and her former boss. If this happens, she could certainly spill the beans.