Santiago advises Enrile on how to win plunder suit-A A +A
Friday, September 27, 2013
(UPDATED) Senator Miriam Santiago, a former judge, gave an unsolicited advice to political nemesis Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on how he can defend himself from charges that he pocketed millions of pesos in pork barrel in the past years.
Enrile’s camp had already passed the buck to his former chief of staff Gigi Reyes as they denied that the senator authorized her to sign or agree to any transaction with the alleged scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
"To avail of his defense, the senator should show evidence that he tried to prevent commission of the other PDAF (priority development assistance fund) releases, or that he tried to abandon or dissociate himself from his COS (chief of staff) during the initial release of funds," said Santiago in a speech before medicine students of the University of the Philippines on Thursday.
She said conspiracy, which is planned in secrecy, may be inferred from circumstantial evidence.
"There is no need to show that the senator received the money himself, because the action of the COS proved that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence. If the senator was absent during the pay-off, this does not constitute proof of innocence," she said.
However, Santiago joined Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in calling for Reyes to turn state witness. She said her testimony, which can be corroborated, will prove that Enrile stole P172.8 million from taxpayers’ money by funnelling his PDAF to Napoles’ phony foundations.
The senator added that Reyes does not appear to be the most guilty in the plunder case pending before the Office of the Ombudsman and she has not been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.
Sought for comment, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Friday it is up to the Ombudsman to assess if Reyes is fit to become state witness. The Ombudsman is tasked to defend the cases before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
Reyes has yet to return to the country since she left for Macau on August 31. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)