Editorial: The Gigi Reyes mystery

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Monday, April 21, 2014


LOST in the country’s usual focus on last week’s Holy Week rituals was the return of lawyer Jessica “Gigi” Reyes last April 19, or Black Saturday.

Reyes is Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s former chief of staff and is facing charges over the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam together with her former boss, two other senators, businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, and several others.

Reyes left the country on August 31 as more details of the scam were uncovered and before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) formally lodged a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman. Her return thus sparked speculations that she would do a Ruby Tuason.

Tuason is former president Joseph Estrada’s former social secretary who returned to the country late last year. She admitted delivering millions of pesos to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and to Reyes when the latter was Enrile’s chief of staff. Tuason’s fate is up to the Ombudsman and the court, which will decide on her qualification to become state witness.

The speculations that Reyes might turn state witness are actually not surprising because the case of plunder that she is facing is non-bailable. It does not seem logical for her to exchange the freedom that she had abroad for a jail term in the country. One can say that either she is heroic or is a masochist for doing that.

But Malacañang has denied that it had a hand in Reyes’s return while Justice Secretary Leila de Lima considers her a principal in the case, meaning that she wouldn’t push to have her as state witness. Estrada even said he doesn’t believe Reyes would turn against her boss.

If so, then Reyes’s return can be considered a mystery of sorts. But it’s still too early to say if she remains true to her arrival statement “to face the charges” leveled against her or if she will surprise those who firmly believe she is not a snitch.

The choice is hers to make.

Our hope, though, is that in making that choice, she would consider public interest first and foremost. Of course, turning state witness will have the effect of Reyes saving herself from a jail term. But it will also serve public good by helping prosecute those who didn’t have any qualms pocketing billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 22, 2014.

Opinion

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