Santiago asks DOJ to probe Enrile for P5B port project

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014


MANILA (Updated) -- Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to probe the alleged ties of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile to the contractor of a P5.101 billion breakwater project in Cagayan.

In a letter dated February 4, Santiago asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to direct the DOJ investigating panel to focus its probe on the said angle.

Last year, Santiago alleged that Enrile is linked to the supposed smuggling activities at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), the free port in Enrile's home province. She also called the senior senator a plunderer, womanizer, and human rights violator, among others.

De Lima then said that the DOJ will look into the allegations of Santiago, specifically issues concerning Ceza.

Santiago, in her letter, a copy of which was furnished to the Senate media, said that Enrile used his chief-of-staff, lawyer Jessica Lucilla "Gigi" Reyes, and her family "to insert the humongous amount" of P5.101 billion for the Cagayan Freeport in the last five years.

"It appears that Enrile used their names to surreptitiously morph the Freeport into the main vehicle for smuggling and other illicit operations," she said.

Santiago said that a certain Alice Eduardo is the president and chief executive officer of Sta. Elena Construction, the builder of a breakwater in Port Irene. Eduardo is also the president of Sta. Fe Builders, which shares an office with Sta. Elena Construction in Manila.

"Here, certain details betray Enrile's hand. The Sta. Fe Builders board of directors includes Gigi's family. Her brother, Neal Jose O. Gonzales, is board chair; and her mother, Maria O. Cooper, is a board member and one of the directors. That is Enrile’s thumbprint right there," the senator said.

"Thus, it appears that Enrile has used the names of his chief of staff and her family to mask his immense personal financial interests, not only in Sta. Fe Builders, but also in Sta. Elena Construction. The latter apparently served as conduit for the P5.101 billion that the government spent for the breakwater of Port Irene, basically Enrile’s brainchild when he served as representative," she said.

Enrile served as an assemblyman of Cagayan from 1984 to 1986 and as first district representative of the province from 1992 to 1995.

Santiago added that Eduardo's construction firm also built foundation works for huge projects such as the Pagcor Entertainment City, North Luzon Expressway, SM projects, including the Mall of Asia, four power plants, several traffic interchanges, and several bridge and flood control projects.

"If Enrile is inexplicably linked to Eduardo, the logical question follows: Is Eduardo a front woman for Enrile's business interests? If not, why did Enrile entrust to her a project in his home base, the Cagayan Freeport, with a budget costing the government P5.101 billion?" Santiago asked.

Enrile admitted knowing Eduardo, saying he met her "several times, maybe four or five times" but denied benefiting from the multi-billion project.

"They are free to check. I have not received any single centavo from her," he told reporters.

As far as Ceza is concerned, Enrile said, "I have no interest and she (Santiago) can say whatever she wants till Kingdom come."

The senator said that he only wanted to develop the place in Cagayan "where I came from and to give jobs to my fellow Cagayanos."

"This chamber is open to scrutinize the operations there. There is nothing being hidden there and she can review all the transactions she wants to," Enrile said. (With Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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