Gigi Reyes, the former chief of staff of current Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, on Thursday appeared before the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division to attend her trial on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
It was Reyes’ first appearance before the anti-graft court since the Supreme Court ordered her release last week, under the condition that she would attend all her Sandiganbayan hearings.
Reyes and Enrile, the former Senate President, are still undergoing trial for plunder charges after allegedly pocketing P172 million worth of kickbacks in the so-called “pork barrel scam.”
The next hearing for both plunder and graft cases is set on Feb. 7 and every Tuesday and Thursday thereafter at 2 p.m.
Reyes declined interview requests from the media after her hearing.
The Supreme Court earlier ruled to grant Reyes’ release from jail based on a petition for habeas corpus that her camp filed in 2021, saying Reyes’ confinement had “become oppressive thus infringing upon her right to liberty.”
Reyes’ former boss Enrile had already been released on humanitarian grounds in 2015 despite facing non-bailable charges. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
The scam, supposedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, involved the diversion of lawmakers’ PDAF or pork barrel funds to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).
However, Reyes’ lawyer submitted a waiver of appearance, noting that the Supreme Court condition came with the phrase “when she is lawfully ordered to do so.”
But Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez said in open court that they would abide by the decision, which orders Reyes to be present in all hearings.
“It is very clear and categorical, that she should appear personally in the hearings for her criminal cases,” Fernandez said.
During the trial for plunder, five witnesses were presented by the prosecution: Dante Liongson, Renato Malonzo, Nestor Baltazar, Generoso San Gabriel, and Gina Diaz, all farmers from Bulacan.
The prosecution and defense stipulated on the testimony of the farmers that they had not received any agricultural packages from their local government or any office.
The same set of witnesses was also presented for the first day of trial proper for the graft cases.