MANILA — Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, has filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to annul the finding of probable cause by the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) to indict her along with her former boss and several others for plunder in connection with the alleged P10-billion priority development assistance fund (PDAF) scam.
The crime of plunder is a non-bailable offense.
In her 81-page petition, Reyes through her lawyer Atty. Anacleto Diaz, Reyes also asked the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the Ombudsman from prosecuting the case.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales issued on March 28, 2014 a joint resolution indicting Reyes, Enrile, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Janet Lim Napoles and several other lawmakers and individuals for the crimes of plunder and violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”.
Napoles is the alleged “brains” behind the P10-billion pork barrel and the P900-million Malampaya Fund scams.
She is currently incarcerated in Fort Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna for the case of serious illegal detention filed against her by Benhur Luy, the prime whistleblower in the pork barrel and the Malampaya Fund scams.
Last week, the Ombudsman denied the respondents’ motions for reconsideration, paving the way for the filing of the charges before the Sandiganbayan.
Reyes asked the SC to annul and set aside the said resolutions of the Ombudsman and to order the latter to remand the case for continuation of preliminary investigation and to furnish her with copies of all statements, affidavits and transcripts of hearings or meetings held with Ruby Tuason, and give her a chance to rebut her statements.
She argued that the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in indicting her for plunder based on the sworn statements of Tuason which she was never furnished with during the preliminary investigation of the case despite her repeated requests.
“Thus, the joint resolution of the Ombudsman, dated March 28, 2014, against petitioner is void and tainted with nullity. For, as held by the Supreme Court, a denial of procedural due process is a grave jurisdictional defect which renders the judgment void,” she said.
She also argued that the Ombudsman engaged in an “unfair and unequal enforcement of the law” when she granted Tuason and the other alleged whistleblowers immunity from prosecution which violated her right to equal protection of the law.
According to Reyes, the Ombudsman disregarded Section 17 Rule 119 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure when it gave Tuason and the other whistleblowers immunity from prosecution despite the fact that based on their own statements they appear to be among the most guilty respondents.
She noted that based on the Ombudsman’s resolutions, Tuason made direct arrangements with Napoles concerning PDAF of legislators and that she fixed their commissions with Napoles as well.
“The Office of the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in relying upon mere suspicions, surmises and conjectures in concluding that petitioner ‘acted in connivance’ and ‘in concert’ with Senator Enrile on the mere basis of her position as chief of staff and alleged authorized representative of the latter,” the petition said.