Gigi Reyes stays in detention

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    JESSICA Lucial “Gigi” Reyes, former staff and co-accused of former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile in a P172.83 million plunder charge, has failed in her bid to be released from detention on humanitarian grounds.

    In a 3-2 vote, a special division of five Sandiganbayan justices ruled to deny Reyes’ motion for provisional release, saying her plea citing risks of coronavirus infection has “absolutely no basis” in any applicable laws and jurisprudence.

    The anti-graft court’s Third Division said Reyes failed to present competent medical evidence to show that her detention in Camp Bagong Diwa is putting her health at risk.

    “Except for her allegation that she is now 57 years old, accused Reyes has not even attempted to explain how her continued confinement given her age, will permanently impair her health or put her life in danger,” the court declared.

    Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang penned the 35-page majority ruling concurred in by Associate Justices Ronald B. Moreno and Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta.

    Associate Justices Bernelito R. Fernandez and Geraldine Faith A. Econg dissented.

    Reyes was accused of helping Enrile amass P172.83 million in kickbacks and commissions by funneling his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel allocations into bogus foundations and non-government organizations created by co-accused Janet Lim Napoles.

    Also charged was Napoles’ employee John Raymund de Asis.

    Enrile was granted bail in 2015 on humanitarian considerations based on his advanced age and delicate health.

    On the other hand, Reyes’ motion for bail was denied by the Sandiganbayan on June 28, 2018 as it noted that the prosecution succeeded in presenting “strong evidence of guilt against accused Reyes that she committed the crime of plunder.”

    In her motion, Reyes claimed Camp Bagong Diwa is a congested detention facility and the number of COVID-19 cases in communities surrounding it continues to rise.

    She also invoked the ruling of the Supreme Court in Enrile vs. Sandiganbayan which dealt with health reasons, saying that at 57 she should be considered a high-risk person because of her health conditions, including anxiety disorder and hypertension.

    Reyes said she used to get periodic injections and checkup for deteriorating facial nerves due to hemi-facial spasm but since the community quarantine was imposed she has not been getting the same medical intervention.

    She added that she has been in jail for six years after her voluntary surrender but cannot be considered a flight risk since she has always participated in court proceedings, is prepared to surrender her passport, and post bail to be set by the court.

    The Sandiganbayan noted that Reyes still has a pending challenge to the denial of her bail before the Supreme Court hence she violated procedures by filing a motion for provisional release with it.