Press Release
September 26, 2013


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a mult-awarded former RTC judge, said that Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile's former chief of staff, Atty. Gigi Reyes, should turn state witness and tell all against her former boss.

Enrile's lawyer reportedly said that Enrile did not authorize Reyes to sign any paper in connection with any transaction concerning the release of PDAF to the phony NGOs run by Janet Napoles.

Santiago made the statement at her keynote speech at the annual postgraduate course of the UP Department of Emergency Medicine held on September 26, 2013, at the Diamond Hotel, Manila.

Santiago enumerated the following reasons why she thinks Atty. Reyes is eligible as a state witness:

1. There is absolute necessity for her testimony with respect to the senator.

2. Without her testimony, no other direct evidence will be available for the prosecution to prove plunder against that particular senator.

3. Her testimony could be substantially corroborated in its material points.

4. She does not appear to be the most guilty.

5. There is no evidence that at any time, she has been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.

Conspiracy between senator and COS

According to Santiago, whether or not the senator succeeds in transferring criminal liability to his COS, it appears that between the two of them there was a conspiracy.

Under the Penal Code, "a conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony, and decide to commit it." The basic effect of conspiracy in criminal law is that the act of one is the act of all.

"Assuming for the sake of argument that giving pork barrel funds to the phony Napoles NGOs was the criminal design of his COS, under our laws, he merged his will into the common felonious intent. The senator can no longer repudiate the conspiracy, after it had already materialized," Santiago said.

"To free himself from criminal liability, the law requires an overt act on the part of the conspirator. To avail of his defense, the senator should show evidence that he tried to prevent commission of the other PDAF releases, or that he tried to abandon or dissociate himself from his COS during the initial release of funds," she said.

Santiago explained that the presence of a conspiracy may be inferred from circumstantial evidence.

"By its nature, conspiracy is planned in utmost secrecy; this is why it can rarely be proven by direct evidence. There is no need to show that the senator received the money himself, because the action of the COS proved that there is sufficient circumstantial evidence. If the senator was absent during the pay-off, this does not constitute proof of innocence," she said.

Santiago said the theory of conspiracy will serve to place the burden of criminal liability squarely on Enrile, even if only his COS acted directly in arranging for, and the collection of, the kickbacks. If the senator was a co-principal by reason of conspiracy, it is sufficient that the senator performed an overt act in pursuance or furtherance of conspiracy to plunder. Such an overt act may consist of one of two things: (1) either the senator actively participated in the actual commission of plunder, or (2) the senator provided moral assistance and asserted moral ascendancy over his COS by moving her to execute or implement the conspiracy.

"The mere fact that the crime of plunder took place over a period consisting of many years, by itself shows what the law calls 'implied conspiracy,' Santiago said. "Hence, it is not necessary that both the senator and the COS commit each and every act constitutive of plunder." Plunder case

Santiago also enumerated the five-step process to obtain a conviction for plunder:

  • Fact-finding by the NBI, undertaken by getting the affidavits and other supporting documents from the whistleblowers.

  • Filing by the NBI of a complaint for plunder with the Ombudsman.

  • Preliminary investigation by the Ombudsman, during which affidavits and counteraffidavits are presented, without examining the witnesses.

  • Resolution by the Ombudsman to file the case in the anti-graft court known as the Sandiganbayan.

  • Trial by the Sandiganbayan.

Under the Anti-Plunder Act, as soon as the Ombudsman files her complaint for plunder with the Sandiganbayan, two events will concur:

1. The Sandiganbayan will automatically suspend from office the public officials who are accused; and

2. The Sandiganbayan will hold a preliminary bail hearing, to determine if evidence of guilt is strong. If so, then bail will be denied and the accused, including the senators, will be detained while the trial is held.

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