MANILA - Cristina Ponce Enrile, the wife of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, has confirmed the long-standing affair between her husband and his former chief of staff, Jessica Lucilla “Gigi” Reyes.
In a tell-all interview on GMA-7’s “Bawal ang Pasaway” program, Cristina said the affair was why she packed her bags and flew to the United States several years ago.
“He had many girls before Gigi but they didn’t last too long. With Gigi, it lasted long,” Cristina said during the program hosted by Winnie Monsod. The first part of the interview was aired Monday.
What got to her, according to Cristina, was that even though she found out about the affair in 1998, someone told her the relationship involved “more years” than she knew about.
They have not separated, she said, adding they merely lived in different houses in the same compound. He had many books and their conjugal home was not enough for her.
“It’s useless for me to be always tense in my house. I was always having that anxiety,” she said.
Reports of the purported love affair between Enrile and Reyes resurfaced in recent years after the current Senate minority leader published his life story and was criticized by his colleagues in the Senate over alleged unequal distribution of Christmas bonuses in 2012.
Enrile denied the affair while Cristina declared in a previous interview with The STAR that she was standing by her man.
Reyes has since resigned as Enrile’s chief of staff.
At the height of the pork barrel controversy, Reyes became one of the respondents in a plunder complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman.
No direct testimony has linked Enrile to the pork barrel scam so far, since witnesses Ruby Tuason, Dennis Cunanan and Benhur Luy mentioned dealing only with Reyes.
Roller coaster ride
It was during the same program that Cristina also recalled how she met Enrile, then a fresh graduate from Harvard’s law school, at a social event in Caloocan City. She said she did not fall in love immediately with Enrile, who eventually became the architect of martial law.
Enrile wooed her after she returned from the United States and they were married in 1957. The veteran lawmaker’s extramarital affairs started six months after she bore their first child, Cristina said.
Describing her 57-year marriage to the 90-year-old lawmaker as a roller coaster ride, Cristina also recalled how she confronted one of Enrile’s lovers – she went to the woman’s house and “kicked the door and then shot the door and left.”
Cristina said she tried to divorce her husband when she found out about the affair with Reyes 15 years ago.
She admitted she was left with no choice when Enrile rejected the divorce papers. She quoted him as saying, “Over my dead body will I give you a divorce.” She returned to Manila.
In the same interview, Cristina defended her husband from claims that he was involved in the pork barrel scam.
She also belied reports that he was behind smuggling operations in his home province of Cagayan.
“I don’t believe that. I don’t think that Johnny is that stupid,” she said, adding that she never meddled in her husband’s political career.
When asked about the smuggling operations in Cagayan, Cristina vouched anew for Enrile’s integrity. “I can vouch for it. From the very beginning, he said – I was present in the meeting – he said, ‘I don’t want to know that anybody tries to smuggle anything, even a toothpick’,” she said.
Despite his womanizing, Cristina believes that Enrile remains an honest man since the time she met him in the 1950s until now that he is 90.
“No, I don’t think so. Sometimes he would accept gifts from people whom he has helped. Expensive gifts, yes, but that is about all. Money, no,” she said.
“He always served his positions in government with intelligence, sobriety, and with a full heart. He did his work,” she added.
Cristina also defended her only son Jack over allegations that he was involved in the killing of actor Alfie Anido and a son of a military official several decades ago.
Her daughter Kristina narrated in another interview how she and her mother were worried about Enrile’s alleged ambush in the 1970s, before the declaration of martial law. Cristina was mum on the issue when it was raised by Monsod during the interview.
“I don’t really know too much about it. It was not very important for me to... I cannot really explain myself. I don’t really know,” she said.