Miriam: Senate won't waste time even if Reyes won't tell all

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 21 2014 12:17 PM | Updated as of Apr 22 2014 05:16 AM

Her testimony would be the 'seal of guilt' on the accused

MANILA (UPDATE) - Senator Miriam Santiago believes that the Senate would not be wasting its time if it calls for a hearing and Attorney Gigi Reyes would decide not to give details or merely invoke her right against self-incrimination.

Santiago said the public would still be able to form its conclusion based on what Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s former chief of staff intends to say.

“As a former RTC [Regional Trial Court] judge, I will already begin to suspect that since she is non-cooperative or even hostile to questions that tend to elicit the truth, then she does not like the truth. She is belligerent, or unfriendly, or hostile to the truth. And the main function of a trial court, just like the function of a legislative hearing in aid of legislation, is to find out what is the truth,” Santiago told reporters.

“For example, if this person, or if this witness or this resource person does not want to tell the truth, then it is highly likely that the truth is unfavorable to her.”

In a letter sent to committee chair Senator Teofisto 'TG' Guingona, Santiago asked that the Senate blue ribbon committee invite Reyes to a hearing, or subpoena her if necessary.

She said that Reyes’ testimony would “clarify certain aspects of the partial” committee report that accused Reyes of involvement in the pork barrel scam, along with Senators Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, among others.

Santiago is convinced Reyes will testify against her former boss in the pork barrel case.

Santiago said that Reyes would not have returned to the country only to face the prospect of spending time in jail if ever the Sandiganbayan issues a warrant for her arrest along with her co-accused in the plunder case.

“Itong tao, nang nag-umpisa ang iskandalo, umalis na kaagad, kamukha din ng iba. Tapos nagtiis ‘yan abroad nang walong buwan. Hindi naman nag-enjoy ng holiday ‘yan because she is wracked, she’s tormented by her thoughts of her reputation and what is being charged against her and she is not there to answer it personally. I doubt very much that she is spending an Acapulco-style holiday abroad. I think that she had a tormented period of agony there,” Santiago said.

“My question here is one of logic. Why would a person, after eight months in hiding, come forward so that she could walk straight to a detention jail?”

Santiago said she would support Reyes’ application to become state witness if she decides so, believing that she is able to meet the qualifications to become state witness.

She said that Reyes’ testimony could be the “seal” that would bolster the case and prove the guilt of those charged.

“…If you do not have that kind of direct evidence, it is possible that the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt cannot be met. So in effect, the testimony of Gigi Reyes, if she turns state witness, could be the seal of guilt on all the accused rather than—if she is absent… giving the accused the opportunity to go scot-free because the court might, say, ‘Well there is proof. It is not proof beyond reasonable doubt,” Santiago said.

“That is why we want her to testify before the blue ribbon committee. Number one, to perpetuate her testimony, to make it of record, so that no matter what happens to her, we would have official record of what she intends to say.”

She clarified though that she is not privy to what Reyes intends to do, saying that others are also speculating on the reason of Reyes’ return.

She said a Senate hearing would give Reyes the opportunity to say what she wants to say.

Santiago wants the hearing to happen as soon as possible even before the Senate resumes session on May 5, warning that there could be “maneuverings” to prevent Reyes from telling all.

“If I were Enrile, as one of the major suspects in the case for plunder, I certainly would not want my own chief of staff to assume the status of a state witness because she would tell all against me. There could be a lot of maneuverings before Attorney Reyes gets to speak her turn in a public forum like a Senate media conference,” she said.

“Before [resumption of session] na dahil baka mamaya ay kausapin pa siya, takutin pa siya, kung ano pa kaya ang mangyari sa kanya. Habang nandito pa siya at nangako na rin siyang magsasalita siya sa media, she will make a public statement, e di ngayon na lang para matapos na. Kung wala siyang sasabihin man lang, ang kwenta niyan ay nakita natin na kamukha ni Napoles, ayaw pala niya mag-cooperate with the government. E di at least, we have formed some conclusions about her…”