Gigi Reyes' Sandiganbayan cell ‘inhuman’ – Erap
MANILA, Philippines – Leave it to a former action star turned ousted president and now Manila Mayor to come to the defense of a woman caught in the thick of the country’s biggest corruption scandal in recent history.
Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Tuesday, July 8, urged authorities to move lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes to a better detention facility, saying the detention center at anti-graft court Sandiganbayan is “inhuman.”
In an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel, Estrada lamented the conditions inside the detention facility, which he saw for himself after visiting Reyes for about 10 to 15 minutes that day.
“Kahit ako, lalaki ako, mahihirapan ako doon (Even a man like myself would have a hard time there),” added Erap.
Reyes has been detained at the Sandiganbayan since her surrender on Friday, July 4. Reyes, along with her former boss Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, face graft and plunder charges for allegedly pocketing millions of pesos in public funds through fake projects implemented by bogus non-governmental organizations.
Enrile surrendered to police authorities on Friday, and is staying at the Philippine National Police General Hospital inside Camp Crame.
Reyes was ordered moved to a regular jail in Quezon City, but the court first asked the jail warden to report on their ability to detain a high-profile person such as Reyes. The warden reported they would not be able to accommodate her.
Commitment orders for the two have yet to be issued by Sandiganbayan. Ahead of the issuance of a commitment order, Reyes asked the court to transfer her to the PNP Custodial Center inside Camp Crame, a “3-star hotel” for detainees according to one human rights lawyer.
Estrada said it was not right for a woman to be incarcerated inside the Sandiganbayan. “She’s alone in her cell and parang (it's like) very inhuman ang place where she is in. Puro lalaki yung nasa labas….Siya lang babae doon. Wala man lang lady guard,” he added.
(She’s the only woman there. It’s all men outside, there are no female guards.)
The PNP on Monday, July 7, said the “original plan” was for Reyes to be detained at its custodial center. But the plan fell through when Reyes decided to surrender before the court directly.
Still, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said they are ready to accommodate Reyes, should the court order her detention inside Crame.
Estrada said Reyes has no privacy inside the Sandiganbayan cell, and that visitors are only allowed one at a time. Reyes’ mother visited her on Monday, July 7.
“Sana malipat siya doon sa lugar ni Jinggoy, at least may separate rooms, may privacy,” said Estrada. (I hope she gets moved to where Jinggoy is detained. At least there are separate rooms, privacy.)
The impromptu visit was a surprise to Reyes, who teared up when she met Estrada. Estrada said he knows Reyes from way back, during his stint as a senator.
Reyes has been a member of Enrile’s staff since the early 1990s, and his chief of staff since the mid-1990s. (READ: 'The Boss' and Gigi Reyes)
The Manila mayor was at the Sandiganbayan to attend the bail hearing for his son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada. The younger Estrada and Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr are also accused of involvement in the same scam and are both detained in Camp Crame.
Should Reyes be moved to the custodial center, she won’t be joining Estrada and Revilla in the newly-renovated facility in the custodial center compound. She will instead be assigned to a female-only ward inside the facility. – Rappler.com