Gigi Reyes: The Most Powerful Non-elected Politician in the Philippine Senate
By N Mark Castro
As early as 1998, rumor mills had it that Jessica “Gigi” Reyes had more than a professional relationship with Juan Ponce-Enrile when she briefly worked in his powerful law firm.
Jessica “Gigi” Reyes had been with Enrile ever since he set foot in the Philippine senate since the early 1990s. While Philippine politics — and the country in general — had been accustomed to scandalous affairs, including former president Joseph Estrada’s harem — none has taken a more national interest than that of the rumor hounding Reyes and Enrile.
Even Chicago Tribune reported years ago of the high profile separation of Enrile and his socialite wife Cristina due to the alleged relationship of Reyes and Enrile.
In its January 24 issue, a Philippine Daily Inquirer story detailed how Reyes is considered the “24th senator,” citing information from Cayetano.
According to the Inquirer story, Reyes exercises extraordinary powers in the Senate. She signs cheques in behalf of the Senate President. She issues memos to Senate personnel. She is not only allowed inside the lounge that is supposedly exclusive to senators, she can also speak her mind during Senate caucuses.
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST
Philippine entertainment is well entrenched in the lives of so many in a country of nearly 100 million that it isn’t surprising to find entertainers (actors/singers) crossing over to Philippine politics. And scandalous sexual affairs is what enjoins the disparate lives of the rich and the poor.
Inasmuch as affairs per se in the Philippines has become an accepted norm, it’s when it’s taken a national turn that makes it interesting for the entire country, with Philippine media feeding off it for national ratings.
And a story like this is fodder for national news.
At the time of Gigi Reyes’ marriage with Rodolfo Reyes, he was rumored to have been appointed to the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority to get him out of town a lot.
It will be recalled that it was Juan Ponce-Enrile who authored the law creating the free port in his home province.
According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report:
The husband faxed a statement to reporters declaring that he “absolutely has no doubt that there is nothing going on” between his wife and Enrile, “except for a professional relationship and a strong friendship which my family is fortunate to have with the good senator.”
Rodolfo “Inky” Reyes said his wife had done nothing wrong except be a loyal, trustworthy and dedicated chief of staff to Enrile, a position she held since 1995. He said Enrile was “decent in his dealings with my wife, myself and our family.”
“I am positively sure that he wouldn’t do anything to hurt us or our marriage,” the husband said then.
Gigi and Rodolfo have been separated for some time now.
30 PIECES OF SILVER
The integrity of the entire Philippine Senate is currently being adjudicated before the Court of Public Opinion, with netizens doing its own investigative report on the status of Reyes-Enrile relationship and, more importantly, the power she wields with his acquiescence. Reyes signs multi-million pesos for the disbursement of various funds for various projects under the approval of Enrile himself.
Which brought light to their own alleged affair.
It all began when Senator Alan P. Cayetano, during his privilege speech, questioned the uneven amount the senators had received from the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) fund Enrile had distributed.
Word War ensued, with Enrile citing the Php 37 million debt of the late Senator Rene Cayetano – Alan’s father – during his law partnership days in Enrile’s law firm. Enrile went on to count all the “blessings” he had supposedly extended to the Cayetanos.
Sen. Cayetano countered with Gigi Reyes’ clout over Senate operations.
WHERE DO WE GO?
This delicious gossip will continue to hold sway all the way to the next elections but, unfortunately, it is highly doubtful it would impact the results of the certainty of veteran politicians to keep their power.
Meanwhile, I stumbled upon this video to give you an inside-look as to what makes Jessica “Gigi” Reyes the most powerful non-elected politician in the entire Philippine Senate.