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Ruby Tuason to back pork whistleblowers

Paterno Esmaquel II
(3rd UPDATE) Tuason's lawyer Dennis Manalo says Tuason will 'corroborate' the testimony of pork barrel scam whistleblowers who implicated at least 3 senators and a Senate chief of staff

OATH. Ruby Tuason takes her oath at the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday, February 7. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – A 15-page affidavit executed by Ruby Tuason, a former aide of then President Joseph Estrada, affirms the evidence of the justice department in the pork barrel scam. 

Tuason’s lawyer Dennis Manalo said Tuason will “corroborate” the testimony of pork barrel scam whistleblowers who implicated at least 3 senators and a Senate chief of staff in the controversy. (READ: Ex-Erap aide wants to turn state witness)

Previous testimonies by whistleblowers led by Benhur Luy identified senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce-Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, and Enrile’s former chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes as among those who benefitted from commissions relating to misused pork barrel.

“It will all be confirmed as to its material points. There may be items where they will not dovetail, or it will not be consistent, but as to its material points, they have substantially supported each other,” Manalo told reporters on Friday, February 7.

Manalo also said, Tuason “mentioned everything she knows and that includes names of all that she transacted with…There will be other names.” Tuason had been tagged by whistleblowers in the pork barrel scam as conduit for senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce-Enrile, and his former chief of staff, Gigi Reyes.

Tuason appeared with Manalo at the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City to re-affirm her sworn statement. She swore to the truthfulness of her statement at the Philippine consulate in San Francisco, California. (Watch scenes from her appearance below.)

At this point, the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation do not consider Tuason as a respondent in the plunder cases that have been filed with the Office of the Ombudsman. Tuason actually faces two plunder charges before the Ombudsman – one as active conduit in the abuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund of lawmakers, and the other relating to misuse of the P900-million Malampaya Fund which was coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform.

As conduit, Tuason allegedly collected the commissions that were due Estrada, Enrile and Reyes in exchange for cornering the lawmakers’ pork barrel. The transactions involved fake non-governmental organizations linked to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

His client, according to Manalo, will return to the government everything that she collected from transactions she was involved in. He said “no bargaining” took place and that arrangements on how the money will be returned have yet to be arrived at.

Full weight

Manalo said the presence of the two heads of agencies of the DOJ and the Ombudsman – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Conchita Carpio-Morales – is a strong indicator that “they give full value to the process and statement that has been released today.” 

OMBUDSMAN. Ruby Tuason speaks briefly with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima at the Ombudsman's office on Friday, February 7. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

As counsel of Tuason, he said he has prayed that the Ombudsman “will look favorably on her application and grant her full immunity.”

Clear conscience

Tuason is now a “provisional” state witness and is given conditional immunity.

Tuason told reporters she decided to testify “to clear my conscience.”

“It was such a very big sacrifice on my part, because these are close friends of mine. It really pains me that I had to do this,” she said.

She declined to name the “friends” she implicated.

Tuason decided to turn state witness after what Manalo described as “repeated discernment on her part.” This made her realize that her “only liberation from anxiety, fear, and a bothered conscience is disclosure of the truth,” Manalo added. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.