MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima said she will allow provisional state witness Ruby Tuason to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday, February 13.
In a press conference Friday, February 7, the Justice Secretary said there is “no reason to decline” Senator Miriam Santiago’s earlier summon for Tuason to appear before the senate committee, which is looking into the pork barrel scam. (READ: Ruby Tuason to back pork whistleblowers)
“She would have no choice, because precisely that is one of her undertakings under the WPP provisional admission that she binds herself to cooperate and participate in any proper proceedings related to these cases,” she said.
Tuason was admitted as a provisional state witness by the DOJ after a month of long-distance coordination. Her testimony is said to pin down Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile as direct recipients of cash from the multimillion pork barrel scam. (READ: DOJ: Tuason testimony ‘slam dunk’ vs Estrada, Enrile)
The DOJ Chief said Committee Chairman Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III has already informed her about the hearing through a text message.
“As far as DOJ is concerned, it’s a go,” de Lima said.
Santiago earlier wrote to Guingona III, asking Tuason to appear before Senate.
“As member of the Blue Ribbon Committee, I respectfully recommend a public hearing to receive the testimony of Ms. Ruby Tuason, who is reported today to have been admitted to the Witness Protection Program,” Santiago wrote.
“She should testify on charges of alleged plunder now pending with the Ombudsman, against herself, as well as certain senators,” Santiago added.
Santiago said she wants to interpellate Tuason. She did not say what she would ask her.
“Should you approve this proposal, I would also like to reserve my interpellation for Ms. Tuason,” she said.
Tuason, a former aide of then President Joseph Estrada, executed a 15-page affidavit affirming 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) – with reports from Buena Bernal/Rappler.com