MANILA, Philippines – Despite Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s statement that Ruby Tuason’s testimony would be “slamdunk evidence” against him, Senator Jinggoy Estrada remained defiant, and appealed to his father’s former social secretary to stop making stories up.
In an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) on Friday night, February 7, the senator, who is implicated in the pork barrel scam, said he never authorized Tuason to deal with his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). (READ: The secrets of Ruby Tuason)
The justice department late last year filed plunder complaints against a number of lawmakers, including Estrada, and their staff or asociates for allegedly endorsing fake organizations run by Janet Lim Napoles so they would become beneficiaries of their PDAF that were released through agencies. In exchange, lawmakers allegedly got huge kickbacks while their middlemen like Tuason got commissions.
Tuason, who is a respondent in the plunder compaints over the PDAF and the Malampaya fund, was admitted as a provisional state witness by the justice department. Tuason’s lawyer said her testimony would “corroborate” earlier testimonies by whistleblowers in the scam.
Two other senators, former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Bong Revilla, are also implicated in the scam.
Estrada recalled in the ANC interview that in August 2013, Tuason told him over lunch at his parents’ house in Polk Street in Greenhills that she was leaving the country. The following month, news about the PDAF scam broke.
‘She asked for money’
Tuason returned to the country on Friday, February 7, after a month-long negotiation with emissaries for her to turn state witness. She executed an affidavit in California on February 4 and reaffirmed it before the Ombudsman on Friday morning.
Her lawyer has filed before the Ombudsman a motion to grant Tuason immunity from prosecution.
Rappler earlier reported that Tuason wanted to be admitted as state witness because of pressure from her children.
De Lima said that based on Tuason’s affidavit, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Napoles asked Tuason to introduce her to Estrada and Enrile in 2004. Estrada denied Tuason’s claims, and said he met Napoles through actress Lorna Tolentino in 2008.
The Estrada family knew of Tuason’s plans even before she flew back to the Philippines through his mother, former Senator Loi Estrada. (READ: Jinggoy: Tuason won’t incriminate me)
The younger Estrada said he did not bother to contact Tuason anymore. – Rappler.com
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