Jinggoy: Luy, Tuason cooking figures
MANILA, Philippines – “I think she will crumble in cross-examination.”
Senator Jinggoy Estrada sought to punch holes in the affidavit of socialite Ruby Tuason, saying her meeting with principal whistleblower Benhur Luy was not meant to corroborate each other’s statements but to “orchestrate” her testimony against him.
“Ngayon, may lumabas na bagong ledger si Tita Ruby. Wala namang ledger iyon. Ngayon, gumawa na siya ng ledger para lang mag-tally ang figures. My goodness!”
(Now, there is already a supposed ledger from Tita Ruby. At first, she didn’t have a ledger. Now, they are making a ledger just so their figures will tally.)
Estrada was referring to the meeting between Tuason and Luy at the National Bureau of Investigation on Monday, February 10.
The senator said that in Tuason’s 15-page affidavit, she did not present a record of the alleged kickbacks she delivered to him and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile. In Tuason’s affidavit, she also said she “could not exactly remember” the amounts but estimated these to be more than those listed in Luy’s ledger.
Yet on Tuesday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Tuason as saying the commission she handed to Estrada from 2007 to 2009 was P35 million, while Luy’s ledger recorded a kickback of P9 million.
Levito Baligod, Luy’s lawyer, explained the difference by saying that Estrada had dealt directly with alleged scam mastermind Janet Napoles, and no longer used Tuason as a bagman after some time.
Ledger of kickbacks
A former Napoles aide, Luy kept a ledger of the kickbacks Napoles allegedly gave to lawmakers. The ledger also listed the bagmen who received the cash on their behalf.
Estrada however saw something sinister in the meeting. He told reporters on Tuesday, “The reason why Mrs Tuason and Benhur Luy met yesterday was to, of course, tally the figures. Hindi alam ni [Mrs Tuason] magkano ang ibinigay sa akin so ja-jack-up-in nila iyon to reach the threshold of plunder.” (Mrs Tuason does not know the amount so they will jack it up to reach the threshold of plunder.)
“Sinabi ni Benhur Luy, I received P9 million. Ngayon sinasabi ni Tita Ruby, P35 million na raw. Talagang pinapaabot nila roon sa P50 million threshold.”
(Benhur Luy said I received P9 million. Now Tita Ruby is saying it’s P35 million. They want it to reach the plunder threshold of P50 million.)
Estrada faces a plunder complaint for allegedly conniving with Napoles to channel his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to her fake NGOs to receive kickbacks amounting to 40% or more of the ghost project. Tuason, Napoles, Enrile and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr are his co-accused.
Estrada said it was clear Tuason, Luy and the NBI were fabricating the figures to make sure that their testimonies jibe.
He said even before the Luy-Tuason meeting, the NBI already “fed” stories to Tuason. NBI officials and agents went to California to ask Tuason questions, which became the basis of her affidavit.
“Of course, niluluto. This was well orchestrated. Simula nang magpunta [sa US] ang mga NBI, I presume they fed the stories to Mrs Tuason,” he said. (Of course, they are cooking it up. Since the NBI went to the US, I presume they fed stories to Mrs Tuason.)
A Rappler report detailed that Estrada got acquitted in his first plunder case in 2007 because he was able to rebut with documentary evidence allegations against him by prosecution witnesses.
‘Tuason didn’t care about SAROs’
The senator detailed the supposed holes in Tuason’s affidavit. He cited as example the SARO numbers that appeared in the sworn statement.
“She’s in the United States. How can she remember the SARO numbers if this wasn’t fed to her? The undersecretary of the justice department went there and said, these are the SARO numbers, just sign the document. They tallied the SARO numbers from Benhur.”
Estrada said, “Do you think Mrs Tuason will remember the SARO numbers? I don’t think so, and she doesn’t care about the SARO numbers.”
The senator said another flaw in Tuason’s affidavit was that it had no specifics. “There are no dates, no amount.”
Estrada also questioned the P40 million Tuason promised to return to the government.
“She said she had a 1.5% referral fee. How much are the supposed commissions of the senators? Will that tally, if her commission is only 1.5%? If you compute that, it would be more than 1.5%, isn’t it? If the P40 million that she is returning is what she claims to be her referral fee or commission, how much is the actual bulk that went to the senators that she is claiming?”
Estrada said assuming Tuason received P40 million during the time she still acted as his bagman, the supposed commission of the senators would have to amount to hundreds of millions or billions.
“Ang laki noon. Ngayon tingnan natin sa CCTV kung talagang nag-deliver siya dito ng pera sa akin,” he said. (That’s such a huge amount. Now let’s check the CCTV if she did deliver that money to me.)
“Let’s see if it will show up in the CCTV that she gave me P35 million. How many kilos is that? Can she even carry that,” he added.
Estrada has asked the Senate sergeant-at-arms to release the CCTV of Tuason’s visits to the Senate to “clear the coast” about the socialite’s allegations.
‘NBI to file supplemental affidavit’
Because of his theory that the NBI, Tuason and Luy are fabricating evidence against him, Estrada said he expects the bureau to file a supplemental affidavit before the Ombudsman.
“That’s where they will put the figures. They will put the dates. I hope they are right with the dates.”
“Kasi iyong original complaint kulang, wala talaga eh. That is not enough to pin me down. Sinabi lang na nagbigay siya ng pera sa akin dito at sa San Juan daw. Walang detalye.” (Because the original complaint is not enough. They just said that they gave me money allegedly in San Juan. There are no details.)
Estrada reiterated that there are “higher-ups” who seek to pin him down.
Estrada also commented on Tuason’s upcoming testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. Chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III said it will be “no holds-barred” and Tuason will be allowed to name names.
“Go ahead. I am unfazed. Of course, she is going to fabricate stories already for the public to believe. This is all trial by publicity.” – Rappler.com