Jinggoy: No pork dealings with Tantoco, Ranillo
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Jinggoy Estrada admitted knowing the individuals socialite Ruby Tuason mentioned in her affidavit, but denied dealing with them to pocket his pork barrel funds.
Estrada commented on Tuason’s affidavit, where she said actor Mat Ranillo III and Estrada’s family friend Justa Tantoco were involved in the senator’s transactions in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.
“I don’t know where they got those names: Tita Justa, Mat Ranillo, I never dealt with them,” Estrada told reporters on Wednesday, February 12.
Estrada said he was not privy to the transactions, “but I think it never happened.”
In Tuason’s affidavit, she said the initial transaction between Estrada and alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in 2004 was cancelled for a reason she did not know. Read the full affidavit below.
Tuason then said Estrada eventually “consummated” the transaction with Napoles in 2004 through Ranillo, with the delivery of P11.97 million to a house at No. 1564 Mahogany Street, Dasmariñas Village, in Makati.
Tuason, who also lives in Dasmariñas Village, said Justa Tantoco lives in that house. Reports named Tantoco as an aide of Estrada’s mother, former Senator Luisa “Loi” Ejercito Estrada.
Tantoco and Tuason belonged to the MARE or Masa ang Riwasa ni Erap group, a women’s group that supported former President Joseph Estrada’s 1998 candidacy. (READ: The secrets of Ruby Tuason)
Senator Jinggoy Estrada said: “Tita Justa is a very close friend of my mother. She has nothing to do with this. I don’t know why her name cropped up in her (Tuason’s) affidavit.”
He added: “I have never dealt with Mat Ranillo. I only know him because he is also an actor. He belongs to the movie industry.”
'Labayen won't testify'
Estrada also addressed reports that his co-accused and former secretary, Pauline Labayen, will follow Tuason’s example and speak against him. Labayen resigned last year and went missing since the scam broke out.
“I’m very confident my former secretary will not turn against me. She has nothing to do with this. She was also implicated by the whistleblowers. I haven’t talked to her for a long, long time since she resigned from my office,” Estrada said.
This is the same statement Estrada gave about Tuason last week, only for the socialite to return to the Philippines and implicate him in the scam days later. (READ: Jinggoy: Tuason won't incriminate me)
Estrada faces a plunder complaint for allegedly conniving with Napoles to funnel his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to her fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks of 40% or more of the ghost project.
A close family friend of the Estradas, Tuason surfaced last week after hiding in California since August 2013. She admitted to being a bagman for Estrada and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile. She offered to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
‘Spare my mother’
Senator Estrada also branded as unfair news reports quoting Luy as saying that his mother also channeled her PDAF to Napoles NGOs.
“I hope they spare my mother. Nananahimik na ang nanay ko eh. Ayaw nga niya itong pulitika. The timing is very suspect,” he said. (She is keeping quiet. She doesn’t want politics.)
Estrada compared the reports about his mother to those implicating in the scam former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr, father of his co-accused Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. Estrada said the reports on Revilla Sr came a day after the younger Revilla delivered a privilege speech attacking the Aquino administration.
Yet in Estrada’s case, reports that his mother gave PDAF to Napoles’ NGOs came out as early as December 2013, even before Tuason surfaced.
Estrada said his mother “feels so upset” about the reports. He said her lawyers will be able to give her side of the story.
He slammed the whistleblowers and the justice department for supposedly dragging his mother into the scam.
“Sana sabihin na lang nila sino pa ang ibang senador na 'tinatago nila, na ayaw nilang pangalanan. Ilabas na nila kung meron silang dokumento,” Estrada said.
(I hope they just say who are the other senators involved, whose names they are hiding. They should expose this if they have documents.)
‘Hearing to depict us as demons’
The Senate blue ribbon committee confirmed that Tuason will attend the hearing on Thursday, February 14, along with Luy, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and whistleblowers Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas, and Luy’s mother, Gertrudes.
On the eve of the hearing, Estrada again discredited the Senate investigation and attacked the whistleblowers and his colleagues’ motivation for holding the inquiry.
“I think the hearing tomorrow is meant to depict us as demons here, as villains here again, as what they did during the previous hearings,” he said.
“It will just be a question and answer. The other senators will ask, ‘Is what Mrs Tuason saying true, Benhur?’ Then they will corroborate their testimonies. They will try to reconcile all the figures, all the dates if they can still remember.”
The senator has accused Tuason, Luy, and the National Bureau of Investigation of fabricating figures and testimonies against him in their meetings on Monday and Wednesday.
Estrada branded the Senate probe a “telenovela” and a zarzuela.
Asked for a message to his colleagues, Estrada said, “To quote [former US President] Thomas Jefferson, ‘A politician looks forward to the next election but a statesman looks forward to the next generation.’ I hope they become statesmen.” – Rappler.com