MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Saturday, February 15, that the mere presence of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile during his former chief of staff’s meetings with Ruby Tuason “is enough proof of a conspiracy and proves Enrile’s guilt to a moral certainty.”
“It is now obvious that Tuason was covering up for Enrile, so that the entire criminal liability for plunder could be shifted to Reyes alone. That is devious of Tuason, and heartless of Enrile. He is ready to sacrifice Reyes to save himself,” Santiago said.
On Thursday, February 13, whistleblower Tuason testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee, saying that Enrile would sometimes join her meetings with Gigi Reyes – Enrile’s former chief of staff – for a cup of coffee.
Tuason, who admitted to being a “go-between” between lawmakers and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, asked to be made state witness in exchange for her testimony linking government officials to Napoles.
In her Senate testimony, Tuason said she personally delivered bags of cash to Senator Jinggoy Estrada, a claim denied by the senator. (READ: Tuason delivered sandwiches, not cash)
In the case of Enrile, however, Tuason said that he didn’t stay long and would be silent throughout the meetings. After coffee, Enrile would leave and sometimes pick up Reyes, said Tuason. (READ: Tuason unsure Enrile knew of kickbacks)
Santiago noted that during her interpellation of Tuason, she purposely did not ask Tuason for more details when she was insisting on Enrile’s silence during the meetings, because she “did not want Tuason to know that she had just revealed important testimony crucial to the conviction of Enrile.”
“Even if Tuason stated that Enrile did not say anything inculpatory, the mere fact that Enrile sat at a table with the conspirators Tuason and Reyes is sufficient proof that he approved of their illicit transactions over the pork barrel,” said Santiago. The senator earlier described Tuason as a “perfect state witness.”(READ: Tuason perfect state witness – Miriam)
Santiago added that under the Revised Penal Code, “A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it.”
Why would he go?
The law merely requires the accused to perform an overt act in pursuance of the conspiracy, said Santiago.
“Even assuming for the sake of argument that Enrile was just sitting or drinking coffee or smiling fatuitously, his mere presence is sufficient to convince the court to a moral certainty that he was the mastermind pulling the strings of Reyes, so that they could profit from the illicit scam,” Santiago argued. (WATCH: Tuason’s testimony strong enough to incriminate)
“In the first place, why would a senator go out of his way to pick up his chief of staff? It is widely known that Enrile kept Reyes as his concubine. Why would he pick up his concubine when she was dealing with a conduit for illegal pork barrel releases?” Santiago asked. (READ: At 90, Enrile a bundle of contradictions)
“Human experience teaches that there was no reason for Enrile to be present, unless it was to assure Tuason that he approved of the illegal transaction, and that he authorized his chief of staff to act on his behalf,” she continued.
Tuason was the former social secretary of former president Joseph Estrada. She was among those facing plunder complaints in the Office of the Ombudsman for the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.
After leaving the country in August 2013, Tuason returned to Manila on February 7 to corroborate the whistleblowers’ statements that Enrile and Estrada received kickbacks from alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Enrile has admitted that he did meet Tuason over lunch, but stated that they discussed a prospective property transaction, not pork barrel kickbacks. – Rappler.com