Trillanes: Enrile behind Tuason to sabotage case

Trillanes accuses Enrile of funding and supporting Ruby Tuason's testimony to sabotage the case

'ENRILE SHOW.' Senator Antonio Trillanes IV accuses Enrile of funding and supporting Ruby Tuason's testimony to sabotage the case. He says Enrile provided her lawyer Dennis Manalo (behind her in photo), who worked in a law firm with ties to Enrile. File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – For Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the testimony of pork barrel scam bagman Ruby Tuason is nothing but an “Enrile show.” 

Trillanes accused Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile of funding and supporting Tuason’s testimony to sabotage the pork barrel case. The senator urged the justice department and the Ombudsman not to fall for the supposed ploy and include the socialite in the plunder case.

“Who is she protecting? Isn’t it clear? The man gave her a lawyer and money. That’s my speculation,” Trillanes said in an interview on radio DZBB with Nimfa Ravelo on Sunday, February 16.

The senator, a fierce Enrile critic, was referring to the P40 million that Tuason said she got in commissions in the pork barrel scam, and is now offering to return to the government.

“Find out where it came from. There are many holes in her story,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes also said it was Enrile who gave Tuason her lawyer, Dennis Manalo, who resigned as a partner at the Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako law firm. Enrile was a partner in the firm from 1954 to 1966, according to his website.

“Ang sigurado niyang pinoprotektahan ang interes niya at ‘di babaliktad itong si Ruby Tuason. Ang abogadong katiwala nila ang ilalagay nila. Magaling na abogado iyang si Attorney Dennis Manalo pero tingnan mo ang affidavit niya, walang kakwenta-kwenta. ‘Di ganyan gumawa ang magaling na abogado. Alam mong ganyan talaga ang intensyon: sabotahe talaga,” Trillanes said.  

(Senator Enrile is ensuring that he protects his interests and Ruby Tuason won’t turn against him. The lawyer they gave her is a lawyer they trust. Attorney Dennis Manalo is a good lawyer but if you look at Tuason’s affidavit, it has no value whatsoever. That’s not the work of a good lawyer. Their intention is clear: to sabotage the case.)

Trillanes said he is preparing documents about Manalo’s connections to Enrile, and will reveal these in time.

Manalo has said he is no longer connected to the law firm. “I was a former partner at the Siguion-Reyna Law office. Right now my engagement with Mrs Ruby Tuason is in my own name not under the name of my former law office.”

Trillanes’ remarks come after Tuason said in a Senate hearing on Thursday that she was not aware if Enrile knew she gave kickbacks to his resigned chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes. Tuason only testified that she personally handed bags of cash to Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Reyes.

“I can only presume Senator Enrile knows the transactions with Attorney Gigi,” Tuason told Trillanes.

This prompted Trillanes and fellow Enrile rival Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to conclude that Tuason is covering up for Enrile. Trillanes though is now going as far as saying that Enrile schemed for Tuason to surface after 6 months in hiding and implicate only Estrada, and not him.

Tuason, Enrile, Estrada, Reyes and alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles face a plunder complaint for allegedly conniving to funnel pork barrel funds to Napoles’ fake non-governmental organizations, and pocket their cuts of the ghost projects. (READ: Pork Tales: A story of corruption)

Tuason has been provisionally admitted to the Witness Protection Program (WPP) and is applying to be a state witness. She is a former social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, and was married to Carlos “Butch” Tuason, cousin of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo. (READ: The secrets of Ruby Tuason and Tuason: Key witness or Trojan horse?)

‘Include Tuason in charge sheet’

Trillanes said that the government will be shortchanged if it accepts Tuason as a state witness.

He said that her testimony is unnecessary because she failed to give details like addresses, dates and amounts of the kickbacks she delivered. Trillanes said the case is complete even just relying on the whistleblowers’ accounts and documentary evidence.

Kung ganyan lang naman ang ibibigay niya eh ‘di tuluyan na rin siya, isama na rin siya. Kasi lugi ang gobyerno dito dahil by her own admission, malaki ang role niya dito sa nangyayaring skandalo na ito. Tapos ang ibibigay mo sa amin ay kakapiranggot lang na testimony so huwag na lang,” he said.

(If that is the case, then it’s better for the government to sue her and include her in the case. By her own admission, she played a big role in this scandal and then she will just give scant details so nevermind.)

Trillanes reiterated that Tuason is withholding details about her dealings with Enrile while implicating Estrada.

“Hindi naman ito bargain na, ‘O, 50% lang ng katotohanan ang ibibigay mo, nasa WPP ka na tapos tanggal ka na sa kaso.’ Hindi naman pwede ganoon. Dapat mabuo. Malulugi ang gobyerno niyan.” 

(This is not a bargain that, “Okay, you tell 50% of the truth and you will be admitted to the WPP and removed from the case.” That can’t be. She should give the whole truth. The government will be shortchanged.)

‘We fell for the drama’

While Santiago also believes that Tuason covered up for Enrile, she expressed a different position on Tuason’s qualifications as a state witness. During the hearing, Santiago called Tuason “a perfect state witness” and her testimony “bull’s eye.”

Santiago said that Tuason’s testimony that Enrile picked up Reyes from her meetings with Tuason is enough to convict him under the principle of conspiracy in criminal law.

“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.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has also defended Tuason’s testimony, saying as a bagman, her only interest was to get her share and did not bother recording the transactions.

De Lima called Tuason’s testimony “slam dunk evidence” while Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III labeled it “a 3-point, buzzer beater, winning shot.”

Yet Trillanes said Tuason’s testimony did not live up to all the hype. He said he is scrutinizing her statements because he is not fond of “riding the bandwagon.”

“Nadala tayo sa drama na ito tapos ay kulang naman pala sa rekado, so to speak. May build-up kasi masyado. Nasobrahan ang build-up before the testimony kaya noong [dumating], medyo kapos.”

(We were carried away by the drama when her testimony was half-baked. There was too much build-up before the testimony so when it happened, it fell short of expectations.)

Trillanes urged De Lima to be skeptical of Tuason and other scam players who will surface. “Cover their flank to make sure hindi sila naiikutan (they won’t be fooled).

In a separate DZBB interview, Senate President Franklin Drilon said it is up to the Ombudsman to assess Tuason’s testimony. He gave his own basketball reference.

“Kung sa basketball, ito’y first quarter pa lang. Mahaba pa, marami pa masyadong proseso bago mapaghusgahan kung ito po’y magiging state witness si Ruby Tuason.”

(If this were basketball, we’re just in the first quarter. There’s still a long process to determine if Ruby Tuason qualifies as state witness.) – Rappler.com

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