MANILA, Philippines – The partial review of Senate CCTV video of self-confessed bagwoman Ruby Tuason did not show her carrying a duffel bag as she testified, but neither did it show her carrying trays of sandwiches as Senator Jinggoy Estrada claimed.
Estrada cited a review of the CCTV footage in his privilege speech to argue that Tuason was lying when she said she delivered duffel bags of cash to him at the Senate, supposedly representing his kickbacks in the pork barrel scam.
The senator cited a March 10 report of the Senate sergeant-at-arms showing the office found 8 instances of a woman who looked like Tuason visiting the Senate in November and December 2008. In the video, the woman carried only a lady’s bag. (READ: Full text: Jinggoy on ‘polluted’ witnesses Cunanan, Tuason)
Showing screenshots of the CCTV, Estrada said in his speech that the footage debunked Tuason’s testimony.
“Take note of the bag she’s carrying. There was no duffel bag. She was walking on the 6th floor. Note she’s carrying only her handbag,” Estrada said on Wednesday, March 12.
Yet the senator failed to point out that Tuason also was not carrying trays of sandwiches, as he earlier claimed.
In her February 13 testimony at the Senate, Tuason said she visited Estrada at the Senate in 2008 bringing duffel bags of cash. She said he asked her to pass through the basement entrance to avoid inspection, and even sent his security aides to assist her.
Estrada responded that Tuason delivered sandwiches and pansit (noodles) to him at the Senate, not bags of cash. He admitted he sent his security aides to fetch Tuason to help her carry the food.
The senator asked the sergeant-at-arms to check and release CCTV footage to prove his claims. The sergeant-at-arms though said they already deleted CCTV footage from the basement parking, but that they still have footage of the Senate entrance and the 6 floors of the building.
Senate sergeant-at-arms Jose Balajadia Jr told reporters no tray of sandwiches was seen in the video so far.
“There’s no tray. I didn’t see any tray. It was just the bag. She was walking around with the bag on Nov 17, 2008,” Balajadia said.
Balajadia also said the CCTV did not show Tuason with Estrada or his security aides. “Wala siyang kasama, siya lang.” (She was alone.)
Estrada and Tuason are respondents in the multi-billion peso corruption scandal, where they allegedly connived with mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to funnel pork barrel funds to her fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
Tuason was a close Estrada family friend and a former social secretary of Estrada’s father, former President Joseph Estrada. She implicated the senator in the scam in a bid to become a state witness.
Estrada criticized her testimony as “polluted and self-serving” in his privilege speech.
3 quarters more to review
The sergeant-at-arms stressed that the report he submitted to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Estrada was partial, covering only the last quarter of 2008. His office is still reviewing video taken during the rest of 2008.
“We saw what appears to be Ms Tuason on the 6th floor on different dates in November and December. Now, I say ‘what appears to be’ because I am not sure it was her, but it looks like her,” Balajadia added.
The 6th floor houses the Office of the Senate President Pro-Tempore, a post Estrada held in the 15th Congress. It is also where the offices of the Senate President, Senate Majority Leader, and Senate secretary are located.
Estrada’s co-accused, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, was then Senate President at the time.
The following are the dates of Tuason’s Senate visits, and a description based on the partial CCTV review:
Balajadia said his office will submit more periodic reports as they go on with their review of the CCTV footage. He said it will take his office 3 months to complete the work.
Here is the report Balajadia submitted: