Ruby Tuason's P40M return money not enough?
MANILA, Philippines – Pork barrel scam whistleblower Ruby Tuason was granted on May 2 immunity from criminal prosecution after returning the full amount of P40 million derived from irregular transactions involving lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
But is this amount enough to cover all the money she allegedly got in commissions from her involvement in the scam?
In her May 12, 2014 affidavit, Napoles revealed that Tuason earned more than P50 million in commissions alone from transactions involving senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada from 2007 to 2009.
In the sworn affidavits of the whistleblowers dated September 11, 2013, whistleblower Marina Sulas earlier explained that the distribution of commissions from PDAF was 50% to lawmakers, 5% to their chiefs of staff, 10% to the implementing agency, and 35% to Napoles.
But Napoles claimed in her affidavit that agents actually get 5% to 10% in commissions.
Based on her affidavit, too, transactions involving Enrile and Estrada earned for Tuason from 2007-2009 kickbacks whose percentages ranged from 10%-25% of amounts involved (see table below).
|SARO number||Amount allocated||Implementing agency||Percentage of Tuason's commission||Amount of Tuason's commission|
|Commissions from Senator Juan Ponce Enrile|
|Commissions from Senator Jinggoy Estrada|
All the transactions identified in the table above are identical to those listed in the plunder case filed against Tuason and the senators.
Whistleblowers earlier revealed that Tuason received commissions for Enrile only. But in her own affidavit submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman on February 7, Tuason admitted bringing money directly to both Enrile and Estrada.
Napoles said she personally met Tuason to hand her cash on all occasions.
In her sworn statement, Tuason said she personally delivered kickbacks to Estrada in Greenhills, San Juan, and at his Senate office. Gigi Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff and an alleged paramour – according to Enrile's own wife Cristina – allegedly picked up cash from Tuason’s house in Dasmariñas Village in Makati City. On some occasions, she met with Tuason in restaurants in Taguig and Makati.
Estrada could not and did not deny his closeness with Tuason. Besides being a social secretary of former president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Tuason was also a contributor to the younger Estrada’s 2010 senatorial candidacy.
She was married to the late Carlos "Butch" Tuason, a close friend of the former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the cousin of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo. (READ: The secrets of Ruby Tuason)
Malampaya money commissions, too
Apart from the more than P50 million in kickbacks from the two senators, Napoles also revealed in her affidavit that Tuason took home more than half of the amount of the P900-million Malampaya fund.
Napoles narrated that Tuason referred to her in November 2009 the Malampaya fund, saying it would be used for the campaign of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party in 2010.
Napoles personally delivered the money to Tuason's house in Damsariñas Village, Makati.
But it didn't stop there, as Tuason also asked for the 35% (P315 million) originally intended for the purchase of goods for the beneficiaries. Tuason said mayors wanted it delivered by cash to fund their election campaign.
In all, Tuason got P855 million from the Malampaya fund – an amount larger than the P242 million in Malampaya commissions earlier identified in news reports. If added to the P50.93 million in kickbacks from the two senators, Tuason collected as much as P905.93 million in commissions.
The plunder case involving the Malampaya fund remains pending before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Napoles said in her affidavit, "Around the period of the P900 Million Malampaya fund project, Ruby was able to build a Three Hundred Million Pesos (P300,000,000) worth house in Dasmariñas Village along Mahogany Street."
In a privilege speech, Estrada hinted that aside from the mansion, Tuason has other several properties and a business funded by commissions from the scam.
Read Napoles' May 12, 2014 affidavit here. Tuason's involvement in the Malampaya fund scam is narrated on pages 11-14, while her involvement in the PDAF scam is narrated on pages 14-35.
Much bigger amount
So why return P40 million only? Tuason's lawyer Dennis Manalo earlier said they arrived at the said amount based on the pork barrel transaction records of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Sulas claimed seeing Tuason receiving money from Napoles at the JLN Corporation office in 2011. This means that Tuason could have collected more than what was recorded in Luy's ledger which covered the years 2007-2009 only.
Sought for comment, Manalo said he needed clearance from the Office of the Ombudsman. – Rappler.com