‘I delivered cash to Estrada’

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Ruby Tuason gestures while answering a question at the Senate on Thursday. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI

Ruby Tuason gestures while answering a question at the Senate on Thursday. PHOTO BY EDWIN MULI

RUBY Tuason, seen by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee as the missing link that directly connects Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada to Janet Lim-Napoles, disclosed on Thursday that she delivered Estrada’s pork barrel commissions four times. She claimed two of the cash deliveries were made in the Senate and that she had to use a trolley at one time because the bag containing the money “was big.”

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Tuason narrated how she personally delivered Estrada’s “cuts” from the use of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel when she appeared before the Senate for the first time yesterday.

According to her, she first met Napoles in 2004 when her husband, Carlos Tuason, introduced her to the businesswoman who at that time was interested in buying their house in Bel-Air. Napoles did not buy the house but the two became friends.

Tuason told senators that the first transaction made between Napoles and Estrada was in 2004, involving a project amounting to P37.5 million.

She said Napoles gave Estrada an advance commission of P5.7 million which she delivered to the senator’s residence in San Juan. However, Estrada refused to accept the money and ordered it returned to Napoles.

She said she later found out that the project was given to Matt Ranillo. This was confirmed by Benhur Luy, who was also present during the proceedings. Luy said it was he who delivered Estrada’s commission of P11.9 million for that particular project. He added that he handed the money to Pauline Labayen, Estrada’s former secretary, at the residence of Justa Tantoco, the chief of staff of then Sen. Loi Estrada, mother of Jinggoy.

Labayen left the country after being implicated in the pork scam last year.

Tuason said the first successful transaction she had with Estrada was in December 2007, where the senator was able to get a P25 million cut from a project of the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) that was funded by his pork barrel.

In 2008, Tuason said she made two cash deliveries in Estrada’s office at the Senate. It was the senator who personally received the money in both occasions.

Tuason, however, admitted that she could not remember the exact dates and the amount of cash she gave to Estrada in those two occasions.

“I delivered [money]here in the Senate twice, there was a time when I needed to use a trolley because the bag is big,” she told the senators.

She said somebody from Estrada’s office escorted her so that her vehicle would be allowed to enter the basement parking lot which was designated only for senators.

Estrada also sent his staff to fetch her so that her bag would not undergo security check.

“He has a sala in his office. It’s just put on the floor next to his desk,” Tuason said.

At one time, she said Estrada called her late at night and asked her to bring P1 million to a comedy bar along Wilson Street in San Juan.

Not Enrile
Tuason also admitted that she also delivered pork commissions for Enrile but she did not personally deal with him. She said it was Enrile’s chief-of-staff, Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, who always received the money. The transactions were made either in a restaurant or in her residence.

She said she and Reyes were friends, which was why Napoles was able to get projects funded by Enrile’s PDAF.

But eventually, Tuason was taken out of the picture because Napoles was able to directly transact with Estrada and Enrile through Labayen and Reyes respectively.

Tuason said she never got to talk with Enrile when she was with Reyes, although Enrile would sit down with them sometimes.

Although she believes that Enrile could have had direct knowledge of their PDAF transactions, Tuason admitted that she has no evidence to prove it.

“She [Reyes] has an authority to handle PDAF. He [Enrile] has full trust on Atty. Gigi,” Tuason added.

Enrile earlier said that he never authorized Reyes or any of his staff to discuss pork barrel transactions with Tuason. He also denied receiving commissions from his pork projects.

But to some members of the Blue Ribbon committee, Tuason’s testimony is enough to convict Estrada and Enrile.

Members of the panel believe Tuason is a perfect witness and that she is eligible for the Witness Protection Program.

Sen. Miriam Santiago is convinced that Tuason’s testimony is sufficient to pin down the two senators beyond reasonable doubt.

“Her situation shows that she has nothing to gain by turning state witness except for being free from criminal liabilities,” Santiago told reporters.

She added that it doesn’t matter if Tuason failed to provide the amount of money she delivered to Estrada and Enrile, explaining that Tuason was just a “middlewoman” and it was not in her interest to record everything.

Santiago said with Tuason as witness, she sees no need to convince Napoles to testify against Enrile.

Senate majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano is also convinced that Tuason is a reliable and knowledgeable witness who could provide the needed information to strengthen the case.

“I can say that the testimony is damning because it came from an eyewitness,” Cayetano said.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, however, said Tuason’s testimony was not enough because she could not provide details such as the dates of the deliveries or the amount of cash that changed hands.

Trillanes said Tuason should know such details to be deemed an effective witness.

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7 Comments

  1. How about other senators and congressmen that she dealt with? It is impossible that she is dealing only with these two senators. That’s why some are doubting her testimony because of her selective memory. She must reveal all.

  2. Every warm blooded Filipinos must be united to urge the government to speed up the investigation, and select proven well tested prosecutors to handle the case to convict these scammers. When all are behind bars, the voters in 2016, must vote for a president that will less likely pardon them.

    • One glaring question not being asked is the supposed ledger this Luy keeps. I would like to think the ledger is not solely kept to account for monies allegedly given to Enrile, Estrada and Revilla!

      Has there any effort made to account and ask where all of these so called funds listed in the ledger gone to?

      It is very convenient for one to say without any proof that monies were handed to personalities and these supposed to be intelligent Senators and Lawyers easily fall for the testimonies. Mirriam tried to lawyer for Tuazon all too obvious because of her hate with Enrile. I wonder what would her demeanor be if she is still in good graces with Enrile?

  3. This is turning into an ugly political football. Enrille and Estrada are nothing but dirty low down politicians who are so addicted to power and money that they will fight this to the end to hang on to their sickness. They do not even have the decency to step down knowing that they are embroiled in a scandal of this magnitude. This is what is wrong with our society, they (Enrille and Estrada) know that if they hang in there long enough the people will get tired of it, a new administration comes along, and everything will be soon forgotten and they will again go about their evil ways.

  4. Ruby Tuazon is NOT considered an important witness. She will crumble during cross-examination. She’s trying to SAVE HER ASS. She realized she CAN’T HIDE FOREVER.
    She promised to return 40M. but she stole more than that. Don’t be fooled by her.
    It’s a very simplistic way of trying to avoid the consequences of her criminal act.
    By giving back a small portion of her loot she thinks she can get away with it;
    and appears she will be a hero by doing so. She is not at all credible to me.
    Miriam, Delima et all are all stupid enough to believe this woman.
    But I can’t blame them, their brain is very small to understand.

    • Tuazon says she only made the deals with Estrada on 2008. And she admits she did it for one year! I can’t recall how long she dealt with Reyes!

      If she implies she earned 40M which is the amount she is willing to return, that would mean around 800M worth of projects she brokered. Knowing a Senator only gets 200M every year nowadays, the 800M worth of PDAF is good for 4 senators a year. If she only brokered for 2 which is Estrada and Enrile, that would mean 2 years of work.

      The defense can do the math and compare it with her statements!

  5. With too much embezzlement, squandering, misused of billions public funds which only pocketed as kickback by some greedy politicians and cohorts. It’s about time that Aquino administration seriously ran after these individuals either opposition or Administration to avoid biases and finally set the tone of his crusade. If there is no corrupt then no poverty. Thanks to the courage of whistleblower who daunted task to elaborate their participation to consummate the transaction.