Sen. Jinggoy Estrada was right about his fears that he would be depicted as a demon or villain at Ms. Ruby Tuason appears before the Senate blue-ribbon committee hearing.
For the first time, a witness (Tuason) testified that she had personally delivered pork barrel commissions or kickbacks to a senator. Unfortunately for Senator Jinggoy, he was the one referred to by Tuason. As pointed out by Sen. TG Guingona, blue ribbon chair, previous testimonies had mentioned the delivery of kickbacks only to chiefs of staff of senators.
Unfortunately too for Senator Jinggoy, Tuason couldn’t remember the dates when she went to the Senate to deliver to him his alleged 40-percent kickback from his pork-funded projects. He had asked the Senate to produce the CCTV tapes on the supposed delivery dates. Without the dates, the Senate would be hard put producing the CCTV tapes he had requested. She also couldn’t say how much money was in the bags that she claimed to have delivered to him. It was only after much prodding from Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th that she mentioned “P8 to P10 million.”
It’s also the misfortune of Senator Jinggoy that nobody really grilled Ms. Tuason over her claims. All that Guingona did was echo the questions asked of her in her sworn affidavit. After Tuason repeated everything that she had said in her affidavit, Guingona gushed that her testimony was “three-point shot na buzzer beater na, winning shot pa!” When I heard him say that, I couldn’t help but feel that Senator Jinggoy’s goose was cooked.
Not even Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago would ask Ms. Tuason difficult questions. The searching questions she was known to ask key witnesses were nowhere to be found in the hearing last Thursday. Why, she even praised her as a “perfect witness.”
Was the omission of the dates and amounts enough reason to question her testimony? Senator Miriam doesn’t think so. She argues that Ms. Tuason wasn’t a record keeper, unlike whistleblower Benhur Luy.
“She’s just a gofer. She’s not interested in accounting. It’s but natural that she couldn’t remember some things. It’s when she remembers every detail that we should become suspicious. That’s a sign that she has been rehearsed,” she said.
Indeed, Ms. Tuason couldn’t remember some details, such that she had to consult with Luy and his documents for the needed information.
There are many things going for her. She was already outside the reach of Philippine authorities and yet she returned to testify on what she knew. She had also volunteered to return the P40 million she had received as commission for acting as, in the words of Senator Miriam, “gofer” in the pork barrel scam.
She turned emotional when Sen. Sonny Angara asked her how she would feel if she wouldn’t be granted immunity despite testifying against her co-accused in the plunder case. She said that in such a case and she would be jailed, she’d rather die.
I consider this statement rather baffling when viewed against her earlier statement that she had agreed to testify because her conscience was bothering her, especially after “Yolanda” devastated Tacloban. If she’s really bothered by her conscience, then she must be willing to accept all consequences of what she had done, including being jailed.
As a non-lawyer, I can’t say if her testimony is indeed a “slam dunk” as described by Justice Sec. Leila de Lima. Incidentally, a former Senate official told me that a US official once used the term “slam dunk” and got burnt. He was referring to George Tenet, chief of the Central Intelligence Agency under President George W. Bush.
“He (Tenet) produced so called ‘slam dunk’ evidence that there were lots of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Thus America and allies invaded Iraq. It turned out the evidence was flawed. No WMD was found and many American lives were lost. To the present Iraq is a big mess. Tenet resigned because of slam dunk,” the official, who requested anonymity, told me in an email.
There was another email from Mikko Guioguio of UP Manila saying that another basketball term that could be used in the “pork” scam is “luto,” meaning a fixed or rigged game “especially considering one of today’s front page stories (DOJ helped Tuason Fabricate Story—Jinggoy) where the senator pointed out parts of the affidavit that seemed way too specific.”
Guioguio also said he supports PNoy’s stance on the Spratly issue but added that PNoy erred in comparing China to Nazi Germany. He cited Godwin’s Law which states that anybody who resorts to name-calling effectively forfeits the discussion despite the merits of the case.