Estrada says Ruby Tuason brought him hot food, not cold cash
MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Thursday said he missed Ruby Tuason, the longtime family friend who had directly linked him to the Janet Lim-Napoles pork barrel scam by testifying she delivered millions of pesos in kickbacks to him in his Senate office and his residence in San Juan City.
“Nobody brings snacks anymore,” Estrada said after Tuason nailed him down in her testimony before the Senate blue ribbon committee looking into the alleged P10-billion pork racket.
Estrada said the reason why he asked members of his staff to meet Tuason at the basement parking area of the Senate was because of the amount of food she brought to the office.
“She brings two trays of sandwiches,” Estrada told reporters.
Aside from denying Tuason’s charge that she delivered kickback money to him, Estrada cast doubts on her testimony by citing how she had to confer with whistle-blower Benhur Luy when pressed for certain details.
“It is quite obvious from Mrs. Tuason’s body language and her replies from the questions propounded on her as well as the information shared with the committee that she had no recollection of events on her own,” Estrada said in a prepared statement.
Estrada said that as seen on live television, “she has to confer with Benhur Luy and constantly referred to her affidavit and other papers to answer the questions from the senators.”
“If she is really telling the truth, why can’t she recall such instances from her own memory and not rely from written statement? Mrs. Tuason is merely being fed all these information,” Estrada said.
Estrada said he was allowing to testify in the hearing the members of his staff that Tuason identified as those who met her at the basement parking area to assist her in bringing the supposed money bags to his office.
“Two of the members of my staff were mentioned during the hearing. I have said in my previous interviews that I send either my driver or my security to assist Mrs. Tuason in bringing the snacks to my office,” Estrada said.
“Let me stress that no money or kickback was ever delivered to me by Mrs. Tuason in my residence or in my Senate office or in any other venue and at any time,” he added.
Estrada said Tuason was making up stories to escape prison.
“I sympathize with her when she said that she’d rather die than go to jail. Undoubtedly a person that desperate will say anything and do everything to avoid going to jail, which to her is worse than death,” Estrada said.
Estrada had choice words for Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, who described Tuason’s testimony as a buzzer-beating and game-winning three-point shot.
“Now, as to how the way today’s hearing went, all I can say is his handling of the hearing in the PDAF scam may be considered an offensive foul because he assessed and accepted Mrs. Tuason’s testimony even without any other basis other than the word of Mrs. Tuason,” Estrada said.
“He nudged his fellow senator just so he could shoot or earn points in an early politicking,” Estrada added.
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who’s turning 90 today, had no comment on Tuason’s testimony.
Tuason said she delivered commissions to Enrile’s chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, after they allegedly channeled the senator’s pork barrel allocations to ghost projects of Napoles’ fake NGOs.
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