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No choice for Ruby Tuason but to testify, says lawyer

/ 04:05 AM June 16, 2015

The lawyer who helped expose the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam said Monday whistle-blower Ruby Tuason had no choice but to testify in the plunder cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.

Lawyer Levito Baligod said that while Tuason, a former Malacañang social secretary, had been granted immunity from suit in connection with the alleged diversion of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects, her plea for the same protection in the P900-million Malampaya Fund scam had not yet been granted.

Baligod said the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman purposely did not include the Malampaya Fund case in the coverage of Tuason’s immunity from suit to make sure that she would not renege on her commitment to spill the beans on Enrile and Estrada in the PDAF, or pork barrel, cases.

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“We discussed this as part of our strategy. I believe that Tuason will deliver because she is facing a bigger liability in the Malampaya scam,” he said in a phone interview.

Baligod was the first counsel of Benhur Luy, finance officer of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, said to be the brains behind the alleged channeling of PDAF allocations to fake foundations.

Luy’s revelations started the chain of investigations that led to the filing of plunder cases involving the alleged misuse of the PDAF and Malampaya Fund.

In October 2013, the DOJ filed plunder cases against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and 19 others in connection with the diversion of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund meant for victims of back-to-back typhoons in 2009 to Napoles’ fake nongovernment organizations.

Tuason, a Napoles agent, has been charged with accepting P242.775 million from the Malampaya Fund “for an unknown principal.”

In her affidavit, Tuason claimed that Jess Santos, lawyer of Jose Miguel Arroyo, spouse of former President Arroyo, went to the house of her late brother allegedly to collect his commission in the Malampaya scam.

But since filing the Malampaya case 20 months ago, the DOJ has not pursued the case with the Ombudsman.

Estrada, who has denied wrongdoing, has claimed that Tuason used her kickbacks from the Malampaya scam to build her P200-million mansion in Dasmariñas Village in Makati City.

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TAGS: Immunity, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, Levito Baligod, Malampaya fund, PDAF, plunder case, pork barrel scam, Ruby Tuason
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