Court scolds Jinggoy for laughing at Ruby Tuason’s testimony
DETAINED Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada was scolded for laughing at Ruby Tuason’s testimony that she returned to government at least P40 million in kickbacks from the alleged pork barrel scam.
During his bail hearing on plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division, prosecutor Hazel Decena Valdez asked state witness Tuason for the reason why she returned the money.
“For my peace of mind,” Tuason simply said.
Estrada scoffed at Tuason’s statement.
Decena asked the court to admonish the members of the audience who laughed at Tuason’s testimony.
“We heard laughing from behind. May we request that they be admonished and be advised to show proper decorum,” Valdez said.
When Estrada’s lawyers asked who she was referring to, Valdez said she heard laughter from her right side of the audience where Estrada was seated.
Estrada immediately fell silent after Fifth Division chair Associate Justice Roland Jurado said: “The public is hereby ordered not to make any noise or unnecessary sound otherwise the court will send you out!”
After the hearing, Estrada admitted that he may have been the one referred to by the prosecutor as laughing at Tuason’s testimony.
When asked why he laughed, Estrada said: “That’s B.S. (bullsh*t).”
Jurado also expressed frustration that Estrada’s plunder case may go beyond the 2016 elections, after the prosecutors told the court that it would field six more witnesses from the banks investigated by the Anti-Money Laundering Council in its report that bared Estrada’s banking activities involving millions of deposits through his alleged fronts Francis Yenko and Juan Ng.
“We will not finish this case even after the elections. I noticed it takes one month for every witness, so that’s another six months!” Jurado said.
The social secretary of Jinggoy’s father former President Joseph Estrada, Tuason had admitted before a Senate hearing that she delivered bags of kickbacks to the Senate office of Estrada, who is detained for plunder over the alleged diversion of his PDAF to ghost projects for kickbacks through Napoles’ bogus foundations.
She also admitted before the Sandiganbayan that she served as Estrada’s agent in 2004 and in 2008 and that she had received a 5-percent and 10 percent commissions from Estrada’s pork barrel projects, respectively.
She had returned to government her kickbacks amounting to at least P40 million as a condition for her to become state witness and thus immune from suit.
But her immunity does not save her from prosecution over another corruption scandal, the alleged Malampaya fund scam, where farmer storm victims were deprived of P900 million in assistance from energy funds after all these funds were purportedly pilfered through Napoles’ bogus foundations.
Napoles had tagged Tuason as showing her a list of government funds amounting to P25 billion, and recommending the P900-million Malampaya fund to be coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform for kickbacks.
Tuason is part of the Malampaya fund scam complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman that charged Napoles, former President Gloria Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Budget secretary Rolando Andaya and his undersecretary Rafael Nieto, former DAR secretary Nasser Pangandaman, DAR finance officer Teresita Panlilio, and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos with plunder.
Arroyo was implicated by virtue of an Executive Order she issued authorizing the release of the said energy funds into aid for storm victims.
Tuason, meanwhile, was implicated as receiving P242.775 million from Malampaya but for a still unknown recipient.
The charges over the pork barrel scam have resulted in the detention for plunder of Estrada and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, as well as of former representatives Rizalina Seachon Lanete and Edgar Valdez.
Accused mastermind Napoles is also detained for plunder. She was sentenced to life in prison for the serious illegal detention of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.