Ruby Tuason: I fled because I was afraid
Socialite Ruby Tuason yesterday admitted that it was the “Million People March” of antipork barrel protesters in August 2013 that prompted her to flee the country and seek refuge in the United States.
Testifying at the bail hearing for businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles at the Sandiganbayan Third Division, Tuason disclosed that it was her late husband,
Carlos “Butch” Tuason, who first acted as a middleman of detained Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile for the pork barrel funds that the senator allegedly funneled to the Napoles-controlled foundations.
She also reiterated the previous testimony she gave during the bail hearing of detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada at the antigraft court’s Fifth Division.
According to Tuason, she met Enrile and his former chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, at the events that she had organized in Malacañang when she was still the social secretary of deposed President, now Manila Mayor, Joseph Estrada.
In the direct examination handled by state prosecutor Hazel Valdez, Tuason claimed that she did not know that the projects implemented by Napoles, the suspected mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, involved “ghost” deliveries of livelihood kits and other items.
“I was flabbergasted because I didn’t know there were ghost deliveries. I only learned about it when I watched the news (while I was in the United States),” she said.
Tuason said she collected and delivered Enrile’s kickbacks from the projects of the Napoles foundations and nongovernment organizations funded from Enrile’s pork barrel allocations from 2004 until 2009.
When Valdez asked Tuason where she was in August 2013 and what she was doing at the time, she replied: “I fled to the United States because I was afraid.”
“I remember that there was the ‘Million People March’ that day. I got so scared and I didn’t know what to do,” Tuason said, referring to the mass action held in Luneta Park in Manila on Aug. 26, 2013, which was initiated by social media users.
‘Gigi was a friend’
Tuason said she decided to return to the country in early 2014 after she “prayed for discernment.”
“I decided to tell the truth [although] it hurt me because Gigi was a good friend,” she said.
Tuason said her commissions amounted to as much as 10 percent of the total cost of the projects funded by Enrile’s pork barrel, officially known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund.
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