Mike Arroyo’s former lawyer linked to pork barrel scam
MANILA, Philippines—A former lawyer and spokesperson of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband has been linked to the P900 million Malampaya fund scam.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, reading from the affidavit of Ruby Tuason, said on Friday that she (Tuason) personally witnessed the delivery of kickbacks from the Malampaya funds to her sibling’s house.
“Ang paghahatid ng pera nawi-witness daw niya [Tuason] iyon at may sinabi syang pangalan na syang kumukuha ng pera sa bahay nila, Jess Santos. You all know who Jess Santos is,” De Lima said.
(She [Tuason] said she had witnessed the delivery of kickbacks and she mentioned a name who got the money from their house. That’s Jess Santos.)
Tuason is one of those facing a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the Malampaya fund scam. She allegedly received P242.775 million received through a bank for still unidentified principal.
De Lima said they will conduct an investigation on Tuason’s disclosure
“This is a very important development because before we are not sure who is the undisclosed principal. But with this, Mrs. Tuason already mentioned a name, then we will pursue this,” De Lima said at a press conference.
Santos adamantly denied Friday he was the bagman for an unidentified principal to whom Tuason claims she was giving kickbacks for releases from the Malampaya fund.
In a telephone interview, Santos told the Inquirer that he did not know and never met Tuason.
Although he recalled having met a “Ruby Tuason” who was peddling him guns 20 years ago, he was not sure if this was the same person as her accuser.
Tuason’s family owns Arms Corporation of the Philippines (ARMsCor), a major supplier of firearms and ammunition.
Santos said he did not even know Tuason’s deceased husband, Butch Tuason, a first cousin of his client Mike Arroyo.
“The mother of FG (first gentleman) is a Tuason but I do not know them,” said Santos. “So how can I know where her home is when I never knew who she is. I never even knew that there was a Malampaya fund; I only read about it in the papers.”
Santos said he has stopped lawyering for Arroyo although he admitted visiting him at the latter’s LTA Building in Makati City and visiting the former president at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center.
He said he would take legal action after getting a copy of Tuason’s affidavit implicating him in the pork barrel scam.
While media have identified Tuason as an aide to former President Joseph Estrada, Tuason was more influential during the Arroyo administration due to her husband’s blood ties to Malacañang.
A source said Tuason was a major fund raiser for the then president’s senatorial ticket “Team Unity” in the 2007 mid-term elections. The source said Tuason was also directly responsible for the team’s logistical and advertising requirements.
Tuason’s lawyer, Dennis Manalo, said that his client corroborated the evidence provided by whistleblowers in the pork barrel scam, including the personalities and money involved. Manalo said Tuason would name more personalities aside from those already implicated.
In her brief talk with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima shortly after submitting her affidavit, Tuason said it was her conscience that drove her to come forward and disclose everything she knew about the pork barrel scam. She said her decision to come forward and tell all was difficult because the people involved were close to her.
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