Jinggoy Estrada dares Tuason to prove allegations
MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Jinggoy Estrada challenged Ruby Tuason, a longtime family friend and former social secretary of his father, to prove that she gave him millions of pesos in kickbacks from the diversion of billions of pesos from lawmakers’ pork barrel funds to bogus non-governmental organizations or non-existent projects.
Estrada made the comment Friday afternoon after Justice Secretary Leila De Lima narrated to the media the highlights of Tuason’s affidavit which she said strengthened the evidence against Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
Repeated requests for Enrile’s comment on Tuason’s affidavit were left unanswered as of late Wednesday afternoon.
Estrada said he felt betrayed that a longtime family friend could do this to him.
“I am quite sad that she came out into the open without any basis at our expense, just to save her own skin…. She will surprise everyone and fabricate stories. That’s not right,” Estrada told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
Estrada said that if Tuason received money from alleged pork barrel scam engineer Janet Lim Napoles, none of it went to his pocket; it all went into hers.
“She admitted getting money. She said she gave it to me in the Senate. My goodness! How can she give it to me in the Senate? She passed through [the basement] parking?” Estrada said. “The only reason why she wanted to be met by my driver, my security guard at the basement parking was because she was bringing food.”
Estrada denied having Tuason on his staff or authorizing her to deal with Napoles on his behalf with respect to the disbursement of his allotment from the Senate’s Priority Development Assistance Fund.
“I never authorized anybody for that matter to deal with Napoles,” Estrada said
Estrada, nonetheless, acknowledged that Tuason’s brother, Ralph Chan, was a consultant of his.
“She asked me to hire him,” Estrada said.
Estrada said it was actress Lorna Tolentino who introduced him to Napoles, not Tuason as the latter claims.
“I didn’t know Napoles in 2004 (when Tuason supposedly introduced them). I only knew Napoles in 2008… through Lorna Tolentino during the wake for Rudy Fernandez (Tolentino’s husband),” Estrada said.
“Lorna is a living witness. You can ask her,” Estrada added.
Estrada cited two factors that could have led Tuason to testify against him and directly implicate him in the multi-billion-peso scam. One was that he refused to give her money when she asked for some after she had gone to the United States to escape the controversy.
“I once called her in October. I already knew then that she had already left…. I was asking her how she was. And then, towards the end of the conversation, she was already asking money from me,” Estrada said.
“I told her, ‘What will I give you? Both of us are facing charges.’ That’s why she got upset with me,” Estrada added.
Estrada added that Tuason must have also succumbed to the pressure from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Ombudsman, who allegedly followed and talked to her in the US.
Estrada claimed Tuason had many questionable transactions that made it easy for government investigators to make her talk. “And when they came back, it’s all ironed out. She’s already in the witness protection program,” Estrada said.
Estrada said there was a “sinister” plan to make sure he, Enrile and Sen. Ramon Revilla, Jr. went down.
“The way I see it, the case against us must be so weak—because it’s all based on hearsay—that they got a witness who’s willing to testify against us just to save her neck at our expense,” Estrada said.
Told that Tuason had promised to tell all she knew to strengthen the government’s case against those charged in the Office of the Ombudsman, Estrada said, “She should have to prove that she gave me money in the Senate and that she gave me money at my residence.”
Evidence supplied by whistleblowers led by former Napoles aide Benhur Luy led to the filing of plunder charges against Estrada, Enrile, Revilla and dozens of other persons, including members of the House of Representatives and go vernment officials.
All three senators have denied any wrongdoing.
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