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Tuason is shielding Enrile, says Trillanes

/ 08:12 PM February 14, 2014

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Although it was described by the committee chairman as a “three-point shot,” Ruby Tuason’s testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday fell short of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s expectations.

A day after grilling the confessed former courier of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, Trillanes said he was convinced of Tuason’s credibility in testifying against senators implicated in the racket but indicated he believed she wasn’t telling the whole truth.

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Trillanes noted that Tuason pinned down Sen. Jinggoy Estrada when she said she repeatedly delivered to him millions of pesos in kickback from Napoles but pulled her punches when the questions came to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s alleged commissions.

Trillanes is in bad terms with Enrile.

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“I’m convinced but it’s still lacking as far as Ruby Tuason is concerned,” Trillanes said in a radio interview. “But the case appears to be already complete.”

Trillanes warned that Tuason’s lack of details could be exploited by defense lawyers if the plunder charges against the senators implicated in the pork barrel scam each the Sandiganbayan graft court.

During the turn of Sen. Teofisto Guingona to ask questions, “she wasn’t sure of anything at all,” Trillanes said.

For instance, Tuason could not say exactly how much money she delivered to Estrada and admitted not knowing the name of the street in Greenhills where he lived.

“What would be difficult is when she’s already in court, being grilled by the defense lawyers and in the end her testimony would be invalidated because it has no value,” Trillanes said.

Tuason was one of those charged with plunder in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Her testimony is now being evaluated by the Ombudsman after she was presented by the Department of Justice as a “provisional” state’s witness.

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Trillanes said he came to Thursday’s hearing expecting Tuason would tell all she knew, including specifics of her cash deliveries to Estrada and Enrile’s former chief of staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila Reyes.

“When the hearing started, a problem came about.  Her testimony was a bit short on details.  That was why I asked probing questions when it was my turn,” Trillanes said.

“She was rather clear in the part about Senator Jinggoy Estrada.  When it came to the part about Senator Enrile, it seemed like suddenly she became forgetful. It was as if she wasn’t interested,” he added.

As in her sworn statement submitted to the Department of Justice, Tuason testified that she delivered kickbacks from Enrile’s priority development assistance fund to Reyes.

The witness wouldn’t directly link Enrile to the scam in which millions of pesos in Enrile’s pork barrel allotment had supposedly been diverted to Napoles’ fake non-governmental organizations and their ghost projects.

“I can only presume,” was all Tuason could tell Trillanes when the senator asked her if she believed Enrile knew about the commissions she was delivering to Reyes from Napoles.

Trillanes expressed doubt that Tuason did not inform Enrile about her cash deliveries of his kickback from the projects that were supposed to have been funded by his pork barrel allotment.

“What if he confronts her that she didn’t give the money [to Reyes]?” Trillanes said.

Tuason said in her affidavit and during Thurtsday’s hearing that Enrile would occasionally drop by for coffee when she and Reyes were about to wrap up their meetings during which she would deliver money at restaurants in Makati and Taguig.

Does he see a scheme designed to spare Enrile from any criminal liability? “That was pretty obvious yesterday (Thursday),” Trillanes said.

“It’s now to each his own.  Each one is left to his own devices.  In this case, it’s unfortunate for Senator Jinggoy Estrada.  It appears that he’s now being dropped,” he added.

Trillanes said he was  verifying information that Tuason’s lawyer was once a member of Enrile’s law firm.

Enrile and Estrada are political allies in the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino founded by Estrada’s father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.

Estrada considers Enrile a mentor.

Trillanes said Tuason paled in comparison to whistleblower Benhur Luy.

“He didn’t disappoint.  He had details,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes said Tuason should have strained to remember the particulars of her transactions with Napoles, Estrada and Reyes as early as when she was still in the US planning to turn state witness in the case.

Instead, “we’d be sprayed with a few details and then she’d say she’s already advanced in age and couldn’t remember.  I really doubt that alibi,” Triillanes said.

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TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, Juan Ponce Enrile, News, pork barrel scam, Ruby Tuason, Senate probe
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