Trillanes sees ‘sabotage’ in testimony of Ruby Tuason
MANILA, Philippines—Is Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile running the so-called Ruby Tuason show?
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Sunday expressed fears of a possible “sabotage” in Tuason’s testimony, which he said nailed Sen. Jinggoy Estrada in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam but spared Enrile.
“That’s what I suspect,” Trillanes said in an interview on dzBB, alleging that Tuason was “almost defending” the 90-year-old Enrile during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Thursday.
Trillanes called attention to where Tuason would source the P40-million commission she had promised to return, in an effort to convince the government to accept her as a state witness.
The senator said he would produce “documents” showing the connection between Tuason’s lawyer, Dennis Manalo, and Enrile.
Manalo was earlier quoted as saying that he was no longer connected with the Siguion Reyna Montecillo & Ongsiako law firm, in which Enrile was a partner.
“So that’s it? It means he no longer has any connection? No. The connection is clear,” Trillanes said in Filipino. “And then the money, that P40-million (commission Tuason promised to return). I tell you. Check where that money will come from.”
“Who is she trying to protect? Isn’t it clear? You will now know … who provided her with a lawyer and the money. That’s my speculation,” he added.
In her Senate testimony, Tuason alleged that she delivered kickbacks from the pork barrel scheme of Janet Lim-Napoles to Estrada in 2004 and 2008. She said some deliveries were made in Estrada’s Senate office, an allegation he vehemently denied.
Tuason said she made deliveries to lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, Enrile’s chief of staff. But Tuason, a “provisional” state witness, stopped at Reyes, claiming that Enrile never discussed his pork barrel with her.
Trillanes dismissed as “worthless” the affidavit Tuason had submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, which he blamed on her lawyer Manalo.
“Attorney Dennis Manalo is a good lawyer but look at [Tuason’s] affidavit. It’s worthless. He knows that. That’s not how a good lawyer prepares an affidavit,” the senator argued.
“So if a good lawyer prepares that kind of document, you know that the intention really is to sabotage [the testimony].”
Unless Tuason tells all, the senator said she should not be made a state witness.
“To me, if she would provide little, [the government] might as well proceed with the case against her,” Trillanes said.
“The government is being shortchanged because by her own admission, she had a big role in this scandal, yet she is giving us very little in her testimony.”
Like Enrile, Estrada and Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Tuason is facing plunder charges in the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing millions in kickbacks in the alleged pork barrel scam. All three have denied wrongdoing.
Trillanes said the “drama” of Tuason’s execution of an affidavit and subsequent appearance in the Senate fell short.
“We were carried away by the drama without the necessary ingredients, so to speak,” he said. “There was too much buildup.”
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Sunday night stood by Tuason’s testimony. She said the former presidential social secretary might not be a “perfect witness” but that she didn’t think that Enrile was behind her surfacing and turning state witness.
Plausible and credible
She said in a text message that Tuason’s testimony was “plausible and credible.”
“It’s not fair to impute something sinister to Attorney Manalo’s involvement as Ruby Tuason’s lawyer on the basis of his purported professional link to Siguion Reyna law firm, whose senior partner was Senator Enrile’s brother-in-law,” she said.
De Lima said she understood Trillanes’ frustration in failing to draw a response to his liking to his question whether Tuason believed Enrile received kickbacks or was aware that these were being given to Reyes.
De Lima said the answer called for giving an opinion and that could at best be interpreted as hearsay evidence.
She said Enrile stated in his counteraffidavit that he had authorized Reyes and his deputy chief of staff Jose Antonio Evangelista to handle his Priority Development Assistance Fund projects and that was why it was “not unusual” that Tuason had only dealt with his aides.
“But then again, as Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has postulated, Senator Enrile’s presence in at least two occasions when Tuason and Reyes met for delivery of kickbacks established a good case against Senator Enrile as very much part of the conspiracy,” De Lima said.
Originally posted: 9:23 pm | Sunday, February 16th, 2014
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