Jinggoy Estrada unfazed by Ruby Tuason’s testimony
Who’s afraid of Ruby Tuason?
“Not me,” according to detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who expressed confidence that the testimony of the former social secretary of his father, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, would only bolster his defense in the plunder and graft charges against him in the Sandiganbayan.
Estrada yesterday said he was actually looking forward to Tuason’s much-awaited attendance in his weekly bail hearing at the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division on Monday.
In fact, he said he had repeatedly challenged the prosecution to bring Tuason to the witness stand even during the initial stages of his bail petition and forego its earlier plan to present other witnesses which, he said, only prolonged the resolution of his plea for temporary liberty.
“I’m actually excited (to see Tuason),” Estrada said in a statement. “As I have repeatedly stated, I did not receive any money from Ruby Tuason as part of my alleged kickbacks.”
Estrada and his lawyers had chided prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman for their supposed arbitrariness in delaying his bail hearing by presenting “weak” witnesses who only provided “hearsay testimonies.”
They also demanded the immediate presentation to the witness stand of Tuason when the proceedings started nearly a year ago.
A senior government official told the Inquirer that Tuason’s testimony against Estrada had to be moved several times as the prosecution “failed to locate her.”
“There were instances when Ruby Tuason flew abroad without informing the Ombudsman. Although she’s not barred from leaving the country, she should at least notify the prosecution of her whereabouts,” said the source, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“But we don’t take it against Tuason. I don’t think there’s any indication that she would renege on her earlier promise to tell the truth about the pork barrel scam and testify against Estrada and (Sen. Juan Ponce) Enrile,” the source added.
Tuason had told a Senate investigation that she had personally delivered Estrada’s shares from the diversion of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), more popularly known as pork barrel, to the bogus foundations of suspected fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Estrada, who described Tuason as a close family friend, vehemently denied the allegations, saying the socialite had only brought him food to his office in the Senate.
In an earlier interview, Estrada said Tuason had a lot of explaining to do after she turned over to the government P40 million in exchange for immunity from charges stemming from her involvement in the P10-billion PDAF mess.
She claimed the money was the total amount she received as commissions from the Napoles projects funded by the pork barrel of Estrada and Enrile.
But Estrada said the amount was just “loose change” compared to what she had purportedly earned from the misuse of P900 million in royalties from the Malampaya gas project.
In one of his testimonies, primary whistle-blower Benhur Luy told the Sandiganbayan that Tuason, who was charged for allegedly pocketing P242.8 million from the Malampaya fund scam, had indeed received kickbacks from the anomalous transactions financed by the government’s shares from the Malampaya project.
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