Tuason loses cool at Jinggoy’s lawyer during cross-examination
PORK barrel scam whistleblower Ruby Tuason lost her cool during her testimony on Monday against detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.
During her cross-examination by Estrada’s lawyer on Monday at the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division, Tuason blew her top as Atty. Sabino Acut Jr. barraged her with questions over her 89 bank accounts.
Acut had shown to the court a list of Tuason’s 89 bank accounts furnished them by the Anti-Money Laundering Council in their request for bank documents.
But Acut’s style as a lawyer was to point his fingers to stress a point. This irked the feisty Tuason, who kept on rolling her eyes to Estrada’s lawyer during her testimony.
“Don’t do that to me!” Tuason exclaimed while also pointing her index finger at Acut.
“I’m not just any witness! It’s very impolite. I am trying to respect you,” Tuason said, irritated by Acut’s mannerism of pointing fingers.
This was not the first time Acut countered Tuason. Acut had asked the court last Monday to admonish Tuason for having an “air of arrogance” and for refusing to call him as “sir.”
During Monday’s hearing, Tuason was visibly hostile toward Acut. When addressing Estrada’s lawyer, she kept on faltering before adding “sir” in a sarcastic tone. The witness also kept on rolling her eyes when asked by Acut.
In an interview after the hearing, Estrada blasted Tuason for being arrogant in the witness stand.
“Ang problema niya, she’s so arrogant, hindi naman niya kayang panindigan ang kanyang mga sinasabi. Biruin mo, pati ang mga abogado ko, kinukuwestyon niya, ang mga gestures ng mga abogado ko. Sino ba siya? Ang sabi niya (Tuason), ‘Huwag mo akong gaganyanin! Hindi naman ako basta-basta!’ She’s so arrogant! Who do you think she is?” Estrada said, fuming.
Estrada said Tuason’s list of bank accounts was proof that she had enough cash to pay the P40 million kickbacks she owed to government, contrary to her claim that she had to sell her house to return the money.
Estrada also said the 89 bank accounts were used to stow away Tuason’s kickbacks from the pork barrel scam and the Malampaya fund scam.
“(It shows that) she has a lot of money… Hindi na niya kailangan magbenta ng properties para mabayaran ang gobyerno. P40 million is small compared to what she got from the Malampaya scam,” Estrada said.
The social secretary of Jinggoy’s father former President Joseph Estrada, Tuason had admitted before a Senate hearing that she delivered bags of money to the Senate office of Estrada, who is now detained for plunder over the alleged diversion of his PDAF to ghost projects for kickbacks through accused mastermind Janet Lim Napoles’ bogus foundations.
She also admitted before the Sandiganbayan that she served as Estrada’s agent in 2004 and in 2008 and that she had received a 5 percent and 10 percent commissions from Estrada’s pork barrel projects, respectively.
She had returned to government her kickbacks amounting to at least P40 million as a condition for her to become state witness and thus immune from suit.
But her immunity does not save her from prosecution over another corruption scandal, the alleged Malampaya fund scam, where farmer storm victims were deprived of P900 million in assistance from energy funds after all these funds were purportedly pilfered through Napoles’ bogus foundations.
Napoles had claimed that Tuason has shown her a list of government funds amounting to P25 billion, and recommended that the P900 million Malampaya fund be coursed through the Department of Agrarian Reform to rake in kickbacks.
Tuason is among the respondents in Malampaya fund scam complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman. Other respondents charged with plunder are Napoles, former President Gloria Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Budget secretary Rolando Andaya and his undersecretary Rafael Nieto, former DAR secretary Nasser Pangandaman, DAR finance officer Teresita Panlilio, and Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos.
Arroyo was implicated by virtue of an Executive Order she issued authorizing the release of the said energy funds into aid for storm victims.
Tuason, meanwhile, was implicated as receiving P242.775 million from Malampaya but for a still unknown recipient.
The charges over the pork barrel scam have resulted in the detention for plunder of Estrada and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, as well as of former representatives Rizalina Seachon Lanete and Edgar Valdez.
Accused mastermind Napoles is also detained for plunder. She was sentenced to life in prison for the serious illegal detention of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.