MANILA – The lawyer of provisional state witness Ruby Tuason on Thursday said she already had access to some P84 million in 2008 – a year before the so-called "Malampaya mansion" in Dasmarinas was bought.
Atty. Dennis Manalo told ANC Prime Time said that if enough research on Tuason's legitimate sources of income are done, it would show that her family received a hefty amount from insurance money arising from the death of her late husband in July 2008.
"She received approximately USD1,005,225.74 in one policy, and another USD752,958.90 from another policy, coming from the same insurance company, the Great Southern Insurance Co. in the USA. It was paid as soon as he died, and this was a year before the property in Dasmarinas was acquired," Manalo explained.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, in his privilege speech on Wednesday, claimed that Tuason's mansion at 1510 Carissa Street, Dasmarinas Village in Makati City was worth P45 million when she first purchased it in 2009. He called it the "Malampaya mansion" because it was allegedly bought from "her Malampaya fund kickbacks worth P242 million."
"Now what Senator Jinggoy was saying is that where would she get the money to buy this property? Well, this is it, and it’s not from Malampaya," Manalo said.
Manalo said that Tuason's assets are around P120 million, which she has on hand.
Manalo said Tuason is not comfortable that that her property in Dasmarinas where her family lives has been tagged by Estrada as "Malampaya mansion."
He said the Malampaya scam happened in December 2009 up to January 2010, based on the testimony of Benhur Luy.
“The house in Dasmarinas was acquired in July 2009, a lot earlier than that, so to claim that the house was bought using Malampaya funds, that is not accurate,” he said.
Manalo also said Tuason is not aware of other properties by Estrada.
“This property in Alabang, Mrs. Tuason does not know this. This property in Valle Verde, she doesn’t know this. This property in Nevada, she’s never heard of it,” Manalo said.
Manalo said Tuason has other properties both in her name and in the name of her children, but all of these were acquired through legitimate sources and means.
'Out of friendship'
"Her only illegitimate source of income is the one that she claimed to have received arising from the PDAF scam," he said.
Asked why Tuason got involved in the pork barrel scam considering the amount of money she already had, Manalo said it was because of friendship.
"What drove her to do this was not really the financial gain that she would derive. She said she did it out of friendship. She made a mistake, she regretted it that she allowed friendship to rule over her capacity to make a right decision," he said.
This mistake, he said, was what prompted Tuason to make atonement.
“That’s the reason why she prepared a statement, went back to the Philippines and offered to return a specific amount of money based on the figures that Mr. Benhur Luy himself used to prove the amounts delivered to the senators,” he said.
Manalo said that they were not at all surprised with Estrada's attempt to discredit Tuason.
"You have to understand that when we were preparing Mrs. Tuason and showing her the possibilities of what she would probably be confronted with, one of the items was her assets. We have prepared for this early on. When we were preparing her testimony in San Francisco, we have cautioned Mrs. Tuason that when we do this, you have to expect that the characters involved in this tragedy will even try to destroy tour name, you and your family," Manalo said.
Despite knowing that she will become a target after coming out in the open, Tuason was still hurt by Estrada's allegations, Manalo said.
"Seeing that Sen. Jinggoy is doing this to her, knowing that once upon a time she was close to the Estrada family. Be that as it may, she advised us 'let’s just stick to the facts,'" he said.
Tuason also wants to clarify that all expenses for her overseas trips were financed through her own funds, said Manalo.
“The DOJ did not fund her trips. All her tickets were purchased using her personal funds. So she’s a little bit embarrassed that the DOJ and the head of that agency is being put in a situation where it seems that her decision to finance for the trips is being questioned. I don’t think there is a basis for that because Mrs Tuason was definitive in stating that she paid for her tickets,” he said.