De Lima: Slam dunk evidence from Tuason

By David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 07 2014 05:14 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2014 01:15 AM

Tuason introduced Napoles to Enrile, Jinggoy

She got 1.5% referral fee for every Napoles deal

MANILA (2ND UPDATE) - Ruby Tuason, a former social secretary of ex-president Joseph Estrada, provided the vital link that allowed alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to work with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuason confirmed in her sworn affidavit that she introduced Napoles to Senators Enrile and Estrada sometime in 2004.

"Siya daw po ang nagpakilala kay Janet Lim Napoles sa kanila [Enrile, Estrada]. It is in the year 2004. Parehong taon. Pinakilala niya si Napoles kay Jinggoy tapos pinakilala niya si Napoles kay Senator Juan Ponce Enrile at ang kanyang chief of staff, kasi si Mrs. Napoles ang nakiusapa na i-link siya sa kanila [Enrile, Estrada]," de Lima told reporters.

"Si Jinggoy nga, ayaw makipagkita kay Mrs. Napoles pero pinasabihan daw po si Senator Estrada ni Mrs. Napoles na bibigyan si Senator Jinggoy ng 40% less witholding tax of 5% for every business handled by Mrs. Napoles," she added.

De Lima said Tuason also confirmed receiving the commissions for Enrile and Estrada and sometimes delivering the kickbacks personally to the two senators.

"It was cash. Sometimes, she delivered to Jinggoy in the Senate. She sometimes passes the Senate parking so that the money would not be checked," she added.

The justice chief said Tuason admitted earning a 1.5% "referral fee" for every deal that Napoles got.

She said Tuason's statements corroborates the earlier testimony of pork scam whistle-blowers that some lawmakers benefited from their dealings with Mrs. Napoles.

"This is the first time that someone admitted personally giving the money to the lawmakers. This is slam dunk evidence," she added.

Tuason, who returned to the Philippines from the United States early morning on Friday, is now provisionally under the DOJ's Witness Protection Program (WPP).

She is one of several individuals accused of participating in the Napoles scam, which allegedly saw P10 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) pass through fake Napoles NGOs. In the complaint, Tuason is identified as a representative for Enrile and Estrada.

A Commission on Audit report earlier said Enrile, Estrada and Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. funneled P1.23 billion of their pork barrel funds to Napoles NGOs from 2007 to 2009.

Revilla gave P422.99 million in PDAF to Napoles NGOs, Enrile gave P407.39 million, and Estrada gave P396.25 million.

'ENOUGH REASON TO SILENCE HER'


Atty. Dennis Manalo, Tuason's lawyer, earlier said his client is willing to turn state witness and testify in both the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scams in exchange for immunity.

He said Tuason is also ready to return all the money she got from the pork barrel and Malampaya fund transactions. Tuason is accused of pocketing P242.775 million in kickbacks received through bank withdrawals for a still unidentified principal.

Although he refused to comment on the implication of the sworn statement to the case, Manalo said his client would not have been admitted to the WPP if her knowledge on the scam was immaterial.

"She has been admitted to the WPP of the DOJ and it is the DOJ that was the lead agency that filed these cases in the first place. I would think that the DOJ would not sabotage its own case," he said.

Atty. Levito Baligod, a lawyer of the pork scam whistleblowers, earlier welcomed Tuason's decision to turn state witness, saying the former Estrada aide's story corroborates the testimonies of the pork scam whistle-blowers.

"Hindi lamang po sinusuportahan ang mga salaysay ng mga whistle-blowers kundi nagbigay pa siya ng karagdagang impormasyon patungkol po yan sa disposition ng mga kickbacks na natanggap niya bilang isang conduit ng ilang legislators," he said in a radio DZMM interview.

"Siya po ang derechong kausap ni Mrs. Napoles tungkol sa PDAF ni Senator Juan Ponce Enrile atsaka yung chief of staff niya na si Atty. Gigi Reyes at yung PDAF din ni Senator Jinggoy Estrada. Yun ang naging alegasyon ng mag whistle-blowers at ayon sa impormasyon natin, sinang-ayunan daw po ni Gng. Ruby Tuason ang mga salaysay. Siya talaga ang tumanggap ng mga kickback," he added.
 
The lawyer said Tuason gave details on "who, where and when the kickbacks were received."

"Yung ilalahad po niyang statements ay napakabigat po at mahihirapan makalusot ang mga legislators na binanggit niya sa kanyang statements," he said.

He added: "There is enough reason to silence her forever."

Meanwhile, President Aquino said Tuason's testimony will bolster the evidence against the alleged perpetrators of the pork barrel scam and will bring closure to the issue.

He said he believes Tuason's testimony will provide the missing pieces linking some personalities to the misuse of lawmakers' priority development assistance funds.

"'Yung sinabing magtetestify siya, merong isa na magkumpleto ng proseso, magtatahi, mag-reaffirm ng mga allegations ng ating whistle-blowers. So mas mapapatibay ang ebidensya," the President said.

"Sabi ko nga sa sambayanan, kung saan tayo dadalhin ng ebidensya, doon tayo tutungo. So makakatulong 'to sa pagsasara sa kabanata nito na nangyari(ng) pang-aapi sa sambayanan."