MANILA - Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Friday denied personally receiving cash kickbacks from his father's former social secretary Ruby Tuason in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim Napoles.
In an interview, Estrada rejected Tuason's statement that she personally handed cash to the senator right inside the Senate.
"I deny that statement. Walang binibigay na pera," he said.
Estrada said he knew that Tuason was returning to the Philippines on Friday but was surprised to learn that his father's former aide was ready to testify against him.
The senator said Tuason could have been pressured to testify in the pork barrel scam after experiencing hardship while in the United States.
He said he earlier refused to give money to Tuason when the former Palace aide asked for some last October.
Tuason, a former social secretary of ex-President Estrada, is one of several accused in the P10 billion pork barrel scam of Janet Lim Napoles. The scam involved the funneling of billions of pesos in Priority Development Assistance Fund to fake NGOs set up by Mrs. Napoles.
Tuason is accused of acting as the "conduit" of Napoles to Senators Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuason made the introductions for Napoles to the two senators upon the request of the businesswoman.
She said Tuason claimed that Napoles offered Estrada
"40% commission minus 5% withholding tax" for every PDAF project that the lawmaker funnels through an Napoles NGO.
The Commission on Audit earlier said Estrada gave P396.25 million to Napoles NGOs from 2007 to 2009.
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 basement 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.
The former Palace aide is also implicated in the Malampaya fund scam where she is accused of pocketing more than P240 million in kickbacks for a still unknown principal.
Tuason has said she is willing to testify on the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scams in exchange for immunity. With a report by Ruby Tayag, radio DZMM