Lawyer: Tuason backing DOJ's pork scam findings

By Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at Feb 07 2014 12:21 PM | Updated as of Feb 07 2014 09:46 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) -- The statement of Ruby Tuason, one of the accused in the plunder case in connection to the pork barrel scam, corroborates the Department of Justice's (DOJ) own findings on the alleged misuse of lawmakers' priority development assistance funds, her lawyer said on Friday.

Tuason, who returned to the Philippines from the United States early morning on Friday, went to the Office of the Ombudsman to reaffirm her 15-page sworn statement which contains a full disclosure of her participation in the anomaly.

The statement also names personalities she transacted with in the scam.

Tuason executed her affidavit before the Philippine Consulate General Office in San Francisco, California, USA.

Speaking to reporters, lawyer Dennis Manalo said the DOJ is "satisfied" with Tuason's statement as this supports the prosecution's evidence on the case including the testimonies of the whistleblowers.

He said Tuason is ready to testify against the principals of the pork barrel scam.

However, he declined to identify the lawmakers who would be implicated by Tuason's testimony. He said the Ombudsman will still have to evaluate his client's statement.

"Kasama po sa paglalahad ng kanyang partisipasyon yun pong mga pangalan ng kanyang mga naka-transaksyon dito. Lahat po ng kanyang nakausap, lahat po ng kanyang naka-deal, lahat po ng kanyang nakasama...tungkol dito sa mga pondong ito ng pamahalaan," he said.

"Ngayon po huwag po muna nating pangunahan ang opisina ng Ombudsman. Pabayaan po natin silang magbigay ng sariling statement dahil ayaw po naming makasira sa reputasyon ninuman. Basta kami po ay nagbigay na ng statement," he added.

Asked by reporters if Tuason's statement also mentions the senators and congressmen implicated in the pork barrel scam case, Manalo just said: "I will leave it up to you to make your own inference."

"In so far as the essential or material personalities are concerned, they are corroborated," he said.

While the lawyer also declined to identify the number of lawmakers tagged in Tuason's statement, he confirmed that included there were other personalities not mentioned in the cases filed by the DOJ.

"Yes, there will be other names," he said.

Why Tuason returned home

Tuason left the country on August 26 last year, just two days before alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III.

Manalo said his client at that time was not receiving any death threats but was already "fearing for her life," noting that big names were involved in the anomalous transactions.

Tuason, however, decided to return to the Philippines after taking a "repeated process of reflection, recollection and discernment," Manalo said.

"And she just realized that her only liberation from her anxiety, fear, as well as a bothered conscience, is the disclosure of the truth," he added.

He said Tuason is also willing to return the alleged kickbacks she received. "Isosoli niya anumang halaga ang kanyang nakuha."

But the process will still be "subject to a separate discussion" between Tuason and the DOJ, he said.

Under WPP

Tuason is now provisionally under the DOJ's Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had said that Tuason is giving "very vital information" about the scam.

Meanwhile, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Tuason's application for immunity from lawsuit as a state witness will be conditional.

"Ibig sabihin...she would not backtrack from her commitment to testify and she complies with all the requirement for being a state witness," Manalo said.

Pork scam whistleblowers have identified Tuason, a former aide of ex-president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, as the one who allegedly received kickbacks for Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.

Estrada and Enrile are two of the respondents in the plunder and malversation complaints filed by the DOJ in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Tuason is facing two plunder charges -- one for the pork barrel scam and the other for the Malampaya fund scam.

She was charged with plunder along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, former Budget Secretary Rolando, and several others for allegedly pocketing the funds obtained as royalties from the natural gas project off the seas of Palawan.

Meanwhile, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairperson Teofisto "TG" Guingona III said Tuason will be invited to the February 13 hearing on the pork barrel scam.