MANILA – Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Friday said he is confident that his son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, would still be able to defend himself in the pork barrel scam case even if a key player has agreed to testify in favor of the government.
"Wala kaming kakaba-kaba. I know my son Jinggoy can defend himself," Estrada said, referring to the sworn statement of his former aide, Ruby Tuason, which could potentially pin down the senator and several others involved in the P10 billion scam.
Tuason arrived in the Philippines on Friday and went straight to the Department of Justice to submit her sworn statement, which Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said contains "very vital information."
Levito Baligod, lawyer of the pork scam whistle-blowers, said Tuason allegedly confirmed that she received kickbacks for Senator Estrada and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.
Estrada, however, said Tuason could have also been manipulated already by their political enemies.
"Siguro sa kanila vital. Eh pwede namang diktahan na iyan kung ano ang sasabihin nyan in order to destroy any person. Now the other thing is if they can prove anything she said," the mayor said.
Tuason allegedly served as businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles' conduit of pork barrel kickbacks to Senator Estrada and Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.
Senators Estrada, Enrile, Bong Revilla and several others are facing plunder charges in connection with P10 billion pork barrel scam.
Former JLN Corporation finance clerk Marina Sula earlier told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that she brought a bag of money to Tuason's house in 2011.
An Anti-Money Laundering Council investigation also revealed that P20 million in credit memo transactions was entered to Tuason's Union Bank of the Philippines account in 2008. This was supposedly rebates from the pork barrel funds funneled by Senator Enrile to Napoles' foundations.
Tuason, who was also charged with plunder, is now under a "provisional coverage" of Department of Justice's Witness Protection Program.
She is seeking full immunity from lawsuit in exchange for her knowledge on the alleged public funds misuse. She has also promised to return a certain amount of the money she received from the alleged transactions.
Although he refused to comment on the implication of the sworn statement to the case, Tuason's lawyer Dennis Manalo said his client would not have been admitted to the WPP if her knowledge on the scam is 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 tha DOJ would not sabotage its own case."
Aside from the pork scam case, Tuason has also been linked to 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.
The complaint said Tuason pocketed P242.775 million in kickbacks "received through bank withdrawals for a still unidentified principal."