MANILA (UPDATE) - A former aide of ex-President Joseph Estrada has admitted that she received kickbacks for acting as the conduit of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, a lawyer for the pork scam whistle-blowers said Friday.
Atty. Levito Baligod said Ruby Tuason, a former aide of ex-president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and believed to be the conduit of Senators Enrile and Estrada in the pork scam, had returned to the Philippines to atone for the scandal and reveal all she knows about its workings.
Baligod said he received the gist of Tuason's sworn statement, which gave details about her role in the scam including the receipt of multimillion-peso kickbacks from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
He said that based on the information he received, Tuason corroborated the earlier testimonies of the pork scam whistle-blowers and gave new information on "the disposition of the kickbacks."
"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.
"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."
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meanwhile, told reporters that Mrs. Tuason gave very vital information on the scam and has committed "to return certain amount, which was her share for referring projects to the lawmakers that she implicated in the scam."
Baligod said it was the strength of Tuason's statements that prompted Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to allow provisional admission of Tuason into the justice department's Witness Protection Program. Only de Lima, lawyer Dennis Manalo and top National Bureau of Investigation officials have copies of Tuason's affidavit.
Tuason arrived in Manila at around 3:40 a.m. Friday on board PAL flight PR 105 from San Francisco. DZMM's Dennis Datu said NBI agents reportedly picked her up from San Francisco, and an NBI special task force secured her from NAIA Terminal 2 to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The Bureau of Immigration earlier said Tuason left the country on August 26, just two days before alleged scam mastermind Janet Napoles surrendered to President Aquino.
A former social secretary of Estrada, Tuason has been linked to both the P10 billion pork barrel scam of Napoles and 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."
Mrs. Arroyo has denied that she is the unidentified principal of Tuason, whose late husband is a cousin of Mike Arroyo.