MANILA - Ruby Tuason, one of the accused in the pork barrel scam who has turned state witness, has identified an alleged Palace connection to the Malampaya fund scam during the Arroyo presidency.
Tuason, who has come out of hiding, said in her sworn statement submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that alleged pork barrel scam operator Janet Lim Napoles asked her in 2009 if she had connections in Malacañang.
"I told her I would check or ask around," she said.
Tuason was the social secretary of then-President Joseph Estrada.
"I mentioned this to my brother Remy. He told me that he might find somebody who has connections in Malacañang," Tuason added.
After a couple of weeks, Tuason's brother told her he found someone. "I asked him who this person was, he said Atty. Jess Santos," she said.
"Not long after, he asked me if he [Remy] could use my house for pick up of the money for Atty. Jess Santos. I agreed because he was my brother," Tuason added.
Tuason's brother told her that the funds being delivered to her house were for a project of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
She said it was only after watching the news that she learned the money was from the Malampaya fund.
Tuason said her brother did not tell her who was really receiving the money.
It's unclear from Tuason's affidavit if her brother had direct transactions with Napoles.
Tuason said she did not inform Napoles about her brother's connections in Malacañang.
"There was no need because all that Janet Napoles was interested in was the issuance/approvals of the papers needed for the release/payment of the Malampaya funds to her NGOs," she said.
Tuason also said Napoles had a habit of name-dropping, so she avoided mentioning names to the businesswoman.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier said Santos was the lawyer and spokesperson of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo at the height of the "Jose Pidal" controversy.
"We all know who Atty. Jess Santos is. With this revelation may nababanggit na pangalan si Mrs. Tuason, so we will pursue this," de Lima said.
But Santos on Monday (Feb. 10) denied on ANC that he was the lawyer Tuason was referring to in her affidavit.
"Eh napakarami namang Atty. Jess Santos eh, eh baka kako hindi naman ako ang ibig sabihin ni Secretary de Lima. Dahil sa, kung ang binabanggit ay yang Malampaya fund na yan, eh sa dyaryo ko lang nababasa yan eh na nasa Palawan," he said.
ABS-CBN News again tried to get Santos's side, but he declined to grant an interview.
He said he will no longer speak on the issue, unless he gets a subpoena or formal letter stating that he is indeed the "Atty. Jess Santos" in Tuason's affidavit. - reports from Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News; ANC