MANILA -- Three senators facing plunder charges in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam should prove their innocence not just to in court but to the Filipino people, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said.
Speaking to ANC's "Top Story" on Wednesday, Cayetano said it is not enough for Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. to simply deny their alleged involvement in the anomaly.
The three lawmakers are accused of conspiring with alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in funneling their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) that the businesswoman allegedly set up.
The senators, in return, allegedly received huge kickbacks from Napoles.
According to Cayetano, the three senators should present evidence to counter the testimonies of the whistleblowers in the case.
"Hindi sapat na sabihin ng mga senador na involved na hindi totoo iyan, na conspiracy iyan. Kailangan mag-present ka rin ng ebidensya to show na hindi yan [totoo]," he said.
He said the three should also "convince the Filipino people that [they are] innocent," noting that it is not only the court but also the public that will judge them.
"Hindi pwedeng sa korte ka lang sasagot. Dapat pati sa media sumasagot ka rin," he said.
"Paano kung maabswelto sila ng korte pero guilty sila sa harap ng tao? Eh di pati justice system natin maaapektuhan?" he added.
Senate to grill Tuason
Estrada and Enrile have denied statements made by Ruby Tuason -- the latest to spill the beans on the pork barrel anomaly.
Tuason, a former aide of then President and now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada, is also one of the accused in the pork scam case.
She returned to the Philippines from the US last Friday to reveal what she knows about the controversy.
In her affidavit, Tuason admitted delivering PDAF kickbacks to Estrada and Enrile from Napoles.
Cayetano said they will "test her credibility" on Thursday once she testifies before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier said the testimony of Tuason corroborates the evidence of the prosecution in the case, including the testimonies of the whistleblowers.
"As far as whether totoo or hindi yung sinasabi niya, we can test her credibility sa pagtatanong... The more kasi na magbigay ka ng detalye, the more na malaman mo kung nagsisinungaling o hindi," Cayetano said.
"Kasi if you're telling the truth, kahit isang milyon yung detalyeng ibigay mo, mave-verify yan. But if you're lying, isang detalye lang, mahuhuli ka," he explained.
He said they will ask Tuason all the "hard questions" to see if she is indeed telling the truth.
"Nagtutugma ba dahil totoo, dahil tama siya? Ang kwento ni Benhur [Luy] at alam din ni Tuason ay pareho. [O] pwedeng nagtutugma dahil conspiracy, ibig sabihin imbento nilang dalawa."
"So ang question nga paano mo patutunayan? That's why importanteng harapin ng tatlong senador ito," Cayetano said.