MANILA - Senator Jinggoy Estrada lambasted his colleague Senator Teofisto 'TG' Guingona on Monday, saying the chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee had pre-judged him in its probe on the pork barrel scam.
Estrada, who asked Senate President Frank Drilon to give him the chance to speak on the floor as a birthday gift (he turned 51 today), said: “If you or anybody has any goods against me, I think the proper forum is the committee on ethics. It think it’s unfair for me and Senator [Juan Ponce] Enrile that the outcome has already been prejudged…”
He said he almost fell of his chair when Guingona described socialite Ruby Tuason’s testimony last week as a “three-point shot, buzzer beater, winning shot.”
He said he feels hurt by Guingona’s conclusion, especially since the committee has yet to finish its probe and come up with its report.
However, Estrada said that “if he [Guingona] chooses that battle, I will give him that battle, no problem with me. Magkakasama tayong lahat pero para husgahan ako na ako’y guilty, di ako papayag. Lalabanan ko yan dahil wala ako kasalanan sa taumbayan.”
He said Tuason’s testimony is “empty” contrary to what has been trumpeted by Guingona.
“I don’t want to discuss the details here because this is not the proper forum," Estrada added.
In her affidavit and testimony, Tuason claimed she personally delivered Estrada’s kickbacks from his pork barrel allocations from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to his office in the Senate. When she appeared before the committee, she identified the staff of Estrada who helped her whenever she went to Estrada's office to turn over the kickbacks.
Estrada also sought anew copies of the CCTV footage of the days when Tuason went to his office many years ago. The Senate has said these have already been deleted.
Estrada said his colleagues can always express their views, but added Guingona went too far with his assessment of Tuason's testimony.
“You think that’s unfair, Mr. President? We’re already being tried by publicity,” he said.
“Di ako humihingi ng tulong sa mga kapwa ko senador. Never did I ask for help from any of my colleagues because I can defend myself and you can attest to that, Mr. President. Even from Malacanang, I never did I do that because I know that my conscience is clear and I can defend my case in court – at the proper forum,” he said.
Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III also stood by his ally and asked the other senators to avoid mudslinging. He recalled a witness was once called to the Senate claiming he (Sotto's) had links to a drug lord. The allegation turned out to be false, he said.
Senator Alan Cayetano, a critic of Enrile, said Estrada has “valid points about how senators should conduct themselves.”
“[Just] let history judge and allow Senator Jinggoy to have a happy birthday despite all the challenges,” he said.