MANILA - The lawyer of former social secretary Ruby Tuason on Monday denied that his client is colluding with Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile in order to exonerate the latter in the pork barrel scam.
Atty. Dennis Manalo, Tuason's lawyer, said his client was telling the truth when she said that she only delivered the pork barrel kickbacks to Atty. Gigi Reyes, former chief of staff of Enrile, and not directly to the senator.
He pointed out that Tuason could have simply stayed in the United States instead of coming back and facing the uncertainty of testifying in the scam.
"How can she save Juan Ponce Enrile when she has already testified that the funds of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has been used in this scam? She went home precisely to say that, that she delivered the money to the chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. Would the senator appreciate that kind of testimony if they are truly colluding with each other? If they were colluding with each other, hindi na pinauwi yan," he said.
Enrile, Tuason, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and several others are facing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged links to the pork barrel scam of Janet Lim Napoles.
The scheme involves the funneling of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers to ghost projects of non-government organizations put up by Napoles. A Commission on Audit report earlier said at least P2 billion in PDAF were coursed to Napoles NGOs from 2007-2009.
Tuason, a former social secretary of ex-President Joseph Estrada, has testified that she personally delivered kickbacks to Estrada in his office in the Senate. She said she did not pass through the Senate security after being escorted by Estrada's security aides.
On the other hand, Tuason said she made all her deliveries of pork barrel kickbacks to Atty. Reyes and not to Enrile himself. She said Reyes would always pick up the money alone but that Senator Enrile would sometimes arrive to drink a cup of coffee after they were done.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes earlier said Tuason's testimony was suspicious because she gave just enough to exonerate herself while not pinning the blame on Enrile.
Manalo pointed out that Tuason's testimony showed that Estrada dealt with her directly while Enrile used his chief of staff. Tuason earlier testified that Estrada would send her text message about his PDAF that could be funneled to Napoles NGOs.
Manalo also said Tuason cannot be forced to invent details in her testimony against Enrile.
"She is not hiding anything. Why would she say that she delivered money to Enrile in the Senate kung talagang hindi naman nangyari? Why would she invent? If you force her to invent stories and to try to dramatize this, lalong masisira ang kaso ng gobyerno. She is going to appear to be a liar and if she lies in one point, her credibility might be affected," he said.
The lawyer said Estrada's denial, that Tuason delivered food instead of money, only proves that the former social secretary made deliveries directly to the senator's office.
He said Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago also made it clear during her grilling of Tuason that she could "distinguish food and money" and that the socialite had delivered the latter and not the former.
Manalo said Tuason's admission that she earned about P40 million from Napoles is based on the figures presented in both the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scams.
He said it is now up to the Ombudsman if his client will be accepted as a possible state witness.
"Mrs. Ruby Tuason is at peace with the fact that she has stepped forward. She has accepted her fate, reconciled with the government insofar as the participation with the crime is concerned. That to her is the most important thing that she has to achieve. If in the process she is granted immunity, then I have done my job as her lawyer. But for her, it was an issue of conscience. She has unloaded her burden and right now, she is at peace with that idea," he said.