Tuason immunity only covers PDAF scam: De Lima

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2014 03:58 PM | Updated as of May 02 2014 11:58 PM

MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the immunity granted by the Ombudsman to socialite Ruby Tuason covers only the pork barrel scam cases and that she is still not yet off the hook as far as the alleged misuse of the Malampaya funds is concerned.
De Lima said that the case on the alleged Malampaya funds scam is still under evaluation by the Ombudsman’s field investigation office (FIO).
“I went over the immunity agreement kanina, what was mentioned there are just the PDAF cases, doon sa tatlo na meron nang joint resolution. ‘Yung Malampaya kasi that’s still under evaluation by the FIO. Hindi pa nga for preliminary investigation ‘yung Malampaya. So hindi kasama dyan,” de Lima said.
“Wala pa siyang immunity sa Malampaya kasi i-evaluate din ‘yun. Hindi naman pwede na ‘yung immunity na ‘to sa PDAF automatically covers also the Malampaya kasi iba ‘yung mga kaso na ‘yan.”

The justice secretary witnessed Tuason's turning over of a P40 million manager's check payable to the Republic of the Philippines in restitution under the immunity agreement.
De Lima said the funds will be going to the National Treasury
"Kanina I was requested by the Office of the Ombudsman to be present when Mrs. Tuason, as assisted by her counsels, turned over a manager’s check worth 40 million as restitution because it’s part of her undertaking under the immunity agreement that she returns the 40 million. So in our presence, nakita ko ‘yung pag-abot ng tseke. And of course, that would be remitted to the National Treasury because the check is actually payable to the Republic of the Philippines," de Lima said.

The Ombudsman on Friday granted immunity to former social secretary Ruby Tuason in the plunder complaint in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said the special panel investigating the charges recommended that Tuason be granted immunity in exchange for her testimony in the pork barrel scam cases.

"In a 5-page immunity agreement forged between the Ombudsman and Tuason, Tuason was granted immunity from prosecution in the said [priority development assistance fund] cases in exchange for undertaking to testify on her personal knowledge on these cases and produce documents in her possession on the details of the alleged misuse of the PDAF and subject to terms and conditions of the immunity agreement," he said.

He said Tuason had already returned to the government the P40 million she said she received in the scam. He noted that Tuason could lose immunity if she breaches the agreement.

"The proposed testimony of Tuason was found to be necessary in determining the truth of the acts committed and was found to be material," he said.