A person who supposedly received kickbacks on behalf of two senators has turned state witness, the Justice Department said on Friday morning.
Ruby C. Tuason, one of several persons accused in a scandal involving public funds and fake projects, is now under the Justice Department’s Witness Protection Program (WPP), Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in a briefing.
However, the immunity is conditional, pending the evaluation of her affidavit, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in the same briefing. As a result, she is not immune from suit, as of yet, Morales added.
Tuason arrived in Manila from San Francisco Friday, past three in the morning. She was immediately escorted by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Special Action Task Force.
“Meron na siyang ginawa at sinumpaang affidavit. Meron na siyang sworn statement, question and answer sworn statement na kanilang pina-authenticate before the proper Philippine consular official in that foreign country. So ngayon, andito siya para i-submit yang sworn statement na ‘yan sa Ofice of the Ombudsman at para i-re-affirm niya before a proper administrating official sa Office of the Ombudsman,” de Lima said earlier.
(She has filed a question-and-answer statement sworn before and authenticated before the proper Philippine consular officials in that foreign country. Now, she’s here to submit and reaffirm that sworn statement to the Office of the Ombudsman.)
Tuason served was the social secretary of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, a fact that the policitian denies in an phone interview with ANC.
Whistleblowers of the pork barrel scam have identified Tuason as the one who allegedly received kickbacks for Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile.
“Nakipag-coordinate na po kami sa Ombudsman at ganoon ang gagawin ngayon ni Mrs. Ruby Tuason. State witness siya ngayon albeit under provisional coverage pending further evaluation,” De Lima said.
De Lima said they have yet to confer with her counsels whether they can share Tuason’s statement.
In a phone interview with Tuason’s lawyer, Atty. Dennis Manalo, his client is ready to testify against the principals of the pork barrel scam. Manalo however declined to identify the lawmakers who would be implicated by Tuason’s testimony.
Tuason decided to leave because “she was afraid of the possible consequences that could happen to her as a result of her involvement in this case,” Manalo said. “What made her return is that she wanted to clear her conscience and do whatever it takes to be able achieve her goal, and she told me as far as she is concerned it is only the truth that can clear whatever is bothering her heart and mind," Manalo said.
Manalo said, Tuason is willing to return the alleged kickbacks she received.
Tuason left the country in August 2013.
She is facing two plunder charges, one for the pork barrel scam and the other for the Malampaya fund scam.
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