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RECAP: Ruby Tuason at Senate hearing on PDAF scam, Feb. 13

February 13, 2014 9:03am

Ruby Tuason, whistleblowers at Senate pork probe
Ruby Tuason, whistleblowers at Senate 'pork' probe. Potential state witness Ruby Tuason (seated, center) is flanked by whistleblower Benhur Luy and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, along with other pork barrel scam whistleblowers, at the Senate inquiry on Thursday, February 13, into the alleged misuse by some lawmakers of P10-B Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Maki Pulido
The Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday conducted the eighth public hearing on the multibillion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam allegedly involving lawmakers and trader Janet Lim-Napoles. Whistleblower Ruby Tuason was at the Senate to answer senators' questions.

READRuby Tuason faces Senate for her first public testimony on 'pork' scam

9:06 a.m.: Senate blue ribbon committee chairman TG Guingona thanks everyone for attending today's hearing, in particular, Justice Sec. Leila de Lima and Ruby Tuason for volunteering to help the Department of Justice get to the bottom of the pork barrel scam.

Potential state witness Ruby Tuason swears before testifying at the Senate inquiry on Thursday, February 13, into the alleged misuse by some lawmakers of the P10-B Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Benjie Castro

9:10 a.m.: Ruby Tuason makes opening statement, says she is grateful for this opportunity. She says she applied to become state witness in full knowledge of the risks doing so, opening her life to the scrutiny of the public without promise of immunity. 

9:12 a.m.: Tuason says, "If I am the extortionist he [Sen. Jinggoy Estrada] claims I am, why did I offer to return" the cash received? "Now I risk my life only for the Philippines," she adds.

9:14 a.m.: Tuason says it was her personal decision to tell the truth.

READRuby Tuason on motive for surfacing: I want the best for this country

9:15 a.m.: Tuason says she met Janet Lim-Napoles in 2004. Napoles was introduced to her by her husband as someone interested in buying her house. Tuason says Napoles told her she was a supplier for the government. Napoles befriended her.

Transactions with Sen. Jinggoy Estrada

9:15 a.m.: Tuason adds Napoles asked her to introduce her to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada as Tuason was the former social secretary of Sen. Jinggoy's father, former president Joseph Estrada. Tuason says Napoles eventually did not buy her house.

9:18 a.m.: Tuason then says that at first, Sen. Jinggoy refused to meet Napoles personally. Napoles told Tuason to relay to Sen. Jinggoy that the businesswoman will give a 40 percent commission for a project. Tuason tells the Senate she then had a project worth more than P37.5M and the commission was P5.7M. This commission was given to Sen. Jinggoy at his house. "He received it," Tuason says, adding there was no one else with them when this happened in 2004 or 2005. However, Sen. Jinggoy eventually returned the cash.

9:25 a.m.: Tuason and whistleblower Benhur Luy detail how P11.970M was subsequently delivered to Pauline Labayen at 1564 Mahogany St. in Dasmariñas Village, Makati. Labayen is the former secretary of Sec. Jinggoy. The house is owned by Justa Tantoco, a former chief of staff of former first lady and senator Loi Estrada. Luy adds actor Mat Ranillo and his wife were there at the time. 

9:32 a.m.: Tuason says that after that, whenever cash was be delivered, it would be packed in handcarry bags, "'yung may gulong." She tells Guingona whenever she would go to the Senate to deliver cash usually in the late afternoon, she would go through a side passageway in the basement and would be met by the staff of Sen. Jinggoy.

READRuby Tuason: I delivered ‘heavy’ bagfuls of money to Jinggoy

9:38 a.m.: Tuason says Sen. Jinggoy then transacted with Napoles directly.

9:45 a.m.: Tuason reiterates that the first transaction was in 2004, but Sen. Jinggoy returned the commission. Then the next transaction involving her and the senator was in 2008. Earlier in the hearing, Tuason said Sen. Jinggoy once called her up and asked for money and she went to deliver P1million in cash to him in Greenhills.

Connection with Sen. Enrile

9:55 a.m.: Tuason says she never got to talk about Napoles with Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, but only with Enrile's chief-of-staff, Gigi Reyes. 

READNo direct ‘pork’ talks with Enrile, only with his  former aide – Ruby Tuason

9:57 a.m.: Tuason says Napoles asked for her help when the latter was summoned to the Senate to shed light on the fertilizer scam. Tuason was then in the US and Napoles kept asking her to come back and help her.

9:58 a.m.: Tuason details how she would deliver commissions for Sen. Enrile to Reyes. They would meet in restaurants such as L'Opera and Mamou. 

10 a.m.: Tuason says she never talked to Enrile about the pork barrel scam commissions, but reveals the senator would sometimes join her and Reyes for coffee when they would meet for lunch.


10:05 a.m.: Tuason details how they operated using funds from Malampaya. They found a contact in Malacañang, Atty. Jess Santos, former lawyer of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo. She says she did not even know what Malampaya was. She was just told "ito 'yung sa DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform]."

Tuason's commissions

10:11 a.m.: Tuason admits she received around P40 million (ballpark figure) in commissions from transactions with Napoles. She reiterates to Guingona she is willing to return this amount.

10:13 a.m.: Tuason says she was promised 5 percent commission but 5 percent of what she got was withheld. She later learned it was for Napoles.

Eventually, Tuason was told by Luy, upon instruction from Napoles, that the transaction did not push through.

10:18 a.m.: Luy says Napoles also offered a commission to actor Mat Ranillo. She gave him a vehicle, Ford E-150 van, and this would be offset against Ranillo's commissions. Luy says Napoles also did transactions directly with Labayen, saying "nagkaproblema" between Napoles and Ranillo.

READLuy: Actor Mat Ranillo signed vouchers on Jinggoy, Loi ‘pork’ transactions

Other state witnesses?

10:30 a.m.
: De Lima says she does not want to confirm if other persons are offering themselves as state witnesses. She says they are choosy but adds, "Itong paglabas po ni Mrs. Tuason—natutuwa po kami—ay nagpapalakas sa kaso namin." 

10:34 a.m.: Luy sends a message to other people involved in the scam: "May the Lord bother your conscience, na magsabi sila ng totoo."

10:37 a.m.: Luy says the P40M received by Tuason is not in his records but he reveals P2.1B worth of transactions went through Tuason.

10:41 a.m.: Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV asks that the Senate issue subpoenas to Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Zenaida Ducut, Mat Ranillo III, Justa Tantoco, and Atty. Jess Santos to appear in the next hearing

10:45 a.m.: Guingona orders that subpoenas be issued to the persons named by Trillanes. 

READSenate panel to summon Mat Ranillo, Loi's former aide to next 'pork' hearing

Tuason explains again

10:49 a.m.: Tuason tells Trillanes she can't remember exactly how much cash she delivered to Sen. Jinggoy—maybe P8M to P10M. The bags would be brought to the senator's private room at the Senate.

10:59 a.m.: Tuason says her work is to coordinate between Napoles' company and the office of the senators, adding she would just enter the picture at the beginning and end of a project.

11:03 a.m.: Trillanes asks Tuason if she believes Enrile knew about the transactions they were doing with Reyes. Tuason says the senator must have had an inkling. She adds Reyes had authority to transact on behalf of Enrile. Tuason later says she can only presume that Enrile knew about the scheme.

11:08 a.m.: Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago says she is feeling lonely today because of the absence of the other senators—"Did someone pay them or tell them not to be here? I rose from my death bed to be here. After this, I will have to stay in my sick bed for two days."

11:09 a.m.: Santiago asks Tuason if she is familiar with the codenames Sexy, Tanda, Pogi. Tuason says she is familiar with those three but not the others. The senator then asks about the delivery of cash to Mat Ranillo at Justa Tantoco's house as specified in Tuason's affidavit. Tuason clarifies she is not sure if Tantoco is involved in the scam, only that it was at her house where the cash was delivered.

11:18 a.m.: Santiago asks Tuason if indeed it was true she personally delivered the money to Sen. Jinggoy as specified in her affidavit. Tuason replies in the affirmative. Santiago calls this slamdunk eyewitness evidence. 

11:22 a.m.: Santiago verifies with Tuason if she had nothing wrong with her five senses when she personally gave the money for Enrile to Reyes. Tuason confirms there was nothing wrong with her five senses. Santiago asks Tuason if Enrile would mention anything about the money whenever he would join her and Reyes for coffee. Tuason said Enrile did not say anything. Santiago notes this is important since silence means consent under the Civil Code of the Philippines. The senator also alludes to a deeper relationship between Reyes and Enrile.

11:33 a.m.: Santiago goes over the requirements for a person to be accepted as state witness, then pronounces Tuason as a perfect state witness. She then asks Tuason if the NBI coached her or told her to tell a lie. Tuason says no.

11:41 a.m.: Santiago asks Tuason who can provide corroborating testimony to back up what she has said. Tuason names Benhur Luy, Janet Lim-Napoles and Marina Sula. She later says she has had no contact with Reyes after the latter left the country last year.

11:48 a.m.: Santiago asks the Senate to investigate the security agency assigned to the Senate because they apparently did not do their job well—they did not check Tuason's bags whenever she would deliver money to Sen. Jinggoy.

Miriam wants probe on Senate security agency that allowed Tuason's visits

11:50 a.m.: Tuason denies Sen. Jinggoy's claim that she asked him for money prior to coming out as whistleblower. In fact, the senator called her, she says, and she asked him then, "Ano ang maitutulong mo sa akin?" Tuason says Sen. Jinggoy said there is nothing he could do.

11:53 a.m.: Tuason tells Sen. Bam Aquino what made her change her mind and come back to the country to tell the truth. She says she spent some time alone in the US and would cry and pray, and she felt guilty, especially when she saw the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda. "I don't want to die with 80 million Filipinos hating me. I don't want to die with my grandchildren feeling ashamed of me." She adds should she die whether by assassination or natural causes, at least she can meet her Maker and say that she asked for forgiveness. Tuason says she may have to sell her house to be able to return the money she received, but it's a small price to pay.

READ: Yolanda, love for grandchildren prompted Ruby Tuason to surface

12:03 p.m.: Sen. Sonny Angara asks the DOJ team about the status of efforts to retrieve the ill-gotten wealth of parties involved in the pork barrel scam. 

12:06 p.m.: Angara asks Tuason if it was possible to do anomalous transactions in government without "contacts" inside? Tuason says "I think there should be."

12:09 p.m.: Sen. Grace Poe asks Luy, "Can you remember some names of those who claimed 'commissions' for some lawmakers from PDAF?" Luy replies, "Wala naman po Ma'am. Si Ma'am Tuason lang."

12:15 p.m.: Sen. Poe asks Tuason, "Is it true that you asked for help from Sen. Jinggoy when you were in the US?" Tuason replies, "I didn't ask for money but some help."

Potential state witness Ruby Tuason (center), flanked by whistleblower Benhur Luy and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, testifies at the Senate inquiry on Thursday, February 13, into the alleged misuse by some lawmakers of the P10-B Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Benjie Castro

12:21 p.m.: Sen. Poe then asks the DOJ team: "How long will the plunder cases begin to move now that you have Ms. Tuason's affidavit?" Lawyer replies, "Maybe April or May."

12:26 p.m.: On Guingona's order, Tuason is given a book of photos of staff members of some senators to see if she could recognize some of the faces. Tuason makes a mark on the photo she supposedly recognized, without reading the name out loud.

12:30 p.m.: Guingona orders the panel staff to take a picture of the book and the marked picture and announces that the person Tuason identified was a certain Alfredo delos Reyes, who is supposedly part of the security detail of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. 

12:34 p.m.: Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Balajadia is ordered to check if the staff (delos Reyes) is at the Senate.

12:42 p.m.: Sen. Cayetano asks Benhur Luy: "After reading Tuason's affidavit... how do you feel about that?" Luy says, "Totoo po."

1:01 p.m.: Sen. Poe suggests a lifestyle check on the personalities involved in the scam. Guingona says they will relay it to the DOJ.

1:07 p.m.: Tuason is asked about Reyes' lifestyle, and she replies Reyes has expensive bags such as an Hermes. Tuason says she knows Reyes lives in La Vista, but she hasn't been to her house. Tuason tells Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano she doesn't know where the money given to Reyes from the kickbacks went. Cayetano mentions the deeper relationship between Enrile and Reyes. Luy adds Napoles paid for Reyes' 50th birthday party.

1:12 p.m.: Tuason reiterates she got 5 percent commissions. Cayetano computes and says P40M is 5 percent of P800M. Tuason confirms that her last transaction with them (JLN Corp.) was in 2008. Luy says John Raymond de Asis then took over from Tuason as middleman. Tuason also says she dealt with another person named "Tani," identified as one of the staff of Sen. Jinggoy, when delivering money to the Senate.

1:23 p.m.: Senate adjourns the hearing.

—With Luis Gorgonio/HS, GMA News
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