Tuason leaves Philippines to look for funds

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

MANILA -- Socialite Ruby Tuason has left the Philippines to raise P40 million that she is planning to return to the government in line with her participation in the pork barrel scam.

Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Maria Angelica Pedro told reporters on Wednesday that Tuason went to Hong Kong on Sunday via Cathay Pacific flight CX-902.

From Hong Kong, Tuason will go to Los Angeles, California and is expected to return to the Philippines on April 5.

Pedro said Tuason's trip was cleared by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which placed her under the lookout bulletin long before she expressed intention last month to testify for the government in the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by some lawmakers.

"She has personal matters to attend to, foremost of which is her commitment to return P40 million (which represents kickbacks received from the scam) so she is talking to people on how to come up with a financing for this," said Tuason's lawyer Dennis Manalo, noting that his client is also planning to sell her only house in the Philippines.

Manalo said Tuason had already given her testimony before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), DOJ, Office of the Ombudsman and the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, that is why she started talking to people on how she will able to fulfill her promise to the government.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, found the disclosure of Tuason's flight "unacceptable."

"We are not supposed to be disclosing the whereabouts of our witnesses whether they are here or wherever. That is why I find it unacceptable that spokesperson was announcing things like that without clearance," she said.

Tuason was asking the government to drop her from the plunder charges in relation to the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scams. The charges are being evaluated by the Ombudsman.

The former social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada said she delivered kickbacks to Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, who allegedly channeled their PDAF allocation to dubious non-government organizations (NGOs) of businesswoman Janet Napoles.

Tuason is currently under the provisional coverage of the DOJ's Witness Protection Program (WPP). (Sunnex)

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