Estrada: Guingona is guilty of ‘offensive foul’

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

SENATOR Jinggoy Estrada who denied all the accusations of potential state witness Ruby Tuason as totally false and a complete falsehood tagged Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Senator Teofisto Guingona III's statements as unfair and considered it an "offensive foul."

Estrada's reaction came after Guingona described Tuason as a "very material and a very credible witness," as he tagged her testimony as "a three-point shot a buzzer beater and winning shot."

Guingona, hearing the testimony of Tuason who is considered as the latest whistleblower in the alleged pork barrel scam of Janet Lim-Napoles, said the detailed narration of Tuason's supposed involvement in the pork scam will help the government in ferreting out the truth.


The Senate Blue Ribbon chair described the testimony of Tuason, who asked to become state witness for the plunder and malversation complaints filed against three senators, Napoles and other officials, as "very very strong".

"In my opinion it is very very strong evidence. To top it all, she (Ruby Tuason) even pointed out the faces of two of the personnel, the staff of Sen. Estrada, 'yong mga sumasalubong sa kanya pagdating siya dito. Remember what Sen. Miriam Santiago said, general denial vs positive assertion. What are these assertions? Details, faces of security personnel," Guingona, during a press conference, said.

Guingona added that the most important testimony by Tuason is that she personally delivered and handed the money to a senator.

"For the first time, we have a witness giving testimonial evidence that she personally handed over kickback money to a senator," he said.

But Senator Estrada said the actuation of Guingona is not proper at all.

"Yan si Guingona, masyadong mapanghusga at alam mo na agad na biased. He is not fair at all. Alam mo na agad kung saan ang leaning." (That Guingona is really judgmental and biased. He already showed his leaning. it is not fair at all.)" Estrada said in an interview.

Estrada also belittled the testimony of Tuason who admitted that she cannot remember some details of the transaction considering that the incident happened several years ago.

"She is starting to fumble. She is not specific enough and cannot even cite the dates the figures of the money and when and where it happened. She is claiming that she cannot give the details of what happened. The truth is I did not receive anything from her. What she is bringing to my office are trays of pancit and sandwiches," Estrada said.

Guingona was quick to explain that it is understandable behavior for Tuason not to remember some details, which he further said is not a point against the new whistle blower.

"Come on, how many of you remember details about mga lakad n'yo six years ago? Four years ago, kung saan kayo pumunta? This is not an exercise in memory, this is an exercise in finding out the truth and what is clear is that she distinctly remembers handling over money. Of course, she doesn’t remember how much, of course she doesn’t remember the dates. She might be a robot if she remembers everything. And she already said she does record. You don’t record everyday transactions in your lives, four years ago? I’m sure you won’t be able to remember them also," Guingona said.

Unlike Estrada, however, Tuason's testimony did not directly link Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile to the scam, said the committee chairman.

"In my opinion, it clearly establishes it was going through the chief of staff," he said, referring to Enrile’s former chief of staff, lawyer Jessica "Gigi" Reyes.

He also pointed out Tuason's testimony that she had never discussed the pork barrel funds with Enrile.

Estrada meanwhile admitted he was really tempted to attend the hearing in order to confront his accusers but his lawyers advised him not to.

According to Estrada, the move of Tuason is a desperate act in order to save herself from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) issue and the Malampaya scam, which he said can be considered more complicated "because Benhur Luy himself admitted that Tuason received the money from her."

"I symphatize with Tita Ruby. She is really desperate. She was forced to execute an affidavit to save her own neck because this Malampaya scam will really pin her down," Estrada said.

Estrada clarified that he only served as senator last June 2004, "and the first Saro that I received was December 2004 and not September 2004 as she claimed. I was a new senator that time. There is no way for them to accuse me. No basis," Estrada said.

But Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano supported the view of Guingona as he described Tuason as really the "eye of the storm."

The Senate Majority Leader also described Tuason's testimony as "damning and heavy weight testimony."

Cayetano added that Tuason is definitely knowledgeable, definitely credible, yet she falls short by holding back and not telling all.

Tuason, Cayetano said, may not be intentionally hiding relevant information but she is not able to speak candidly yet.

"I don't think na may itinatago. Iba yung tinatago sa hindi lang masyadong makapag salita. But I think she knows much, much, much more sa PDAF. Sinabi niya na (rin) yung Malampaya. But I think between 2004 up to 2010, napakalalaki, napakadami ng mga scams. And mukhang marami talaga siyang alam dahil marami siyang kilala," Cayetano said.

Cayetano believes that if the DOJ pressures her to tell more, there will be more personalities that will not be able to sleep soundly considering what she knows.

For her part, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago described as bull’s-eye the testimony of Tuason.

Santiago noted that Tuason's affidavit contain specific names and even details of the transaction.

"You are a perfect witness, a competent witness, an intelligent witness," Santiago told Tuason during the hearing.

"Like all trial lawyers, I have learned that a positive assertion like you affidavit is given more weight in law than a negative assertion like the denials of your adversaries," she said.

Santiago said Tuason has direct evidence against Estrada and Enrile, having delivered the money right in front of them.

Estrada and Enrile, along with Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. are facing plunder and other charges before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel anomaly. Napoles and 34 others are facing similar complaints. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

Local news

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