MANILA – Socialite Ruby Tuason on Thursday said Sen. Jinggoy Estrada personally texted her about his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel that could be used by the fake non-government organizations of Janet Lim Napoles.
In her testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Tuason said she used to receive text messages from Estrada after he agreed to funnel his pork barrel funds to Napoles NGOs.
She confirmed that her role in the pork barrel scam was as “go-between” of Senators Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile to Napoles.
“First, I will be informed na may budget ang senators. So sasabihin sa akin 'O, meron kaming P30 million.’ Kasi ho pumapasok lang ako sa umpisa at huli at bayaran. Pag sinabi sa akin na meron silang P30 million, tatawag na ako kay Benhur. Sasabihin ko ‘Benhur, meron daw silang P30 million. Ano gagawin diyan?’ Ang gagawin niya, gagawa siya ng list kung saan dadalhin yung P30 million,” she told senators.
Tuason said she would be tipped off about the senators’ pork barrel funds by different people. In the case of Enrile, she said she would get text messages from either Atty. Jessica “Gigi” Reyes- the then chief of staff of the senator – or deputy chief of staff Jose Antonio Evangelista.
“In the office of Senator Estrada, it was Senator Estrada himself. Close ho naman kami,” she said.
She also pointed out that she informed Estrada whenever she would be delivering pork barrel kickbacks to his office.
“Usually, nandun siya. Alam niya na dadating ako. Tumatawag ako sa kanya. I will leave [the money] with him. He knows how much he will get because most likely I would tell him,” she said.
Tuason, Napoles, Estrada and Enrile are among 38 people facing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged involvement in the scam. The scheme involved the funneling of PDAF of lawmakers to fake NGOs set up by Napoles.
A Commission on Audit report earlier said some P2 billion in pork barrel funds were funneled to Napoles NGOs from 2007-2009.
The Supreme Court has declared the PDAF as unconstitutional, saying that its discretionary nature made it prone to corruption.
Tuason’s revelations on Thursday about the scam also showed the personal ties that allowed Napoles to get lawmakers’ pork barrel.
A former social secretary of ex-President Estrada, she said she introduced Napoles to Senator Jinggoy because she knew the Estrada family.
Tuason confirmed she received about P40 million in commissions for every PDAF project that she successfully funneled through a Napoles NGO.
She also said it was usually JLN employees and the Senate staff who corresponded via e-mail about the projects.
“Ang trabaho ko lang ho is really between their office and the office of the senator. I get a commission after everything. Sometimes, may advance but it is Mrs. Napoles who gives me my commission,” she said.
She also said Mrs. Napoles sometimes didn't give her commission.
“Mrs. Napoles sometimes has a bad habit of reneging on her commitments as far as I am concerned. She never reneges as far as the senators are concerned. Natatakot siya na baka mawala yun. Pero sa akin, and Benhur knows this, kesyo nalugi siya. I don’t know how siya nalulugi,” she said.
She also said she cannot say for sure if Senator Enrile knew about Reyes’ transactions with Napoles since he never mentioned anything about his PDAF.
“He never talked to me. He never mentioned the word PDAF to me. That’s the truth. Siguro ho. Sa dami ho nito siguro mayroon siyang inkling (about PDAF),” she said.
Estrada and Enrile have denied getting kickbacks from their PDAF. Estrada has also said Tuason is testifying against them so she can get off the hook from the graft and plunder cases.