Why Ruby Tuason flew to US

Posted at 03/05/14 8:45 PM

MANILA -- Pork barrel scam witness Ruby Tuason went to the United States to personally negotiate with people interested in buying her house, her lawyer Dennis Manalo said on Wednesday.

Speaking to radio dzMM, Manalo said Tuason is selling her house here in the Philippines so that she could return to the government the P40 million that she received from the transactions in the pork barrel scandal.

He said his client is currently "finding ways on how to finance [her] commitment" to return the money.

He said Tuason flew to the US, with Hong Kong only as a stopover, since the prospective buyers of her house are there.

"Andun po [sa Amerika] yung mga taong interesadong bumili... Kasi po hindi po biro yung halaga, yung presyo ng kanyang bahay, mas gusto po ng mga taong nakakausap niya na personal silang makipag-negotiate kay Mrs. Tuason," Manalo said.

The lawyer, however, refused to give details on the house being sold by his client, saying that they are trying to "keep it secure."

He also said Tuason has yet to inform him about her plans once she is able to sell the house, which is her one and only home.

Meanwhile, Manalo pointed out that Tuason is free to travel anytime she wants since no hold departure order has been issued against her.

Nonetheless, he said they still coordinated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding Tuason's plan to leave the country since she is a "vital witness" to the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam and thus needs to be protected.

She was accompanied by NBI personnel when she left the Philippines, Manalo said.

Tuason, one of the accused in both the pork barrel and Malampaya fund scams, is under provisional coverage of the DOJ's Witness Protection Program (WPP).

She has claimed personally delivering pork barrel kickbacks form alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile's former chief of staff, Gigi Reyes.

Tuason has a return ticket dated April 5, 2014. But according to Manalo, his client is willing to return earlier than this if she is called by the Senate, DOJ, NBI or the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the scam.


Meanwhile, Manalo refuted allegations that Tuason's testimony lacked sufficient details, saying that his client has already stated everything she knows about the pork scam.

Tuason was earlier criticized by some senators for failing to provide exact dates and figures when she testified before the Blue Ribbon Committee.

But Manalo claimed Tuason gave a "detailed testimony" even if she only referred to the accounts given by key pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.

"In terms of dates, figures and sources of payments, she has given a detailed testimony...called testimony by way of reference to a document submitted by another witness," he explained.

"So technically po, she's adopting the summary given by Benhur Luy. So pag sinabi po nating kulang sa detalye, hindi po accurate yun. Kasi yung detalyeng binigay ni Benhur Luy ay siya pong detalyeng kinukumpirma din niya," he said.