Ombudsman grants immunity to Ruby Tuason

Posted at 05/02/14 3:16 PM

Ruby Tuason returns P40M to gov't, gets immunity

MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has granted the request of socialite Ruby Tuason for immunity and to become a state witness in the pork barrel scam.

Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said the special panel tasked to conduct a preliminary investigation on the charges recommended that Tuason be granted immunity in exchange for her testimony in the pork barrel scam cases.

"In a 5-page immunity agreement forged between the Ombudsman and Tuason, Tuason was granted immunity from prosecution in the said [priority development assistance fund] cases in exchange for undertaking to testify on her personal knowledge on these cases and produce documents in her possession on the details of the alleged misuse of the PDAF and subject to terms and conditions of the immunity agreement," he said.

He said Tuason had already returned to the government the P40 million she said she received in the scam. He noted that Tuason could lose immunity if she breaches the agreement.

"The proposed testimonyof Tuason was found to be necessary in determining the truth of the acts committed and was found to be material," he said.

Tuason earlier told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that she received about P40 million in commissions from alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and had delivered millions more to Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Atty. Gigi Reyes, the former chief of staff of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

"It would be hypocritical of me to say that I was not motivated by commissions from Mrs. Napoles. I was. The mistake was grave and selfish. The decision haunts me with regret. My conscience can no longer take it," she told the Senate.

Napoles is accused of masterminding the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam involving government officials and lawmakers. The scam saw priority development funds of lawmakers being used for ghost projects of fake non-government organizations set up by Napoles.

More than P2 billion in pork barrel went to Napoles NGOs from 2007-2009, according to the Commission on Audit.

In her testimony, Tuason said she delivered millions of pesos in kickbacks to Estrada and Reyes when she was still an agent of Napoles.

She said she twice delivered cash to Estrada in his 6th floor office in the Senate and once in his house in his Greenhills. One time, she also delivered P1 million in cash to Estrada at Zirkoh Comedy and Music Bar on Wilson Street in San Juan.

As for Enrile’s kickbacks, she said she delivered the money to Atty. Reyes and never directly to the senator.