Lawyer OKs Tuason, rejects Napoles as witness

Posted at 05/05/14 9:54 AM

MANILA - The lawyer of some of the whistle-blowers in the pork barrel scam is backing the Ombudsman's decision to tap socialite Ruby Tuason as a witness in the pork barrel scam cases and grant her immunity. He also rejected a proposal to grant the same privilege to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

Speaking to ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda", lawyer Levito Baligod said Tuason's testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has been consistent with the revelations of the other whistle-blowers.

He said that while Tuason's decision to return P40 million in kickbacks she allegedly received from Napoles was not a precondition to become a state witness, it was still a good move on the part of the socialite

Asked if P40 million was the correct amount Tuason got from Napoles, Baligod said: "I cannot say if it's correct, that she only got P40 million but it is clear that this came from [priority development assistance funds]."

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.

Meanwhile, Baligod rejected a proposal to accept Napoles as a state witness, saying the alleged mastermind "fails to meet the spirit and the letter of the law."

"Ang importante kasi sa state witness ay yung credibility and she destroyed her own credibility when she appeared before the Senate," he said.

He said state witnesses are supposed to help the government uncover a crime, which Napoles failed to do when she refused to cooperate before the Senate.

"She made it harder for government to discover the crime and said that the whistle-blowers are lying," he said.

For his part, Senator Jinggoy Estrada also scoffed at the idea that Tuason only earned P40 million in the scan.

"Imposible yun. Unang-una, hindi ko alam paano na derive yung P40 million na commission sa PDAF. Di ko alam how they arrived at that figure," he said in the same interview.

He also questioned why the Department of Justice continues to accept more witnesses when Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had previously stated that the pork barrel scam cases are strong.

Asked if Napoles should be a witness in the scam, he said he will leave it up to authorities.

Estrada is one of three senators facing charges for their alleged links to the multibillion-peso scam.