Tuason a provisional state witness in Malampaya case

Posted at 06/12/14 4:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Ruby Tuason, one of those accused of plunder in the Malampaya Fund scam, has been admitted as a provisional state witness by the Department of Justice.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed this during her confirmation hearing before the Commission on Appointments yesterday when asked by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada about the status of the Malampaya Fund scam investigation.

De Lima said she approved the admission of Tuason as provisional state witness as the chief implementer of the Witness Protection Program.

Even though Tuason has been admitted as a state witness, De Lima said she does not yet enjoy immunity from suit since the Office of the Ombudsman has yet to decide on it.

“We have issued to Mrs. Tuason a provisional admission under the Witness Protection Program for the Malampaya case, as a state witness under WPP,” De Lima said.

“The ombudsman is still reviewing because the evaluation of the complaint in the Malampaya is ongoing. There was provisional determination by the Secretary of Justice on her qualification as a possible state witness, but we will be deferring to the final judgment of the ombudsman,” she added.

De Lima said the complaints against several of the accused have been filed before the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombudsman, “although the case build up is still ongoing.”

De Lima said no lawmakers were included in the complaint the National Bureau of Investigation filed before the ombudsman.

The accused were led by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former executive secretary Eduardo Ermita, former agrarian reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman, undersecretaries Narciso Nieto and Teresita Panlilio, who is now officer-in-charge of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council secretariat, former budget secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos and Candaba Mayor Rene Maglanque.

DAR officials and employees namely Angelita Cacananta, Nilda Baui, Dominador Sison Jr., Ronald Venancio and several officials and employees of the non-government organizations of Napoles were also included in the complaint.