A Senate employee on Monday testified before the Sandiganbayan that she often saw Ruby Tuason at the Senate building in Pasay City in 2008, during which she allegedly delivered the supposed kickbacks for Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada from his ‘pork barrel’ or Priority Development Assistance Fund.
During Estrada’s bail plea hearing, Jemma Saccuan, section chief of the Senate’s Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms, told the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division that based on the review of the closed-circuit television footage in 2008, a person who looked like Tuason was spotted inside the Senate only for 12 days.
Tuason was seen at the ground, fifth and sixth floors of the building, she said, adding there was no footage that showed she and Estrada were together. Tuason maintained she was Estrada’s bagman, and that she delivered commissions coming from pork barrel scam suspect Janet Lim Napoles for Estrada in 2008.
Estrada’s lawyer, Alexis Abastillas-Suarez, said the testimony of Saccuan and the CCTV footage would only show that Tuason was lying in court.
“The person resembling Ms. Ruby Tuason appeared not just on the floor where the office of Senator Estrada is located but she also went to different floors of the building. She was telling she was carrying a duffel bag. We will establish that she was not,” he said.
She said a memorandum from Saccuan forwarded to Senate President Franklin Drilon would confirm that Tuason was not carrying any duffel bag when she was at the Senate.
The testimony of Saccuan and the CCTV footages are “vital” pieces of evidence to clear Estrada from alleged commission of plunder and graft charges, Suarez said.
The Office of the Ombudsman indicted Estrada, and filed plunder and 11 counts of graft against the senator, along with Napoles, alleged mastermind of the pork barrel fund scam, with the Fifth Division for allegedly receiving P183 million in kickbacks for allocating portions of his pork barrel fund from 2004 to 2012 to the fake non-government organizations engineered by Napoles.
Meanwhile, Napoles filed a 26-page motion for reconsideration with the Third Division, asking for the reversal of its decision denying her bail plea.
“The Honorable Court seriously erred in giving weight to the inconsistent and self-serving testimonies of the whistleblowers,” her motion read.