A new twist to the P10-billion pork barrel scandal has surfaced with the return to Manila of a former aide of former President, now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, and vowed to drop the bombshell against the former leader’s senator-son and an erstwhile leader of the Senate. The ex-aide is Ruby Chan Tuason, widow of the late chairman Butch Tuason of the Philippine Sports Commission and reputedly a friend and relative of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo. Tuason fled to San Francisco, California after she was named in plunder and malversation cases in connection with the scam together with Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and some former lawmakers and their staff.
Appearing with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales when she swore in her affidavit on the scandal which she earlier authenticated at the Philippine Consul General’s Office in San Francisco, Tuason claimed that death threat and worries of being on the run for quite long now forced her to come out and say everything that she knows about the issue.
While declaring that her being a state witness was merely conditional and depends on what she will declare about the scandal, Secretary de Lima already declared as “slam dunk evidence” the testimony of Tuason and proclaim the same to the media, without even releasing the affidavit executed by the accused turned state witness. For her statement, the Justice Secretary came under fire from no less than Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was a human rights lawyer in the past. Binay reminded the lady official that her pronouncement was premature because it is the court which should declare Ms. Tuason a state witness following court rules and not the Justice Secretary or the Ombudsman. Even administration ally, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of Cavite, who is a lawyer-accountant, complained against the premature announcement, even Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, a bar topnotcher, cautioned the prosecutors on Tuason’s affidavit and statements.
There is indeed a need to be circumspect about the development involving Ruby Tuason. While she maybe making so many declarations this early, she may yet turn the course around in the middle of the road for the prosecution that could scuttle the cases against the senators and former lawmakers and their staff. The people deserve
justice on the pork barrel scam but should be wary about premature pronouncements that may tend to influence the case, whether favorably or unfavorably.