MANILA, Philippines – Besieged Senator Jinggoy Estrada remains confident that he will be able to defend himself in court, even if Ruby Tuason is now a state witness.
Estrada has been indicted for graft and plunder charges in connection to the multi billion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam. He said that he is not surprised that the Office of the Ombudsman has granted immunity to Tuason.
In a phone patch interview, Estrada said that “The only real targets of this persecution from the very beginning are the three senators,” referring to himself, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon Revilla Jr.
The three senators allegedly amassed millions of pesos in kickbacks from their pork barrel funds through non-existent, non-government organizations supposedly set up by Janet Lim-Napoles, using government agencies as channels.
Last month, the Office of the Ombudsman said that they have established probable cause to charge the three senators for plunder, and multiple counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan.
However, in an interview with ANC (All News Channel), Estrada said that If cases are indeed filed at the Sandiganbayan, he will be ready.
“In the unfortunate event that an information will be filed before the Sandiganbayan, I am very confident that we will be victorious in the end and Mrs. Tuason will crumble in the cross-examination,” Estrada said.
Tuason, being once a social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, said that in 2008, she handed in a combined amount of at least P9 million to Senator Estrada. Her testimony also said that at least two of those deliveries were made in the Senate building.
During the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation on the pork barrel scam, senators said Tuason is a perfect witness in the case after hearing her testimonies.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago even told Tuason, “You are a perfect witness, a competent witness, an intelligent witness.”
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Committee chair Teofisto Guingona III also described Tuason’s testimony as a “three-point buzzer beater and winning shot.”
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima as well, said that Tuason’s testimony is “slam dunk evidence.”