I’m surprised that nobody, except our columnist Emeterio Perez (in his column last Monday), thought of the implications of the amount of money accuser Ruby Chan Tuason said was her take for delivering to Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile kickbacks from their pork barrel.
Tuason—under oath—testified that her “commission” from her participation in the scam was P40 million.
She even boasted she would surrender this amount to the treasury, although she said she first had to sell her mansion in Dasmariñas Village in Makati—her “only asset,” she claimed—in order to raise that kind of money. (ABS-CBN, however, last November reported about documents showing she bought a townhouse in Las Vegas for P6 million in 2008, which she then sold to her son in September 2013.)
She testified—under oath—that the P40 million represented her 5% share in corrupt senators’ kickbacks that she personally delivered to them. She even joked that her commission should have been 10% but alleged scam brains Janet Napoles imposed her own “5% withholding tax.”
The scam that generated the kickbacks involved lawmakers’ directing their pork barrel allocations (the nickname for the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or PDAF) to fake NGOs controlled by Napoles, who siphoned those funds, and gave 40% to 50% of these, according to her former employee Benhur Luy, to the conniving senators and congressmen.
Simple arithmetic on the 5% commission would show that she is claiming that the senators got kickbacks of P800 million from their PDAF.
But she mentioned giving the dirty money only to Senators Estrada and Enrile.
In Estrada’s case, she testified that she delivered kickback money two times: once in a small duffel bag and the second time in a carry-on suitcase with rollers. She also testified that she gave cash to Estrada that fit in her handbag, which she said would contain a maximum of P1 million in P1,000 bills. She didn’t say though how many times she gave Estrada such P1 million tranches.
It wasn’t clear in what kind of bag she put the cash in the sole instance she delivered money to Enrile, through his chief of staff Jessica Reyes.
So in her testimony, she in effect claimed that she delivered P800 million in three bags to the two senators, in three instances.
Could these three bags contain a total of P800 million pesos?
Impossible. If the cash were in P1,000 bills, each weighing 1 gram, each of the three bags Tuason delivered to the two senators containing P266 million each would weigh 266 kilos. That would have been physically impossible for her to carry and wouldn’t in the first place fit in the bags she described. (For an idea of how much this would weigh, consider that the airlines’ maximum allowable economy-class check-in luggage is 20 kilos.)
Would anybody in her or his right mind carry and transport from a Dasmariñas home to Manila even P50 million in cash without a team of Armalite-wielding security men, and without using an armored vehicle?
But she could have delivered the money to the senators several, maybe, many times?
She could have, but she didn’t testify so in the Senate hearing. She specifically related the details of her delivery of the money to the two senators in only three instances.
Therefore, she most probably delivered money to other senators, which she did not disclose.
The expose by the Commission on Audit of the massive pork-barrel scam is the most significant attack on corruption this country has ever seen.
It has been debased, though, and turned into President Aquino’s political weapon. This was done by the COA, the so-called “whistleblowers” under the control of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and the Aquino-controlled Senate committee hearing, all of which have been selective in their investigation, accusing only opposition senators and just three token administration congressmen.
History, I’m sure, will judge this episode in our nation’s life not as an epic game-changing battle against corruption. History will judge it as the debasement of our nation’s yearning for a graft-free government into a program of partisanship and political persecution.
The latest chapter of this episode only confirms such partisanship.
Tuason, given her disclosure that she got P40 million as her share, couldn’t have given the P800 million kickback only to Estrada and Enrile. She was mum on whom else she gave kickbacks to, and the Blue Ribbon Committee members didn’t even try to extract more of such information from her.
It’s disgusting how Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, fawned over Tuason, portrayed her as a heroine, and nearly kissed her on the cheek as she congratulated her after the hearing.
Didn’t the thought pass Guingona’s skull that Tuason didn’t get 5 percent of the pork-barrel kickback—P40 million—just as a delivery girl? Or is this a class thing, another reflection of our caste system, that the rich involved in a crime can just rat on their co-conspirators, and they will be treated as heroines?
For Napoles to have given her such huge amount—and even Tuason described her as tightfisted in sharing her loot—she had to play a big part in the scam, most likely by convincing Estrada, Enrile, and the still unnamed other senators that they could get away with the crime and by following up the release of the pork-barrel money in their offices and in the budget department.
If we had more intelligent members of the Blue Ribbon Committee—the likes of pre-martial law Blue Ribbon chairman Senator Jose Diokno—or if we had senators without their own agendas, they would have grilled her after she claimed she got a P40 million commission, to get her to reveal who else did she deliver the dirty money to.
But we have an unprepared and partisan Blue Ribbon Committee chairman who simply asked Tuason to verbalize her affidavit in front of the TV, who just kept saying “I see, I see” in the hearing, and who used that ‘three-point shot” basketball metaphor to publicly portray his colleague guilty as hell—as if all of these were just another kind of game.