Ruby Tuason’s story

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Saturday, February 8, 2014


RUBY Chan Tuason is back in the country. Okay, Ruby Tuason, who?

In the spider web that was the operation of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles to divert billions of pesos in public funds to personal pockets, Tuason was gossamer.

She is among the “other” respondents both in the plunder case filed against Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pdaf) scam and in the plunder case filed against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Malampaya fund scam. That places here in an interesting mix of people.

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But Tuason, whom a newspaper society columnist once described as “refined, well-heeled, with good social graces, a socialite and a fashion plate” and a “very dignified, chic, soignée efficient dynamo,” had for years hobnobbed with the high and the mighty.

Her husband, the late Carlos “Butch” Tuason, was former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman from 1998, under then president Joseph Estrada, until 2002, under then president Arroyo. Ruby herself was appointed by Estrada as social secretary.

The Tuasons were close not only to the Estradas but also to the Arroyos. Butch was first cousin of former First Gentleman Mike. On
hindsight, those links seemed to also have become Ruby’s undoing now.

After going high-profile under the Estrada administration, Ruby would go under the radar. From 2004 until as late as 2011, she was no longer a Malacañang functionary but was a liaison for Jinggoy, Erap’s son, Enrile and the latter’s secretary, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes in a web of corruption involving Napoles.

Whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Marina Sula, who were both employed by Napoles, claimed seeing her when she collected her share from the Pdaf and Malampaya fund and the shares of Estrada and Enrile (through Reyes). The money involved eventually totaled P242 million, said the National bureau of Investigation (NBI) in the cases it filed against Tuason.

Ruby ended up fleeing for the United States (via Hong Kong) on Aug. 26, 2013 as the NBI pried wide open the P10 billion Pdaf scam involving Napoles. The US is not a good place to hide in when you are accused of such a case as plunder because it has an extradition treaty with the Philippines.

Tuason returned to the country yesterday and later submitted the affidavit she executed while in the US that detailed her involvement in the Pdaf and Malampaya fund scams. An ecstatic Justice Secretary Leila de Lima claimed Ruby gave “slamdunk evidence” against Estrada and Enrile.

De Lima confirmed that Tuason is no longer a respondent in the plunder cases and has “provisionally” been admitted to the government’s Witness Protection Program. The Office of the Ombudsman is still evaluating her testimony. In the end, though, it will be the court that will decide whether she is qualified to become a state witness or not.

Based on what Delima and her lawyer, Dennis Manalo, divulged, the contents of her affidavit didn’t offer anything new as far as the Pdaf scam involving Napoles is concerned. She merely strengthened the plunder cases against Estrada and Enrile.

The interesting portion of her affidavit is therefore on the Malampaya fund scam where Delima said she mentioned the name of her “unidentified” principal. The public was given a glimpse of it, though, when Tuason mentioned a former legal counsel of the former First Gentleman.

In the next few days, expect the gossamer to surface on national television during a Senate committee hearing. We will again be hearing the details of how corrupt officials stole billions of pesos from the taxes that we paid to the government. And we will be angry again.

But until when?

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2014.

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