Editorial: Tuason’s testimony

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Friday, February 14, 2014


TUASON, identified as ousted president Joseph Estrada’s social secretary and a self-confessed go-between for two senators in the pork barrel scam “masterminded” by Janet Lim-Napoles, was seen on national television during a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.

That gave the public a chance to assess her demeanor and her testimony while being grilled by some senators.

Early on, Tuason’s surfacing and the initial information on the nature of her testimony sparked conflicting reactions from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

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De Lima described what Tuason divulged as “slamdunk evidence.” But Binay, an ally of the two senators who were hit by Tuason’s testimony, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, described Tuason’s testimony as a “dud” and questioned the plan to turn her into state witness.

Yesterday, two senators were upbeat about Tuason and her testimony.

“This is the first testimony from someone who personally handed kickbacks to a senator...That's a three-point shot, a buzzer beater,” said Blue Ribbon Committee chair Teofisto Guingona III.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who had tangled with Enrile on certain issues, noted: “This is categorical and eyewitness evidence. It does not necessarily need corroboration. I would call it bull's eye evidence, dahil siya ang nakakita mismo.”

But Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV considered as inadequate Tuason’s testimony because of her tendency to play it safe and her refusal to dwell into the specifics of some of her claims.

Trillanes had tangled with Enrile when the latter was Senate president and Tuason, who dealt mainly with lawyer Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, Enrile’s former chief-of-staff, had refused to categorically state that she believed the money she delivered to Reyes went to the latter’s boss.

What this shows is that biases seem to be guiding the assessment of Tuason and her testimony. This places a bigger burden on the Office of the Ombudsman, which is expected to evaluate Tuason’s testimony objectively before deciding on whether to make her state witness or not.

The problem is that it may take months before the anti-graft office could file the plunder and other graft cases with the Sandiganbayan and rule on Tuason’s status.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 14, 2014.

Opinion

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