Rappler Newscast | February 13, 2014
Today on Rappler.
- Ruby Tuason testifies she gave money directly to Senator Jinggoy Estrada but not to Senator Enrile.
- US Navy’s Admiral Greenert assures the Philippines of support against China’s maritime aggression.
- Belgium faces protests as it extends its euthanasia law to terminally-ill children.
Story 1: TUASON’S TESTIMONY STRONG ENOUGH TO INCRIMINATE?
Provisional state witness Ruby Tuason faces the Senate Thursday.
She drops incriminating information about Sen Jinggoy Estrada’s involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: I was once willing to stand death row because of my trust in his family but I now risk my life only for the Philippines.
Socialite Ruby Tuason turns her back on Senator Jinggoy Estrada…
implicating her close family friend to the biggest corruption scandal.
For the first time, a witness tells the Senate she was the “go-between” of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles and two of the country’s highest officials.
Tuason says Estrada initially did not want to deal with Napoles but the woman’s offer of 40% commission was too hard to resist.
She got her own cut of 5% or less.
Tuason says in 2004 and 2008, she gave Estrada his kickbacks right at his San Juan home and Senate office.
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: Mabigat po ang pera. Hindi ko kayang (Money is heavy. I can’t) … I have something wrong with my spine. I don’t really carry…I delivered here in Senate before.
TG GUINGONA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Was it one occasion or several occasions?
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: I think I did it at least twice, used hand carry bag, may gulong (with wheels). Pag medyo ano, we put it in duffel bag. Pag medyo marami, duffel bag this big. Pag maliit, minsan sa bag lang, pag mga P2M lang. (If there’s a lot of cash, we put it in a duffel bag. If there’s not too much, if there’s just around P2 million, we just put it in a bag.)
She identifies Estrada’s two security aides who met her at the Senate basement to avoid inspection.
Tuason responds to his claim that she only came forward because he rejected her request for money.
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: I only wanted to see how far he would go. After all, I just got a commission. He got the bulk. If I am the extortionist he claims me to be, why did I offer to return the assets acquired from arrangements with Mrs. Napoles.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago calls Tuason a perfect state witness.
She contrasts her eyewitness evidence with the denials of Estrada and her nemesis Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: That is, in the words of the Secretary of Justice - a slam dunk evidence, or in my own words, that is bull's eye evidence. Kitang-kita mo siya di ba. Huling-huli siya. (You see it straight through.) Denial like alibi, as an exonerating justification is weak and if uncorroborated regresses to blatant impotence. Blatant na, impotent pa. Lalo kung matanda na! (Not only is it blatant, it’s impotent! Especially if you’re old!)
While Tuason directly points to Estrada, she says she never talked to Enrile about his pork barrel.
She only gave money to his former chief of staff Gigi Reyes at the Senate and restaurants.
Enrile’s critics try to pin him down.
ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Alam ba ni Enrile mga transaksyon ninyo with Atty. Gigi Reyes? (Did Enrile know about your transactions with Gigi?)
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: Sa dami ho nito, siguro meron siyang inkling. (With the number of transactions we had, he must have had an inkling.)
ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, PHILIPPINE SENATOR:Inkling?! Yun ang sinasabi ko. I admire your courage pero nandiyan na kayo eh. (That’s what I’m saying. I admire your courage but you’re here now)
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: I can only presume.
ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: You presume na alam niya? (You presume he knows?)
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: Yes
ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: That's good enough.
Senators say Tuason's testimony is strong enough to incriminate Estrada in what could be his second plunder case.
But without records, specific dates and amounts in Tuason's testimony, the prosecution will have to work harder to ensure Estrada does not go scot free again.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler.
Story 2: WHAT DRIVES RUBY TUASON?
She left the country a socialite and came back a state witness.
Just who exactly is Ruby Tuason, and what role did she play in what many call institutionalized corruption?
Natashya Gutierrez reports.
Mostly calm and collected, sometimes emotional, but mostly willing to talk, middleman turned whistleblower Ruby Tuason faces the Senate and shares what she knows about the pork barrel scam.
Her testimony is as intriguing as she is.
Filipinos get a closer look into the scam's intricacies and into the woman who is a key witness to the country's biggest corruption scandal.
Tuason, a socialite, is tough as nails.
She was married to the late Butch Tuason, the first cousin of former first gentleman Mike Arroyo.
When she caught him cheating on her, she fought back - much like she is doing now.
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: When I caught my husband I burned all his clothes, all his things, I burned it all. All his hundred something Italian shoes, all his suits, everything!
Because of what I did, they were so shocked, I also myself was shocked because I never did that before.
TG GUINGONA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Delikado ka pala magalit. (You’re not someone to be crossed.)
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS:TUASON: Buti nga hindi siya ang sinunog ko. (He’s lucky I didn’t burn him.)
Tuason was the go-between of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
She personally delivered cash to Estrada, kickbacks worth millions of pesos which he allegedly received for channeling his Priority Development Assistance Fund to Napoles' fake non- organizations.
Tuason considered Estrada a friend. So when the scam broke out she asked him for help.
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: Hindi ako humingi ng pera sa kanya. Humingi ako ng tulong. Siguro suporta or what. I wanted to see how far he would go. After all I only got a small commission he got the bulk. (I never asked Jinggoy for money but I asked him for help. Support, maybe.
GRACE POE, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: So ano pong tulong ang ninanais ninyong ibigay sa inyo? (What type of help?)
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: At least maalalayan ako for a lawyer, mga ganun. (At least help me with a lawyer.)
She says she now knows her biggest mistake.
GRACE POE, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Noong kayo’y nagpapakilala ng mga tao, may komisyon doon siguro matagal na rin na kalakaran sa gobyerno alam ninyo na may anomalya kahit papano? (When you were linking people together, there was commission. This must have been going on for a long time in the government so you must have known there was an anomaly.)
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: My problem was I sacrificed my values for friendship.
Tuason left the country in August after she was implicated in the Napoles scam.
She admits she earned commission for being a middleman.
She came back to the country in February to come clean.
The keeper of secrets for powerful men and the beneficiary of P40 million in corruption money, Tuason's explains why she decided to tell-all.
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: My grandchildren would always call me, Skype. And then they'd call me and ask me, when are you coming home? After a while of talking to them and I was really missing them, I was feeling so guilty, I actually felt like I was Judas Iscariot. I said this is how Judas Iscariot must have felt with what he did, so I said, hindi ko na kaya ito (I can’t do this). I don't want to die with 80 million Filipinos hating me. I don't want to die with my grandchildren being ashamed of me. So I felt I had to do something, I had to correct my mistake, I cannot correct my wrong with another wrong.
Tuason is a provisional state witness for now until the Ombudsman evaluates the weight of her testimony.
Blunt and honest with both the Senate and herself, she says she will not survive jail.
RUBY TUASON, PORK BARREL SCAM WITNESS: It’s okay. I'd rather die. I know I will, I’ll probably get a heart attack or high blood. I am hypertensive.
She may not have to worry.
Senators praise her courage for coming forward and most senators agree her testimony is crucial, since she is the first to admit she personally delivered money to a lawmaker.
Loyal friend, vengeful ex-wife, loving grandmother.
These are the many faces of Ruby Tuason.
But by coming forward she wants only to be remembered by history and the country by one identity: remorseful witness.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.
Story 3: ESTRADA: TUASON DELIVERED SANDWICHES, NOT CASH
Senator Jinggoy Estrada admits meeting with Ruby Tuason, but denies receiving bags of money from her.
In her testimony, Tuason says she personally delivered kickbacks to Estrada in his office at the Senate and at his home in Greenhills.
Tuason also identifies two of Estrada's staff members who escorted her to the senator’s office:
Alfredo de los Reyes, Estrada’s personal driver, and a certain "Tani,” a member of Estrada’s security team.
Estrada admits having Tuason escorted to his office, but says she brought him sandwiches, not bags of cash.
He also downplays Tuason’s Senate testimony, saying it was “obvious” from her body language that she did not recall the events she was narrating.
Estrada adds, “If she is really telling the truth, why can’t she recall such instances from her own memory?
Mrs. Tuason is merely being fed all these information.”
The senator says Tuason is coming clean because he didn't help her out when she asked for money after the pork barrel scandal broke out.
Story 4: SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY
For our social media post of the day, Ruby Tuason filled in many of the blanks in the pork barrel scam saga, triggering a host of reactions - from empathy to disbelief.
Kenneth Vincent Agustin says, “All the state witnesses deserve our support. They too sinned against the people but doing something about it... to make things right should not be questioned. Life is too precious to be at stake and yet, they chose the right path.”
But despite praise from senators and citizens for stepping forward, some remain skeptical about Tuason’s intentions.
Brad Anzinas says, “It’s just like a prison inmate who "finds God" after being sentenced. Had she not been caught she'd still... be doing what she was doing even after Yolanda. Just because she's trying to sound Christian doesn't mean that she has regrets.
If anything she regrets being caught and is now trying to play the role of a saint.”
Story 5: THE FUTURE OF THE RH LAW
It took nearly 14 years for the controversial Reproductive Health Bill to become law.
The RH Law requires sex education in public schools and provides contraception to the poor in public health centers.
After petitions from critics calling the law anti-life, the Supreme Court stopped the implementation of the law.
Pro-RH advocate Junice Melgar says prolonging the law’s suspension will cost the lives of mothers.
JUNICE MELGAR, LIKHAAN CO-FOUNDER: And when women’s lives are lost, their family loses a pillar… poor families especially. There is a lot to lose in terms of life, in terms of the future of children. And when women are lost, society loses a lot.
Melgar says there is a problem with how sex is viewed in the Philippines because of what she says is the Catholic church’s fixation over the negative aspect of human sexuality.
JUNICE MELGAR, LIKHAAN CO-FOUNDER: I think there is a problem if we look at sex in a bad way, that people are ashamed about raising sex, because for many couples especially poor couples. Sexual satisfaction is the only thing they have in mind and if you deprive that it’s like denying their right to joy, also...
But I think the Catholic Church is obsessed with the negative side of sexuality, which is sexual exploitation. And those two are two different things…
For RH critic Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the law compromises the sacredness of the human body.
ARCHBISHOP OSCAR CRUZ, FORMER CBCP JUDICIAL VICAR: Frankly, it is the dignity of the human body, so the sacredness of human sexuality… I am afraid that with this legislation we are becoming more and more appreciative of our persons as man and woman, and therefore in a way too, we become less impressed by the fact that humans sexuality is the source of life.
Cruz also says RH law advocates are too fixated about their rights without understanding their obligations.
ARCHBISHOP OSCAR CRUZ, FORMER CBCP JUDICIAL VICAR: What I wanted to say was, with the RH law, whatever happens to it with the Supreme Court... all of a sudden sex became dangerous... The difficulty with the RH law is that it separates the ‘sarap’ from the ‘hirap.’ (The difficulty with the RH law is that it separates pleasure from pain.)
When asked if there is a middle ground between the law’s advocates and critics, Melgar says the law in itself is one.
JUNICE MELGAR, LIKHAAN CO-FOUNDER: The RH law has been a product of many suggestions by Catholics. President Noy himself suggested 6 or 8 amendments, including 1, that natural family planning should be part of the spectrum of services, that it should be funded, that sex education should be taught at grade 6 not grade 5, that the provision of the norm that there should only be 2 children.. those were deleted... so it’s a product of compromise.”
Story 6: ‘EXPECT STRONGER US MESSAGE VS CHINA AGGRESSION’
The US navy’s chief of operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert is in the Philippines.
He assures the Philippines of American support against China’s aggression in the South China Sea.
Carmela Fonbuena reports.
US chief of naval operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert is the latest in a growing list of officials to sit down with Filipino counterparts.
He says expect stronger US message against China’s aggression.
JONATHAN GREENERT, US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: The preponderance and collection of activity by China has caused us to be more clear on where we stand on this. You know, the ADIZ, the unilateral declaration of extended fishing grounds. It gets so confusing, and maybe worse conflicting with international norms.
The Philippines has one of the weakest militaries in Asia but it is one of the most vocal in challenging China’s aggressiveness, especially inside the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines is now asking for increased presence of US troops here, a request that coincides with the US pivot to Asia.
JONATHAN GREENERT,US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: What does it mean to the Philippines? We’ll be available to operate, to work together to be able to be comfortable with our partnership and going to the direction that we want to.
If push comes to shove, Greenert vows the US will be there to help.
JONATHAN GREENERT, US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: Of course we will help you. We have an obligation because of the treaty.
Greenert reiterates, dialogue is the way to resolve the tension.
JONATHAN GREENERT, US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: Move the dialogue less in the dialogue where we are going to end in confrontation and combat. It doesn’t have to be that way if we use the process we put in place. We should exhaust that.
In April, the different navies will gather in China for the Western Pacific Naval symposium.
The meeting seeks to draw up common protocols that will guide countries in encounters at sea.
JONATHAN GREENERT, US CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS ADMIRAL: I don’t know if I'm optimistic as much as I'm saying we're going to be deliberate. What the heck is this? We need to close this up. All nations seem to disagree except for one.
President Aquino says the Philippine and the US are close to finalizing the bases access deal.
The next round of negotiations happens in March.
All eyes are on the panels if they can finish the deal in time for the Obama’s visit.
Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Manila.
US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the Philippines in April, his final stop in a four-country Asian tour - taking the place of a cancelled visit last October.
Story 070: THE wRap: YOUR WORLD IN ONE READ
At number 3, a deadly ice storm leaves people stranded and cuts power to thousands of homes in the United States.
The national weather service warns a "mammoth dome" of arctic air would settle over the eastern US, creating a "paralyzing ice storm."
In the United Kingdom, flood-hit Britain suffers a fresh battering from storms and high winds that cut power to nearly 150,000 homes and threw transport services into chaos.
At number 8, Women who turn 40 are encouraged to get annual mammography screenings -- but do they help reduce breast cancer at all?
A study in the British Medical Journal says mammogram screenings have --quote-- "absolutely no benefit in terms of reduction of [cancer] deaths."
The Los Angeles Times says the study isn’t expected to change policy but it will add to the heated debate over the value of mammograms.
And at number 9, Belgium faces protests as its parliament prepared to extend a ground-breaking euthanasia law to terminally-ill children.
While surveys show Belgians support the move, the Catholic Church led a day of fasting and prayer to pressure lawmakers to postpone the vote.
Critics say the euthanasia law is unnecessary, and that palliative drugs offer an alternative.
Newscast Production Staff
|EXECUTIVE PRODUCER / WRITER||Lilibeth Frondoso|
|ASSOCIATE PRODUCER / PUBLISHER||Rodneil Quiteles|
|HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER||Katerina Francisco|
|MASTER EDITOR / PLAYBACK||Vicente Roxas|
|TECHNICAL DIRECTOR / CAMERAMAN||Charlie Salazar|
|3D GRAPHICS||Sten Bautista|