UNLIKELY HEROINE IN MANILA’S PDAF, ANTI-CORRUPTION BATTLES

UNLIKELY HEROINE IN MANILA’S PDAF, ANTI-CORRUPTION BATTLES

Socialite Ruby Tuason, former social secretary of Manila mayor Joseph Estrada when he was president, admitted receiving P40 million in “commissions” from corrupt PDAF transactions that Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada coursed through the fake or non-existent NGOs set up by alleged PDAF brains Janet Napoles.

Without hesitation, she made this admission before the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing yesterday, February 13, as it continued its probe into the country’s single largest and most high-profile corruption case.

Without any hesitation, Tuason also offered to return this P40 million to the Filipino people who were deprived of this substantial sum. This substantial sum can certainly buy large quantities of medicine for the poorest of the poor who are brought to public hospitals or build new classrooms in super typhoon Yolanda-ravaged areas in Leyte and Samar.

Without mincing any word, she declared she would have to sell her only house in Manila just to raise this P40 million – “a small price to pay”, in her own words, for righting the wrong that she has done to her people.

On top of all these, she willingly agreed to testify against people whom she described as close friends, specifically Gigi Reyes, the former chief of staff and rumored lover of Enrile, and the latter, as well as Jinggoy, a member of the Estrada family with which she has close ties.

She admitted that going up against powerful politicians in the Philippines could cost her life. But dying is the least of her concerns, she asserted before the Senate hearing.
“I’d rather die than go to prison,” she said when asked by one of the senators how she would react if the government rejects her plea to become a state witness against Enrile and Estrada.

Rather than be hounded by her conscience and the shame that she has brought to her grandchildren and family with her wrongdoing, she said she decided to right the wrong that she has committed – even if this would cost her her life. And so, she flew back to Manila recently from the US where she fled right after news broke about the PDAF scam last year.

It was all straightforward declaration, a candid and humble admission of the wrong that she has done and quiet but uncanny display of courage as she bravely launches a massive battle with two of the country’s most powerful politicians.

Tuason gamely disclosed in her sworn testimony that she personally handed corruption monies in various occasions from Napoles to Estrada and to Reyes, which she assumed was in turn passed on to Enrile.

Her declaration is critically important in the Senate and government probes into the PDAF anomaly, according to senator TG Guingona who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee. Why so? “For the first time, someone has testified that PDAF kickback monies have been given to some senators. So, Tuason’s testimony is very, very important in this regard as it strongly supports the plunder charges against some senators and others implicated in the PDAF scam. Her testimony is just like a three-point shot [in basketball],” he said.

In doing what she has done so far, Tuason immediately got thrust into the Filipino consciousness as a modern-day heroine despite her frailties. She joins Benhur Luy, former key aide of Napoles, and the rest of the Napoles staff who turned whistleblowers in undertaking a brave and heroic act worth admiration and emulation by Pinoys across the country and overseas.

Everyone commits mistakes, even very serious and damning errors in life. But there is always an opportunity for redemption – if one chooses to right the wrong that he or she has committed, even under pains of harm or death.

Tuason is one of them. Luy and her co-whistleblowers in the PDAF scam, Jun Lozada of the scrapped ZTE/NBN deal during the time of Gloria Arroyo and other whistleblowers are the others. OFWs who battle great odds abroad for a better, more secure future for their loved ones back home also join Tuason and company.

They are among the country’s modern-day heroes.

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