Blue Ribbon defers anew Malampaya Fund scam hearing

Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate Blue Ribbon committee has deferred anew its hearing on the Malampaya Fund scam scheduled for this Thursday.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said he took up the matter with Blue Ribbon committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona III because it would fall on the same day as the ongoing probe into the allegedly overpriced parking building in Makati City.

Guingona explained that the postponement of the Malampaya hearing was due to the unavailability of Commission on Audit Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan and the head of the special audit team.

The hearing this Thursday on the Makati parking building issue would be the sixth and based on a statement from former Makati City general services division head Mario Hechanova, who testified at one of the hearings, a new witness would come forward to testify in the inquiry.

The ongoing hearing deals with the allegedly overpriced parking building constructed by the city government of Makati when Vice President Jejomar Binay was the city mayor.

Former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado and Hechanova both testified that the biddings for infrastructure projects were rigged and that Binay got kickbacks from these undertakings.

Pimentel, chairman of the Blue Ribbon sub-committee, is conducting the inquiry.

In the Malampaya Fund scam, the issue is tied to the pork barrel scam involving businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, who allegedly received some P900 million of these funds supposed to go to the areas affected by typhoons.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, currently detained after being charged with plunder in the pork barrel scam case, has been pushing for the immediate conduct of the Malampaya Fund scam hearing.

Estrada said that Ruby Tuason, social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, should be summoned to the hearing to explain her role in the scam.

He previously claimed that Tuason received close to P250 million in kickbacks from the Malampaya Fund scam and that she could “very well have been the brains” behind it.

He claimed that Tuason’s take from the scam was used to finance her mansion in Dasmariñas Village in Makati City, which he dubbed as the Malampaya Mansion.

Apart from this, he claimed that Tuason also set up Rubysons Corp., an P80-million capitalized corporation supposed to be engaged in micro-business activities and a high-end jewelry store within a hotel.

Estrada said Tuason also owned several properties, including one at the Las Vegas Country Club; a $150,000 property in Oakland, California; another in Henderson, Nevada; Kawayan Cove in Cavite; and townhouses in Alabang and Valle Verde.

Tuason was admitted to the Witness Protection Program of the government after testifying against Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile on the pork barrel scam.

However, the Department of Justice explained that Tuason’s immunity from suit was limited only to the pork barrel scam and not the Malampaya Fund scam.      

ALABANG AND VALLE VERDE AQUILINO PIMENTEL AUDIT CHAIRMAN MA BLUE RIBBON DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ERNESTO MERCADO AND HECHANOVA ESTRADA AND SEN MAKATI CITY MALAMPAYA FUND SCAM TUASON
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