DOJ to probe Mat Ranillo III in PDAF scam

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) will be investigating veteran actor Mat Ranillo III for his alleged links to the controversial multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, after the actor was tagged by potential state witness Ruby Tuason in her sworn statement

In an ambush interview Wednesday, February 12, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Ranillo and the other people mentioned in Tuason's affidavit are "being looked into."

"Because that's our duty, to investigate new information provided by this new whistleblower, by the new state witness, ay kelangan namin i-pursue (sic)," De Lima said. (Because that's our duty, to investigate new information provided by this new whistleblower, by the new state witness. We need to pursue.)

Tuason is currently under the custody of the DOJ Witness Protection Program (WPP). Her testimony will be subject to further evaluation to determine if she can be given immunity from prosecution.

Tuason, in her 15-page affidavit, tagged Ranillo as the person who delivered what was supposed to be Senator Jinggoy Estrada's commission from the illegal siphoning of the lawmaker's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). 

"I handed over all those money personally to Senator Jinggoy Estrada, but for reasons known only to Senator Jinggoy Estrada, that transaction was cancelled and so Senator Jinggoy Estrada caused the return of the Php5,700,000.00 in cash and then I turned it over to Janet Napoles," she said.

But the money eventually landed in the hands of Ranillo who delivered it to the house of socialite Justa Tantoco, Tuason revealed in her affidavit. Tuason alluded to a P11.9-million transaction shown in the records of whistleblower Benhur Luy.

"Based on the accounting record of Benhur Luy (Annex C of Joint Affidavit), the aforesaid transaction was consummated through a certain Mr Matt Ranillo showing the delivery of the sum of Php11,970,000.00 to a house at No. 1564 Mahogany Street, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City," she said.

At the Senate on Wednesday, Estrada acknowledged that he knew Tantoco and Ranillo – the former, a close friend of his mother; the latter, because he's a fellow actor – but said he never had any transactions with them

Evidence of cash vouchers

Luy, the primary whistleblower in the plunder case against alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles, previously said color-coded vouchers were used in the illegal transactions.

Proof of the existence of these vouchers surfaced upon the rediscovery of documents used as evidence in an old civil case involving Ranillo III. 

"Di ba if you recall there was this case, a civil case na nakakuha kami ng ebidensya na proof na may voucher talaga, na sinasabi ni Benur used to be meron silang copy [of] certain vouchers na color code pa nga? Kaya lang sabi ni [Benhur] pina-shredder ni Ms Napoles," De Lima said.

(If you recall, there was this case, a civil case where we obtained evidence that there were really vouchers that Benhur described as color-coded. But Benhur said Ms Napoles ordered them to be shredded.)

"When we got wind of that case involving Mat Ranillo, which involves recovery of sums of money in relation to certain transactions, akalain nyo....may copy of vouchers na doon. So that supports the claim of whistleblowers that [there] were certain transaction na may actually cash voucher," de Lima added.

(When we got wind of that case involving Mat Ranillo III, which involves the recovery of sums of money in relation to certain transaction, just imagine... There were copies of vouchers there. So that supports the claim of whistleblowers that there were certain transactions that actually had cash vouchers.)

Senate hearing

De Lima said the involvement of Tantoco, at whose house Tuason said Ranillo allegedly delivered cash, will be further explored during the Senate hearing scheduled Thursday, February 13

"Perhaps if that is explored or pursued tomorrow in the Senate hearing, baka may sagot tayong asahan," she said (Perhaps if that is explored or pursued tomorrow in the Senate hearing, we can expect an answer.)

De Lima earlier said Tuason "would have no choice, because precisely that is one of her undertakings under the WPP provisional admission, that she binds herself to cooperate and participate in any proper proceedings related to these cases."

"She often invited me to parties and I frequented her condominium in the Pacific Plaza upon her invitation for lunch," said Tuason of her relationship with Napoles. – Rappler.com