P348-M senators’ pork misused by TRC in Cunanan’s time

The former TRC chief Dennis Cunanan, a co-respondent in a plunder complaint, wants to become state witness. Is he the least guilty?

PROVISIONAL WITNESS. Former TRC chief Dennis Cunanan is the latest addition to the list of witnesses in the pork barrel scam. Photo from www.trc.dost.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines – Former Technology Resource Center (TRC) chief Dennis Cunanan is the latest addition to the list of witnesses in the pork barrel scam.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced on Friday, February 21, that she had accepted Cunanan as a provisional state witness, saying his affidavit is “essential and corroborative” of the testimony of other whistleblowers.

Indeed, Cunanan would know a lot, going by a sworn affidavit of state witness and principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, who identified him as one of the officials who got kickbacks from scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

Cunanan is among the 38 respondents in the plunder complaint filed by the Department of Justice before the Ombudsman on September 16. They are implicated in the systemtic diversion and pocketing of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), coursed through implementing agencies and ending up with fake organizations. (READ: 38 charged in pork barrel scam)

His inclusion in the complaint was based on the Commission on Audit (COA) report, which revealed that TRC is one of the 4 government corporations that have cornered the biggest chunk of pork barrel from 2007 to 2009.

TRC was known then as the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC).

Based on the COA report, P347.91 million in senators’ PDAF alone were misused by 8 NGOs was coursed through TRC.

  • Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. – P127.5 million
  • Juan Ponce Enrile – P77.25 million
  • Gregorio Honasan II – P35.7 million
  • Edgardo Angara – P34.56 million
  • Ralph Recto – P28.4 million
  • Jinggoy Estrada – P22.5 million
  • Manuel Lapid – P22 million

Cunanan had argued that he was appointed as TRC director general by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo only in 2009, and was re-appointed by President Benigno Aquino III in 2010 – years outside the period covered by the COA audit.

He explained that TRC blacklisted during his time 44 NGOs that failed to liquidate the pork barrel released to them.  Eight of these NGOs turned out to be Napoles’ dummies.

Cunanan, however, was the deputy director general before that – as early as 2004. During the period covered by COA’s special audit, funds transferred to NGOs through TRC amounted to P2.432 billion, with P500 million channeled to Napoles NGOs.

State witness Luy – who kept a ledger of commissions given by Napoles to her accomplices and middlemen – said Cunanan was one of the officials who received rebates from the scam mastermind.

Luy explained the split of rebates: 40-50% for lawmakers, 5% for their chiefs-of-staff, 10% for implementing agencies, 1% for NGO presidents.

He added that in the rebates for implementing agencies, 5% goes to the head of agencies, among them TRC’s Cunanan and Antonio Ortiz. (READ: Navigating the PDAF scam affidavits)

Cunanan left the country on September 13, days before he was charged before the Ombudsman, to attend a meeting. He returned to the country the same month.

The profile posted in his website also states he has served as councilor of Magalang in Pampanga, and once became acting vice mayor of his town. – Rappler.com

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