MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Dennis Cunanan and principal whistleblower Benhur Luy clashed on whether or not the Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general received kickbacks in the pork barrel scam.
The issue of commissions was the first question Cunanan faced in the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Thursday, March 6.
Senator Francis Escudero asked Cunanan and principal whistleblower Benhur Luy about their contradicting statements. In his Sept 12, 2013 affidavit, Luy said he saw Cunanan accept commissions but Cunanan denied this in his February 20, 2014 sworn statement. (READ: PDAF scam: 5 questions on Dennis Cunanan)
“Kung meron ako (kickback), bakit ‘di ko gagawin ngayon (return it now)? Ang daling gawin. Sa konsensya ko, mahirap umamin ng ‘di totoo,” Cunanan said, pausing as he turned emotional. (If I got kickbacks, why won’t I turn them over now? It’s so easy to do. In my conscience, it’s so hard to admit something that is not true.)
Cunanan asked why he even went to the lengths of verifying lawmakers’ signatures through phone calls, and blacklisting questionable NGOs when he became TRC chief if he indeed received kickbacks from alleged scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
He raised questions about the claims of Luy and the whistleblowers’ camp.
“Ito ang sabi ng abogado ko na sa organisasyon nila, may bukulan nang nangyayari.” (This is what my lawyer is saying that in their organization, there are already problems happening.)
In his opening statement, blue ribbon chair TG Guingona said Cunanan should give a truthful and complete testimony.
Yet Luy said Cunanan visited Napoles’ JLN Corporation office in Discovery Suites, Ortigas, a visit Cunanan did not disclose in his affidavit.
Luy said Napoles then asked him to prepare money for a meeting in the office with Napoles’ employee Evelyn de Leon and Cunanan.
Luy said he was not the one who personally talked to and handed the paper bag containing money to Cunanan but he saw the then TRC deputy director-general carrying the paper bag after the meeting.
“Ms Napoles instructed me to prepare P960,000. Dinala ko sa conference room. Di ako personally nakipag-usap [kay Cunanan], binigay ko kay Evelyn de Leon sa conference room. (I brought it to the conference room. I did not personally talk to Cunanan. I gave the money to Evelyn de Leon in the conference roon.)”
Luy also said that the pork barrel scam case is about the Filipino people, and not any single person or government office involved in it.
“This case is not me, not DOJ. This is the case of the taumbayan (people). Di ito (this is) not the case of Benhur Luy, Levi Baligod or current counsel,” he said.
Asked how he felt about Cunanan’s testimony, Luy said he stood by his statement but accepting witnesses is up to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Senators Grace Poe and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III cited the contradicting testimonies in cautioning De Lima about accepting Cunanan as provisional state witness.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III said he will leave it up to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “thresh out” the inconsistencies in Cunanan’s testimony.
Cunanan is the first government official to testify on the multi-billion peso scam. He said he talked to Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada over the phone, with the two even admonishing him for supposedly “delaying” the release of their pork barrel funds for the Napoles NGOs.
The two senators flatly denied the charge. – Rappler.com