MANILA, Philippines – “May reporma ba talaga o puro porma lang itong si Cunanan?” (Did he really introduce reforms or these were all posturing by Cunanan?)
Senator Jinggoy Estrada branded Technology Resource Center (TRC) chief Dennis Cunanan a liar, saying he never instituted reforms in the agency contrary to his claims.
In an hour-long privilege speech on Wednesday, March 12, Estrada questioned why Cunanan and self-confessed bagman Ruby Tuason became potential state witnesses despite what he called their “polluted and self-serving testimonies.” (READ: Full text: Jinggoy on ‘polluted’ witnesses Cunanan, Tuason and 38 charged in pork barrel scam)
Cunanan – in a recent testimony at the Senate and in a statement after news of the scam broke – claimed that he became director general of the government corporation in 2010, while the scam happened from 2007 to 2009.
He also claimed that, when he discovered that questionable non-governmental organizations were getting lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) through TRC, he stopped the releases of funds and blacklisted these organizations.
Watch the full speech here:
Estrada cited a Commission on Audit (COA) report to debunk Cunanan’s claim that when he assumed leadership of the TRC, he blacklisted NGOs and stopped the release of pork barrel funds.
The senator said from 2010 to 2012, the TRC got pork barrel funds, with the one disbursement in 2012 even amounting P42 million.
“Sabi niya pina-blacklist na niya NGOs. Ano ang ibig sabihin ng pag-release ng pondo sa isang blacklisted NGO? Malakas siguro sa kanya ang mga ito. Si Congressman Carlo Oliver Diasnes at Florencio Noel, gumamit ng blacklisted NGO ng TRC. May reporma ba talaga?”
(He said he blacklisted the NGOs. What does this blacklisting of NGOs and the release of funds mean? Maybe they had a strong influence on him because Congressman Carlo Oliver Diasnes and Florencio Noel were able to use blacklisted NGOs of TRC. Was there really reform?)
Diasnes was Batanes representative, but this was in from 2007 to 2010. He ran and lost as a Lakas candidate in 2010. In 2-13, he ran against the wife of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad in 2013 but lost.
Florencio “Bem” Noel was An Waray representative from 2004 to 2013. He is reportedly close to President Aquino. Although running as independent for mayor of Tacloban City in 2013, Noel was endorsed by the President’s Liberal Party, and no less than presidential sister Kris Aquino campaigned for him.
What audit, affidavits show
A special state audit of the PDAF covering 2007-2009 showed that at least P347.91 million in senators’ funds coursed through TRC were misused by 8 dubious NGOs, some of them linked to alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. (READ: P348-M senators’ pork misused by TRC during Cunanan’s time)
Cunanan was deputy director general during that time, having been appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004. He was retained by President Benigno Aquino III. (READ:
Affidavits by several whistleblowers – all of them former employees of Napoles – show that they transacted with TRC. (READ: Navigating the PDAF scam affidavits)
The principal whistleblower and only state witness so far, Benhur Luy, has said Cunanan had visited Napoles’ office, and in one of the visits he was asked to prepare almost P1 million in a paper bag, which Cunanan carried when he left the office. (READ: Cunanan, Luy clash on kickbacks)
Upon learning this, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she was giving Cunanan a chance to rectify himself. His application to become state witnessed and be spared from a graft case is pending with the department. – Rappler.com