Cunanan a weak witness?
MANILA, Philippines – Pork barrel scam witness Dennis Cunanan takes the stand.
Claiming he did not benefit from the corruption scandal, the first government official to testify faces a barrage of questions from senators.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: If you had no participation in the kickback scam at the TRC, are you calling these 7 whistleblowers as liars?
DENNIS CUNANAN, POTENTIAL STATE WITNESS: Hindi po. (No, I’m not.)
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Natutuwa ka tinawag kang liar? (Do you like being called a liar? )
BENHUR LUY, PRINCIPAL WHISTLEBLOWER: Hindi po. (No, I don’t.)
Potential pork barrel scam state witness Dennis Cunanan faces the Senate but his answers raise more questions. The Technology Resource Center chief says he never benefitted from the scam. The problem is - the prosecution’s star witness says he did.
BENHUR LUY, PRINCIPAL WHISTLEBLOWER: Mrs Napoles instructed me to prepare P960,000. Dinala ko sa conference room. Di ako personally nakipag-usap, I handed it to Evelyn de Leon sa conference room. Yung senior ko si Mam Evelyn de Leon, siya ang nakipag usap kay SIr Dennis Cunanan. Actually ang tawag namin sa aknay Sir Decu.
DENNIS CUNANAN, POTENTIAL STATE WITNESS: Nirerecollect nga po namin ang situation. Most likely na may chance na may once na part ng inspection na ginagawa namin sa mga institution na nag-iimplement. (On recollecting the situation, most likely there’s a chance that visiting the JLN office was once part of an inspection we did on the implementing agencies.)
Senator Grace Poe finds this hard to believe. She points out Cunanan did not mention the meeting in Napoles’ office in his affidavit. She says the meeting also contradicts Cunanan’s past media statements denying that he ever met the alleged scam mastermind.
GRACE POE, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: So hindi kayo sigurado, 'maari' sabi mo? Hindi mo matandaan ang pagpunta sa JLN? So ano ang nangyari sa pera na sinasabi ni Benhur Luy na naibigay daw dapat sa inyo, hindi 'nyo natanggap 'yun? (So you’re not sure? You say “it’s possible”? You don’t remember visiting the JLN office? So what happened to the money Benhur Luy said should have gone to you? You didn’t receive it?)
DENNIS CUNANAN, POTENTIAL STATE WITNESS: Your honor, hindi po. (No, your honor. I didn’t.)
Poe pursues a tough line of questioning, pointing out inconsistencies in Cunanan’s statements, background and connections.
Cunanan admits he was appointed executive director of the Commission on Higher Education during the Arroyo administration even without a college diploma.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago too, rejects Cunanan’s claims of innocence. Using a line from an Oscar-winning song Santiago says he cannot evade liability.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Sabi ko sa iyo let it go! ( I told you, let it go!) You keep on insisting you are innocent. This is not a hearing about you. This is an inquiry in aid of legislation. Gusto natin isara ang butas sa sistema. (We want to close the holes in our system.) I debate you on this issue you keep repeating you were only undertaking ministerial duty. Ministerial has no immunity from suit. Drop this argument.
Senators warn Justice Secretary Leila de Lima against accepting witnesses without testing their credibility.
GRACE POE, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: Hindi ko sinasabi na perpekto ang testimonya ng iba, pero may pag-amin na malinaw at may boluntaryong pagsasauli. Sana naman, may kasabihan nga, 'wag tayo sanang mapuwing sa sarili nating alikabok or tamaan ng sarili nating kidlat. ( I'm not saying the other witnesses' testimonies are perfect, but there is a clear admission and voluntary forfeiture. I hope, as the saying goes, we don't hurt our eyes by our own dust motes or get hit by our own lightning)
The senators say they will leave it up to the Department of Justice to resolve the contradictions between Luy and Cunanan’s testimonies.
De Lima says Cunanan’s testimony is needed to secure the conviction of the top players in the scam. But can the prosecution achieve that victory while undermining its star witness?The curious case of Dennis Cunanan renews questions about how the government is handling the country’s biggest corruption scandal as taxpayers get more impatient for justice. Ayee Macaraig, Rappler. – Rappler.com