TRC chief applies for state witness in pork barrel scam
NABCOR officials may also apply for state witness: sources
MANILA (1st UPDATE) - After Ruby Tuason, another respondent in the "pork barrel" scam cases has come forward and applied to turn state witness under the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Dennis L. Cunanan, Director General of the Technology Resource Center (TRC), executed a 36-page affidavit with the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday, directly implicating co-respondents Sen. Bong Revilla and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada to the scam, and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, allegedly through his former chief of staff, Atty. Gigi Reyes.
Cunanan was Deputy Director General of the Technology Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), now TRC, from 2004 up to 2010. The charges against the three senators covered their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations for 2007 to 2009, based on a Commission on Audit (COA) report.
Speaking to reporters in a news conference, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Cunanan was offering to share information regarding the involvement of the three senators and several congressmen with "bogus" NGOs identified with businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles even before the filing of the first batch of "pork barrel" cases last September 2013.
According to De Lima, Cunanan claims that Revilla, Estrada, and Enrille channelled portions of the their PDAF specifically to "Napoles NGOs."
"Mahalaga po yung kanyang testimonya dahil sa unang pagkakataon mayroon hong someone from one of the implementing agencies na ang sinasabi po ngayon ay hindi totoo yung mga sinasabi po ng tatlong senador (Revilla, Estrada, Enrile) sa kanilang respective counter-affidavits na wala silang kinalaman sa pagpipili ng NGOs.
"Yung ganoong mga depensa ng tatlong senador sa kanilang mga affidavit ay being flatly debunked or denied by Mr. Cunanan in his sworn statement... ang sinasabi po ni Mr. Cunanan ngayon ay supported by documents. Dati na rin namin itong sinubmit sa supporting affidavits of our witnesses [from COA]: letter endorsements ng mga senators - hindi lang yung request to the Senate President or the chair of the Senate Finance Committee for the identification of the projects kundi yung endorsement mismo ng NGOs -SAROs, MOAs, project summaries, and project proposals, na mayroon ding kopya ang TRC," De Lima said.
This is the reason why it took time for the DOJ to approve Cunanan's WPP application, De Lima pointed out. The WPP required Cunanan to supply documentary evidence to supply his claims, which later "jibed" with the COA documents, she added.
PRESSURED TO RELEASE THE FUNDS
Cunanan claimed he was even "pressured" and "admonished" by Revilla and Estrada via phone to release the funds for the Napoles NGO's. This allegedly took place when he would call their offices in the Senate to confirm the endorsement letters and signatures.
"Both Senators Revilla and Estrada insisted that the TRC should honor their choice of the NGO, which they selected to implement the projects, since the projects were funded from their PDAF. They both asked me to ensure that TRC would immediately act on and approve their respective projects.
"I was certain I was talking to said Senators because I recognized their respective voices, which I am familiar with since they were both actors and public personalities whose voices I have frequently heard and I am very familiar with," Cunanan said on page 5 of his affidavit.
Atty. Reyes would give the confirmation on behalf of Enrile, Cunanan pointed out.
"I also remember a time when the staff at TRC requested me to verify and/or confirm with the Office of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile the authority of his supposed authorized signatories, Atty Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes and Atty. Jose Antonio Evangelista, as well as the authenticity of their signatures in the documents submitted in support of his request to release part of his PDAF funds to an NGO, which Sen. Enrile has chosen.
"[S]he (Reyes) confirmed with me that she and Atty Evangelista were duly authorized by Senator Enrile," Cunanan said on page 4 of his affidavit.
PRESIDENT'S ALLIES CHANNELED PORK TO NAPOLES NGOs, TOO
Allies of Pres. Aquino, former customs chief Ruffy Biazon, who served as Muntinlupa congressman, and former CIBAC party-list Rep. now TESDA chief Joel Villanueva, were also named in Cunanan's affidavit as among congressmen who channelled their PDAF to NAPOLES NGOs.
Biazon already faces raps in connection with the scam for allegedly receiving P1.95 million in kickbacks from Napoles.
Villanueva is now being investigated, De Lima said.
According to ABS-CBN News sources, officials of another implementing agency, National Agri-Business Corp (NABCOR), also intend to turn witness for the state in the PDAF cases.