Cunanan qualified as witness

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 24 2014 09:21 AM | Updated as of Feb 24 2014 05:21 PM

MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday stood by the credibility of Technology Resource Center (TRC) director-on-leave Dennis Cunanan as state witness in the pork barrel scam.

De Lima said the Department of Justice (DOJ) thoroughly evaluated the statement of Cunanan before approving his provisional inclusion in the witness protection program.

“We’ve done our part in evaluating Cunanan’s testimony. We think he’s qualified as a state witness,” she said in a text message.

The DOJ chief stressed that the testimony of Cunanan would have the same value as that of Ruby Tuason, former social secretary of ex-President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, especially in the possible trial of the plunder and other cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.

“Like that of Ruby Tuason, his (Cunanan’s) story is plausible and credible and has value added. His testimony will be useful and helpful in the successful prosecution of the most guilty players in the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam,” she explained.

De Lima said she would no longer comment on criticisms on Cunanan’s statement, saying the DOJ will now “leave it to the Ombudsman to undertake further evaluation of his fitness as a state witness.”

Among those who raised reservations on Cunanan’s testimony is Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares who questioned why the new state witness has not admitted liability and accepting kickbacks from the pork barrel scam allegedly perpetrated by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Stephen Cascolan, lawyer of the second batch of whistleblowers, also reportedly urged the DOJ to ensure Cunanan and other possible state witnesses to return their kickbacks.

But De Lima said she believes Cascolan was just misquoted in the report.