MANILA -- Pork barrel scam witness Dennis Cunanan on Thursday told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that he was sure it was Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. he talked to on the phone regarding the release of the lawmaker's pork barrel funds to a bogus non-government organization (NGO) of Janet Lim Napoles.
Revilla, one of the respondents in the multibillion-peso pork scam case, was not present during Thursday's hearing.
But he sent to the committee his questions for Cunanan, and these were read by Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III.
Revilla grilled Cunanan about the latter's alleged phone conversation with him. He asked how the on-leave Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general can be sure it was the senator he talked to when it was not a video call and they did not even personally know each other.
"Kung hindi kayo magkakilala at kahit minsan ay hindi pa kayo nagkausap ng personal, ibig sabihin posibleng hindi rin si Sen. Bong Revilla ang kausap mo nung mga oras na yun dahil hindi naman yun video call?" Revilla asked.
While Cunanan admitted that he had never personally talked to Revilla prior to the phone call, he said he was sure of the voice of the senator, a popular actor.
"Your honor, tumawag po kami sa opisina niya. In-acknowlege po sa kabilang linya na opisina nga niya yun, opisina ni Sen. Revilla. Tapos binigay pa po si Atty. [Richard] Cambe, si Atty. Cambe ang nagbigay kay Sen. Revilla para makausap ko at ma-confirm na authorized representative siya," he said.
"Yung boses po niya, ako po ay nanonood din ng telebisyon at 'Idol Ko si Kap' at napapanood ko rin yung 'Panday' pag may Manila Film Festival dahil isa yun sa magagandang lumalabas noon na pelikula. Plus pulitiko po siya, pamilyar po ako sa kanyang boses. Saka nung kinausap po niya ako, sabi niya 'Direktor, o, kumusta?' Diretso po eh, parang alam po niya yung project na nasa harapan ko na vine-verify ko. At sabi niya si Atty. Cambe ang authorized representative niya," he added.
"Tiyak po ako na si Sen. Revilla po yun, your honor," Cunanan said.
Cambe, a staff of Revilla, is also one of the respondents in the pork scam case.
Revilla then asked Cunanan what he would do if a foreign man claiming to be US President Barack Obama called him on the phone. "Sasabihin mo rin ba na tinawagan ka ni Pangulong Obama?"
But Cunanan quickly pointed out these are two totally different instances.
"Iba naman po yata yung ako yung tatawagan at ako yung tatawag. Opisina po yung tinatawagan ko at landline po yun, hindi cellphone. Officialy listed office po... At wala po sigurong dahilan para tawagan ako ni President Obama," he said.
CUNANAN'S PROPERTIES, TRAVELS
Meanwhile, the senator also asked about the alleged posh properties owned by Cunanan, particularly a mansion in White Plains, Quezon City and a Mercedes Benz and a Lincoln Navigator.
Cunanan once again categorically denied that the house is his. He said it is owned by his businessman-brother and he is just renting with concessional rates.
He also noted that the property was not acquired by his brother in cash but through a bank loan.
He said his family handles a variety of businesses which include gasoline and water refilling stations as well as resort and agricultural operations.
He also denied owning luxury cars, saying he only has one van, which he bought in 2004, and two trucks, which he bought for their water refilling station. He noted that all of these were also acquired through bank loans.
"Yung Mercedes siguro na sinasabi yun po yung 1999 yata or 2000 na isa pong hinihiram namin na sasakyan sa aming in-laws para may extra kaming nagagamit pag may emergency na may kailangang magamit. Hindi po siya bago, lumang sasakyan. Pang-alternate na panghatid sa eskwela paminsan-minsan," Cunanan said.
When the TRC official was asked about his frequent travels, he did not deny these.
Cunanan, however, pointed out that his travels were all part of his being an officer of the Junior Chamber International (JCI).
He said his trips were part of his functions as an international officer and were thus sponsored by JCI. He showed a certificate from JCI confirming his travels abroad.
CHED, UP stint
Revilla, meanwhile, also questioned the stint of Cunanan at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in 2004 despite not having a college degree.
The senator insinuated that Cunanan made the CHED believe he finished his college undergraduate course, thus was eligible to become a CHED official.
But Cunanan pointed out he did not even apply for the post but was appointed. He said he immediately resigned to address his deficiencies.
Cunanan also denied being kicked out as a student regent of the University of the Philippines (UP) over financial issues, as alleged by the senator.
"Mali po, baka yung isang student regent na Dennis din ang pangalan ang tinutukoy nila, hindi po ako yun. Na-extend pa nga po ako as student regent ng university, hindi ako natanggal," he said.
Bring out the truth
During the hearing, Cunanan also refuted Revilla's insinuations that he just turned witness in the pork scam case to seek immunity from criminal prosecution.
He insisted that he surfaced to bring out the truth even without the assurance of having full immunity from the cases filed against him in connection with the anomaly.
"Pinupursige po namin ito ngayon at nag-offer kami ng aming information, ng aming serbisyo sa gobyerno una pa man, consistent po ako diyan, hindi dahil gusto kong matanggal sa kaso kundi dahil gusto ko rin ilabas yung katotohanan," Cunanan said.
"At dahil gusto ko ring ipakita na hindi yung mga implementing agencies ang may problema dahil ho ang dinidiin ngayon yung implementing agencies. Bakit yung mga maliliit na tao na katulad namin [ang dinidiin]?" he added.