Cunanan’s testimony

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Saturday, March 8, 2014


I am not surprised that the testimony of Dennis Cunanan, director-general on-leave of the Technology Resource Center ((TRC), before the Senate blue ribbon committee last Thursday elicited criticisms and concern. Cunanan is the latest witness snagged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the plunder and corruption cases it filed against Janet Lim-Napoles, some lawmakers, government bureaucrats and other personalities.

Cunanan testified mainly about his alleged dealings with Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. The three topped the list of lawmakers that channeled millions of pesos of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations set up by Napoles.

Critics immediately questioned his credibility and the consistency of his testimony.

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But not all witnesses can be likened to PDAF scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, whose forthrightness makes him an ideal court presence. Others can be like Ruby Tuason, whose testimony in the PDAF scam issue seems to be mix of the true and the withheld. Cunanan is even worse because he seems to have added half-truths, even lies, to his claims.

That reminds me of the celebrated case filed in court following the abduction and killing of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong years ago.

One of those who testified against the accused, which included big names like Jusman Aznar and Paco Larranaga, was Davidson “Tisoy Tagalog” Rusia. His character was questionable but the court believed him.

In the organization that I belonged to in my younger days, we were admonished to listen to what one said and not to be overly concerned with who said it. Meaning that while we take note of Cunanan’s character, we should also consider the substance of his testimony.

But whether he qualifies as state witness or not is another matter altogether. That will be up for the court and the anti-graft office, which is still deliberating on the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the DOJ, to consider.

As for me, I am more interested in the information that Cunanan has about the PDAF mess than on whether he was among those who benefited immensely from the scam.

***

Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), can be amusing sometimes. He is currently peddling the gospel of Vice President Jejomar Binay as this country’s president. In doing so, he often sounds laughable.

"Human rights lawyer si Vice President Binay at tinitiyak namin na kapag siya ang naging pangulo, kahit mga kaalyado namin na napatunayang guilty ng korte sa PDAF scam o kahit anong katiwalian, pananagutin sila sa kanilang mga kasalanan," he said recently.

Binay’s allies include Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada. Enrile, together with Erap’s son jinggoy, is facing plunder charges for the P10 billion PDAF scam. The older Estrada is a plunder convict that got presidential pardon.

Binay has wisely largely kept silent as the pork barrel scam issue unfurled for months now, but in the few times that he spoke, he betrayed his attitude towards his beleaguered allies. He didn’t sound like one who wouldn’t bend when it comes to supporting them.

Binay had tried to downplay the impact of Ruby Tuason’s testimony in the plunder case. Tuason, who delivered money to clients of Janet Lim-Napoles, had claimed she dealt directly with Jinggoy and Enrile’s former chief of staff Gigi Reyes.

But when challenged by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano to categorically state that he won’t coddle his allies involved in the scam if he becomes president, Binay fell silent again and deferred to Tiangco.
(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 09, 2014.

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