By Mikhail Franz E. Flores

Ex-TRC chief turns state witness in pork barrel case

Posted on February 22, 2014

A former state agency executive implicated in the pork barrel scam has turned state witness to testify against his co-accused in the plunder case, Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima announced on Friday.

“We are officially confirming that we have another state witness... in the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) case and this is in the person of Dennis L. Cunanan,” Ms. de Lima said in a press conference.

Mr. Cunanan, who served as Deputy Director General and subsequently Director General of the Technology Livelihood Resource Center (TRC), joins Ruby Tuason who was also included in the charge sheet but later secured government’s provisional coverage as a state witness after agreeing to testify against her co-accused.

The TRC is one of at least four implementing agencies that allegedly served as conduits in the scam.

“We think the proffered testimony of Mr. Dennis Cunanan is essential and again corroborative of earlier testimonies of our whistleblowers, particularly Mr. Benhur Luy,” Ms. de Lima added.

Ms. de Lima said Mr. Cunanan’s admission into the Witness Protection Program (WPP) was “provisional”, until approved by the Office of the Ombudsman which is currently holding its preliminary investigation into the plunder case.

Mr. Cunanan executed his 36-affidavit on Friday morning at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Based on excerpts provided by Ms. de Lima, Mr. Cunanan narrated he met Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind, in 2006 and 2007.

“Mrs. Napoles introduced herself as the representative of certain legislators who supposedly picked TRC as the ’conduit’ for their PDAF-funded projects,” a portion of his affidavit read.

“Among those prominently mentioned by Mrs. Napoles as her principals were then Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Senators Ramon ’Bong’ Revilla, Jr., Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada (Jose E. Estrada), as well as a host of congressmen whose names I cannot recall now.”

Mr. Cunanan said he spoke with Messrs. Estrada and Revilla as well as to Mr. Enrile’s then chief-of-staff, lawyer Jessica Lucila G. Reyes, over the phone to discuss PDAF-funded projects.

“I remember vividly how both Senators Revilla and Estrada admonished me because they thought that TRC was purportedly “delaying” the projects. Both Senators ...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,” Mr. Cunanan said.

“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.”

Mr. Cunanan’s testimony, Ms. de Lima said, would “debunk and belie” claims of the accused lawmakers that they merely nominated the projects and had no hand in the implementation.

The Justice chief said the testimony was backed up with documentary evidence that matched what the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) already holds in its investigation.

With Mr. Cunanan’s affidavit, Ms. de Lima said: “Another angle of the entire story has been completed, the bits and pieces of the entire (sic) turning to be very complete in the PDAF issue,” Ms. de Lima said.