CUNANAN, OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE IN PORK SCAM - COA

SPOTLIGHT SHIFTS: Dennis Cunanan, director general on-leave of the Technology Resource Center, testifies during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the pork barrel scam while principal witness Benhur Luy is all ears. A Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Dennis Cunanan and the heads of the other implementing agencies involved should be held accountable for their role in the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, said Commission on Audit Chair (COA) Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan. Cunanan and the other agency heads should stop tossing the blame as they did not perform their roles after their agencies took the 3-percent and 10-percent management fees from the pork barrel funds that passed through their offices for the projects of the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) of Napoles that turned out to be fake, Tan said. “Based on our findings, they have been getting commissions but we have not seen any monitoring of the projects (supposed to be funded by pork barrel funds of lawmakers) because as it turned out, the ones who monitored all the documents were the offices of the concerned legislators,” Tan said.

ALSO: Cunanan pins down Enrile, Revilla, Estrada Their pork proposals are ‘similarly worded’

Even Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile endorsed the recipient of his own pork barrel in the “grand conspiracy” to convert government funds into kickbacks, a government executive said on Thursday. Testifying before the Senate blue ribbon committee, Dennis Cunanan said Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. submitted similarly worded project proposals to the Technology Resource Center (TRC) to course their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to preselected nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
Cunanan, TRC’s director general who is on leave, said Estrada and Revilla “pressured” him on the phone into releasing their PDAF allocations to NGOs controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles, the detained businesswoman who allegedly engineered the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Now a provisional state witness, Cunanan sought to distance himself from the transactions in the TRC, a government corporation that acted as a conduit for the release of the PDAF to NGOs. “They copied from each other’s project proposal,” Cunanan told the committee during its 10th hearing on the PDAF scandal. Citing his own research, Cunanan said that even Enrile identified the NGO-recipient of his PDAF, in a reversal of the process that it was usually the TRC that informed legislators about the availability of their PDAF. “He wrote to this implementing agency and said that funds would be soon available. Later on, his staff followed up with a letter this time identifying the NGO,” he said under questioning by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Santiago remarked: “Wow. I’m very interested in what you have to say.” Cunanan said the transaction involving Enrile’s PDAF pushed through, without going into specifics. It was the first time Cunanan identified Enrile as the direct endorser of a recipient NGO. 20 questions from Revilla The three senators, who have denied any wrongdoing, skipped the hearing as in the past, but Revilla sent a list of more than 20 questions for Cunanan through the committee chair, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.

ALSO: Cunanan grilled in Senate over electric bills, travels, lifestyle

Senators on Thursday scrutinized Dennis Cunanan’s lifestyle, starting from his electricity bill up to his alleged frequent travels abroad, when he faced the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday.
For someone who lives in a posh subdivision in Quezon City, Senator Grace Poe wondered how Cunanan manages to pay only P10,000 in electric bill every month.
Cunanan, director general on-leave of the Technology Resource Center, said that his net worth was P2, 161, 547 while his taxable income every year was P776, 216.
“Lumalabas na halos P63,000 ang suweldo mo buwan-buwan. Mga magkano ang kuryenteng binabayaran mo? (It appears that you’re getting almost P63,000 salary every month. How much do you pay for your electric bill?)” Poe asked. “Misis ko po kasi ang nagbabayad (My wife’s the one paying). I suppose it’s in the range of P10,000 to P11,000…” Cunanan said. “Parang imposible kasi ang P10,000 sa ganung klaseng…pasensya na kasi…may dating yung bahay at sa tingin ko kung mga ganun lang (ang inyong kuryente), parang magrereklamo ako, bakit ganun lang? (It seems it’s impossible that you’d pay P10,000 for a house like that. Pardon me but the house has impact and from what I see, if it’s like that, regarding your electricity bill, I would complain),” Poe said. But Cunanan said they were using economy savers and that his wife, who hailed from Pangasinan, has been good at saving their electricity consumptions. “Ang tatay ko ay taga-Pangasinan rin. Kahit noong nabubuhay s’ya ay hindi pa rin ganun na P10,000 o P11,000 ang kuryente (My father was also from Pangasinan. Even when he was alive, our electricity bill won’t reached those figures, P10,000 to P11,000),” said Poe, referring to the late famous actor-director-producer, National Artist for Film Fernando Poe Jr. “Kahit na P63,000 ang sweldo— P10,000 sa kuryente, meron pang mga stickers sa kotse, gasolina pa. Mahirap intindihin…(Even if your salary is P63,000, with P10,000 for electric bill, you’d still have stickers (LTO, among others), gasoline too. It’s hard to figure it out…” Poe added. Cunanan also clarified that he was just renting the house of his brother in White Plains.
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who sent his questions to Cunanan through the committee, also questioned Cunanan’s lifestyle, including his vehicles and travels abroad.

ALSO: Emotional Cunanan denies getting ‘pork’ commissions

An emotional Dennis Cunanan repeatedly denied getting commissions from legislators’ pork barrel funds when he testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday.
Cunanan was immediately confronted with questions by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero whether or not he had indeed received kickbacks as alleged by Benhur Luy, the principal whistleblower in the P10 billion pork barrel scam. Luy claimed that Cunanan, who was then deputy director general of the Technology Resource Center (TRC), received commissions amounting to P960,000 from his boss, now detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam. “You did not commit any crime?” Escudero asked Cunanan. “Yes sir,” Cunanan answered. Escudero then asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who was also present at the hearing, why Cunanan was charged at the Office of the Ombudsman if he claimed to have not committed any wrong doing. De Lima then pointed to Cunanan’s own admission in his affidavit that there were occasions that he had signed certain documents pertaining to the release of pork barrel funds of lawmakers coursed their the TRC.


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COA: Cunanan, others accountable in pork scam


SPOTLIGHT SHIFTS Dennis Cunanan, director general on-leave of the Technology Resource Center, testifies during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the pork barrel scam while principal witness Benhur Luy is all ears. RAFFY LERMA


Gracia Pulido-Tan presented to the Senate Blue COA 8 dubious NGOs linked to the pork scam.

MANILA, MARCH 10, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Gil C. Cabacungan, Jerome Aning, TJ Burgonio - Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Dennis Cunanan and the heads of the other implementing agencies involved should be held accountable for their role in the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, said Commission on Audit Chair (COA) Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan.

Cunanan and the other agency heads should stop tossing the blame as they did not perform their roles after their agencies took the 3-percent and 10-percent management fees from the pork barrel funds that passed through their offices for the projects of the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) of Napoles that turned out to be fake, Tan said.

“Based on our findings, they have been getting commissions but we have not seen any monitoring of the projects (supposed to be funded by pork barrel funds of lawmakers) because as it turned out, the ones who monitored all the documents were the offices of the concerned legislators,” Tan said.

Agencies’ shortcomings

Tan noted that the COA’s special audit of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) releases between 2007 and 2009 zeroed in on the shortcomings of the implementing agencies. Allegations that Cunanan and the heads of other implementing agencies received kickbacks from Napoles were made by whistle-blowers like Benhur Luy.

“There was very little effort if at all on the part of the implementing agencies to really do any monitoring. That’s why our question was: If you did nothing, why collect management fees?” Tan said.

She said that if the proper process was followed to the letter, the implementing agencies should have implemented the project themselves instead of acting as mere conduits for the fake NGOs.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday said that Cunanan, who is on leave from the TRC, will be given the opportunity to refute—or admit—that he, too, had received kickbacks from the ghost projects of the fake Napoles NGOs that received the pork allocations from the lawmakers’ PDAF.

“We’re giving him a chance to explain or rectify himself on the issue of his allegedly receiving kickbacks,” said De Lima.
She said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was waiting for what Cunanan has to say on that point so the government would know what step to take next.

At Thursday’s Senate hearing, whistle-blower Luy claimed that he saw Cunanan leaving the office of Napoles carrying a paper bag that contained P960,000 in kickback money.

Cunanan denied having received any money although he said he was trying to remember if he did visit Napoles’ office as part of TRC officials’ regular duties to inspect the NGOs accredited by the agency to implement PDAF-funded projects.

Cunanan and Luy have been provisionally accepted to the government’s witness protection program (WPP) and have applied to become state witnesses.

De Lima said she did not think the credibility of Cunanan and Luy would be affected by their conflicting testimonies.

“Benhur remains to be a very credible witness. He has not given us reasons or indications to doubt his credibility and the credibility of his story about the entire PDAF scam,” she said.

She said it was the first time that she heard Luy relate the story of having seen Cunanan carrying a paper bag as he left Napoles’ office.
But she admitted that the conflicting claims of Luy and Cunanan regarding the latter’s alleged acceptance of kickbacks “complicated” the situation.

Importance of testimony

However, De Lima stressed that the value of Cunanan’s testimony was his allegation that three senators—Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile—had contacted him to follow up on the ghost projects to be funded by their pork funds.

“If only we focused on the substantive aspect of his testimony, it would be good [for the case]. We heard many things from him that are important to the main issues of the PDAF scam. But because of his denials that he received kickbacks … we did ask him about it but he was consistent in his denials,” she said.

But she hinted that Cunanan’s admission to the WPP could be affected if he fails to explain or prove that he did not accept kickbacks. But she quickly added, “I don’t want to make a definitive action at this point while I haven’t heard his side. He has to explain himself.”

“The remedy that I can see at this point, while we’re evaluating [Cunanan’s] continuing status as provisional state witness, is for us to give him a chance [to explain],” she said.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III on Friday said De Lima should sort out the conflicting testimonies of Luy and Cunanan lest it jeopardize the government’s case.

Pimentel wondered how the DOJ could have admitted Luy and Cunanan into the WPP when they had “conflicting versions” of the alleged payoff to Cunanan.

“How come we have two people admitted into the WPP, and on one material incident, they have two conflicting versions?” the senator said in a phone interview.

“One said it happened and one said it never happened. And they are both truthful. How did that happen?” he said.

As a matter of policy, applicants are accepted into the WPP not only because they’re telling the truth, but the “entire truth,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel, a lawyer, said WPP witnesses should be truthful in the “entirety of their testimony” lest they be challenged by the legal principle “falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus” (false in one, false in all).

“When you’re lying in one item of your testimony, you might have lied in the rest of your testimony. That will become an opening for the defense counsels. They will now take advantage of that,” he said.

Pimentel said if the DOJ wants to present Luy as the “star witness,” then Cunanan’s testimony must be “measured against” Luy’s.

“And if it’s Cunanan who is inconsistent with Benhur Luy, and Benhur Luy’s testimony is more important, then the less important witness must be discharged from the WPP. Because you can’t have this funny situation where you have two truthful witnesses, and yet contradicting each other,” he said.

It would be all right for a witness outside the WPP to contradict the testimony of a WPP witness, but it’s a different matter if both are WPP witnesses, Pimentel pointed out.

Pimentel believes that Cunanan’s testimony was not indispensable.

He said Cunanan’s “phone conversations” with the senators constituted “weak evidence” that could be easily punctured by the defense. He said Cunanan should have made personal visits to the lawmakers to verify their authorization letters.

If at all, he said Cunanan could only provide documents used in processing the transfer of funds from TRC to the NGOs, which would constitute strong evidence, but others could also testify on these.

In a radio interview on Friday, Sen. Grace Poe expressed her reservations about admitting Cunanan as a state witness.

“He wasn’t telling the whole truth especially about himself … He was pointing to others John Travolta style. He’s blaming others, except himself,” she added.

If Cunanan had admitted receiving the P960,000, he would have been more credible, said Poe.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara, for his part, said Cunanan’s credibility wasn’t “cut and dried” as that of Ruby Tuason, who admitted receiving commissions by acting as a middleman between Napoles’ JLN Corp. and the lawmakers.

“He’s credible on some points but not all, especially where they differed with Luy,” he said.

Cunanan pins down Enrile, Revilla, Estrada Their pork proposals are ‘similarly worded’ By TJ Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:05 am | Friday, March 7th, 2014


Dennis Cunanan (dost.gov.ph photo), Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Bong Revilla Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines—Even Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile endorsed the recipient of his own pork barrel in the “grand conspiracy” to convert government funds into kickbacks, a government executive said on Thursday.

Testifying before the Senate blue ribbon committee, Dennis Cunanan said Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. submitted similarly worded project proposals to the Technology Resource Center (TRC) to course their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to preselected nongovernment organizations (NGOs).

Cunanan, TRC’s director general who is on leave, said Estrada and Revilla “pressured” him on the phone into releasing their PDAF allocations to NGOs controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles, the detained businesswoman who allegedly engineered the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Now a provisional state witness, Cunanan sought to distance himself from the transactions in the TRC, a government corporation that acted as a conduit for the release of the PDAF to NGOs.

“They copied from each other’s project proposal,” Cunanan told the committee during its 10th hearing on the PDAF scandal.

Citing his own research, Cunanan said that even Enrile identified the NGO-recipient of his PDAF, in a reversal of the process that it was usually the TRC that informed legislators about the availability of their PDAF.

“He wrote to this implementing agency and said that funds would be soon available. Later on, his staff followed up with a letter this time identifying the NGO,” he said under questioning by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Santiago remarked: “Wow. I’m very interested in what you have to say.”

Cunanan said the transaction involving Enrile’s PDAF pushed through, without going into specifics.

It was the first time Cunanan identified Enrile as the direct endorser of a recipient NGO.

20 questions from Revilla

The three senators, who have denied any wrongdoing, skipped the hearing as in the past, but Revilla sent a list of more than 20 questions for Cunanan through the committee chair, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III.

In rush of the three senators to have their fund released, Cunanan said the lawmakers’ representatives would show up with the endorsement letter, even before the fund was transferred to the TRC.

“You’re very detailed. I congratulate you. I should have let you stayed in UP,” commented Santiago, an alumna of the University of the Philippines.

Cunanan, who was TRC deputy director general when the senators dealt with agency from 2007 to 2009, admitted he often talked with Enrile’s chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes.

The 42-year-old Cunanan, who wore rimmed glasses and was clad in a dark blue polo shirt, said he was endorsed to Reyes, who he believed was the alter-ego of the senator.

And while he dealt mostly with Reyes, Cunanan said it was hard to believe that Enrile didn’t know about the transactions.

Cunanan also confirmed that Estrada and Revilla submitted project proposals that had the same format and language, even misspellings.

‘Let it go’

Egged on by Santiago, he said that Enrile’s camp forwarded project proposals that were similar to those of his two colleagues.

“Yes,” he said when asked if this was part of “a grand conspiracy to plunder public funds” as he had stated in his affidavit, but stopped short of identifying the mastermind. “That’s very difficult to say.”

“Let it go,” Santiago coaxed him, using words from a song in the movie “Frozen,” but to no avail.

In his affidavit, Cunanan said the project proposals of Estrada and Revilla appeared to have been prepared by one person or group.

He recalled an instance when Benhur Luy, who visited his TRC office to lobby the projects, called the offices of Estrada and Revilla, and handed him the phone so he could talk with their staff, and eventually, the senators.

Luy, erstwhile chief aide of Napoles, confirmed that he called Estrada’s staff Pauline Labayen and Revilla’s staff Richard Cambe before handing the phone to Cunanan.

“I was even doubting if he can really call, but he did,” Cunanan said of Luy. “I think he first talked with Labayen. When I got the phone, Labayen told me: ‘Director, the senator will talk to you.’”

“Of course, I was shocked when it was passed to me. The senator asked, ‘What seems to be the problem? Why don’t you complete it because it’s being awaited in the ground?’ I told him: ‘Senator, it’s still being processed. It’s not that easy.’

We ended there,” he added.

He didn’t doubt that it was Estrada on the other line because he was familiar with the senator’s voice on TV and in the action films he appeared in.

‘Kap is my idol’

Cunanan said he next talked with Cambe, who asked if there was a way that the release of the fund could be fast-tracked.

“I said it’s now being processed. Then I was put on hold for a while, and Cambe passed the phone to the senator. He asked ‘What’s taking you too long? That’s my PDAF. The NGO is authorized, maybe you could speed it up,’” he added, recalling his conversation with Revilla.

Cunanan said he could not recall the exact conversations, but admitted: “I don’t get to talk to senators every day.”
He said that was the first time he spoke with Estrada and the second time with Revilla.

“I also watch TV. ‘Idol ko si Kap,’” he later said, referring to Revilla’s former TV show, to prove that he was familiar with the senator’s voice.

Santiago later told reporters that Cunanan’s testimony established the involvement of the three senators in the racket.

“What’s important is there’s conspiracy as seen in the documents. In all three offices of the senators, the format, phraseology was exactly the same. It looks like they just copied from each other. They had a template and agreed to follow a certain modus operandi as evidenced by the uniform use of supporting documents,” Santiago said.

Cunanan grilled in Senate over electric bills, travels, lifestyle By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 6:55 pm | Thursday, March 6th, 2014


Dennis Cunanan almost broke into tears while giving his statement to the Senate. KRISTINE SABILLO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Senators on Thursday scrutinized Dennis Cunanan’s lifestyle, starting from his electricity bill up to his alleged frequent travels abroad, when he faced the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday.

For someone who lives in a posh subdivision in Quezon City, Senator Grace Poe wondered how Cunanan manages to pay only P10,000 in electric bill every month.

Cunanan, director general on-leave of the Technology Resource Center, said that his net worth was P2, 161, 547 while his taxable income every year was P776, 216.

“Lumalabas na halos P63,000 ang suweldo mo buwan-buwan. Mga magkano ang kuryenteng binabayaran mo? (It appears that you’re getting almost P63,000 salary every month. How much do you pay for your electric bill?)” Poe asked.

“Misis ko po kasi ang nagbabayad (My wife’s the one paying). I suppose it’s in the range of P10,000 to P11,000…” Cunanan said.

“Parang imposible kasi ang P10,000 sa ganung klaseng…pasensya na kasi…may dating yung bahay at sa tingin ko kung mga ganun lang (ang inyong kuryente), parang magrereklamo ako, bakit ganun lang? (It seems it’s impossible that you’d pay P10,000 for a house like that. Pardon me but the house has impact and from what I see, if it’s like that, regarding your electricity bill, I would complain),” Poe said.

But Cunanan said they were using economy savers and that his wife, who hailed from Pangasinan, has been good at saving their electricity consumptions.

“Ang tatay ko ay taga-Pangasinan rin. Kahit noong nabubuhay s’ya ay hindi pa rin ganun na P10,000 o P11,000 ang kuryente (My father was also from Pangasinan. Even when he was alive, our electricity bill won’t reached those figures, P10,000 to P11,000),” said Poe, referring to the late famous actor-director-producer, National Artist for Film Fernando Poe Jr.
“Kahit na P63,000 ang sweldo— P10,000 sa kuryente, meron pang mga stickers sa kotse, gasolina pa. Mahirap intindihin…(Even if your salary is P63,000, with P10,000 for electric bill, you’d still have stickers (LTO, among others), gasoline too. It’s hard to figure it out…” Poe added.

Cunanan also clarified that he was just renting the house of his brother in White Plains.

Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who sent his questions to Cunanan through the committee, also questioned Cunanan’s lifestyle, including his vehicles and travels abroad.

And to prove that there was nothing irregular with his lifestyle, Cunanan produced a certification to prove that most of his travels abroad were covered by his functions as an official of the Junior Chamber International (JCI), a non-sectarian, non-political youth service organization.

“This letter certifies that Mr. Dennis Cunanan served JCI in several capacities since 2008, namely as JCI vice president in 2008, chief executive assistant in 2009, general legal counsel in 2010, and executive vice president in 2011,” said the certification dated March 2 and signed by JCI deputy secretary general Arrey Obenson.

“In the aforementioned capacities both elected and appointed, Mr. Cunanan was assigned budget annually which covered his airfares, and lodging expenses for all travel that was related to his duties.”

Cunanan’s travels in 2012 related to his position as secretary general of the JCI, it further said, have also been covered by the chamber.

Emotional Cunanan denies getting ‘pork’ commissions By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net 10:03 am | Thursday, March 6th, 2014


Dennis Cunanan, the general director of the Technology Resource Center (TRC), testifies before the Senate blue ribbon committee, on the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Cunanan denied Thursday, March 6, 2014, that he received commissions from the alleged transactions that took place between detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and 27 lawmakers, including three senators. INQUIRER.net's Nestor Corrales

MANILA, Philippines – An emotional Dennis Cunanan repeatedly denied getting commissions from legislators’ pork barrel funds when he testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday.

Cunanan was immediately confronted with questions by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero whether or not he had indeed received kickbacks as alleged by Benhur Luy, the principal whistleblower in the P10 billion pork barrel scam.

Luy claimed that Cunanan, who was then deputy director general of the Technology Resource Center (TRC), received commissions amounting to P960,000 from his boss, now detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam.

“You did not commit any crime?” Escudero asked Cunanan.

“Yes sir,” Cunanan answered.

Escudero then asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who was also present at the hearing, why Cunanan was charged at the Office of the Ombudsman if he claimed to have not committed any wrong doing.

De Lima then pointed to Cunanan’s own admission in his affidavit that there were occasions that he had signed certain documents pertaining to the release of pork barrel funds of lawmakers coursed their the TRC.

Luy who was also present in the hearing, maintained that Cunanan received commissions from Napoles.

But Cunanan insisted that if indeed the allegation was true, he would not validate and blacklist certain organizations linked to Napoles, when he became head of the TRC.

“Ako pa ang magmamadaling magproseso…” Cunanan said.

But in his conscience, he said, it was very difficult to admit something that was not true.
It was at this point that Cunanan got emotional.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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