I saw him carry bag with P.9m — Benhur
THE principal whistleblower in the pork barrel scam Benhur Luy said Thursday that Dennis Cunanan, the former chief of the Technology Resource Center who wants to turn state witness, personally received P960,000 in kickbacks from Janet Lim Napoles, contrary to his claims.
In the continuation of the Blue Ribbon Committee hearings on the pork barrel scam, Luy said he personally saw Cunanan carrying a bagful of money after meeting Napoles at the JLN Corp. office at the Discovery Suites in Ortigas, Pasign City.
Luy said he was instructed by Naoles to prepare the P960,000 intended for Cunanan, representing his commission for the pork barrel coursed through the TRC.
He then handed the money to his co-worker, Evelyn De Leon, who was present at the meeting room with Napoles and Cunanan.
“When Dencu (referring to Dennis Cunanan) emerged out of the conference room, I saw him carrying the paper bag,” Luy said.
Asked if he saw Cunanan receive the money, Luy answered: “After the meeting, I saw the paper bag. He was carrying it.”
But Cunanan, who by his own admission faces two plunder complaints, was also at the hearing, maintained that he never received kickbacks from the legislators’ pork barrel funds.
“The fact that there was a lapse in the time the bag was given to Evelyn and given to me, I don’t know what happened,” said Cunanan.
Cunanan said he even investigated Napoles’ NGOs when he became head of the TRC.
At the start of the hearing, Senator Francis Escudero noted the testimony of Cunanan that he did not receive a single centavo from the PDAF was contrary to Luy’s statement on Sept. 12, 2013, which said 10 percent of the committed funding went to the president or head of the agency.
Citing Luy’s statement at the time, Escudero said: “I saw Alan Javellana of Nabcor, Dennis Cunanan and Antonio Ortiz of TRC.”
Escudero then confronted Cunanan, and said, “You did not commit any crime?”
Cunanan said he had not.
Escudero then asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who was also at the hearing, why Cunanan was charged at the Office of the Ombudsman if he claimed to have not committed any crime.
De Lima cited 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 through the TRC.
This was countered by Luy who said Cunanan received commissions from Napoles.
But Cunanan said if this were true, he wuld not have blacklisted certain organizations linked to Napoles.
“I was the once who moved to expedite the processing (of papers),” said Cunanan.
“In my conscience and the conscience of my famiy, it is hard to admit something that was not true,” said Cunanan.
Cunanan earlier executed an affidavit where he detailed how Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, through phone calls, supposedly confirmed that they selected foundations linked to Napoles for their pork barrel funds.
Both Revilla and Estrada denied knowing Cunanan and ever talking to him over the phone.
Senator Grace Poe said Cunanan was not credible and that she had misgivings about letting him become a state witness.
In quizzing Cunanan, Poe urged him to tell everything he knows about the scam, especially since he will already be immune from criminal prosecution once he becomes a state witness.
Cunanan appeared to be reluctant and insisted he did not receive any money.
Poe also cited inconsistencies between his statements to the media and his sworn statement of Feb. 20.
In one press conference, she said, Cunanan denied reports that he met Naples, but in his affidavit, he admitted meeting her at the TRC sometime in 2006 or 2007.
He also failed to mention in his sworn statement that he had met Napoles again after the initial meeting.
“Why didn’t you say that you also met (Napoles) at the Discovery?” asked Poe.
When pressed to answer if he did go to Napoles’ office, Cunanan said he was trying to remember, and that “most likely, there’s a chance” because he went to offices as part of the inspection of organizations receiving funds coursed through the TRC.
He again denied receiving money from Napoles.
Poe also brought up the issue of Cunanan’s resignation from the Commission on Higher Education reportedly because he did not have a college degree at the time. She also questioned him on the inaccuracies in his educational background.
“Why was there no mention in your profile on the TRC website the fact that you graduated from Lacson College. Your profile here says that you were a graduate of Exectuive Leadcership Development of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government?” asked Poe.
Cunanan said he has nothing to do with the profile.
“Your honor, when we updated our website, it was our team in the office who created that. I am just hearing that now, otherwise, I could have called their attention,” he said.
Cunanan also admitted that he did not finish his undergraduate course but said he took a month-long course on executive education at Harvard University.
He said he was surprised too that he was accepted for the post but later decided to end his two-month stint there.
Poe was about to proceed to Cunanan’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth when Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago arrived , requesting that she be allowed to question the witness.
Like Poe, she noted Cunanan’s “complicated” educational background.
“You’re a character,” Santiago said.
At the resumption of her questioning, Poe grilled Cunanan on the inconsistencies in his lifestyle.
The senator said she finds it heard to believe that Cunanan could afford to live in a house at White Plains given his salary of P63,000 a month. She also said she can’t believe that his monthly electric bill was only P10,000 a month.
But Cunanan said they use power savers for their appliances and made conscious efforts to save electricity.
Santiago, however, said Cunanan seemed to be a credible witness, despite his attempts to prove himself innocent.
“It is possible a witness may be false on some aspects of his testimony but might be credited with truth-telling in the major aspects of his testimony,” she said.
Committee chairman Senator Teofistor Guingona III said they will review Cunanan’s testimony.
“We will also compare his statements with those of the other whistle blowers to see if these were consistent or inconsistent. We will also take a look at his demeanor to ascertain if he is really telling the truth. After all that, then can we only say if there are inconsistencies in the testimony Mr. Dennis Cunanan,” said Guingona.
He declined to say if he saw inconsistencies in Cunanan’s testimony.
De Lima, on the other hand, admitted she was surprised by the revelation of Luy about the bagful of money. She said that was the first time she heard about it coming from Luy.
But she said she was giving Cunanan the benefit of the doubt on whether or not he also accepted kickbacks.
She said it is not easy to pass judgment on Cunanan since she will have to weigh things.
She considered Cunanan’s testimony as important because it supposedly debunks the claims of lawmakers that they did not have a hand in choosing non-government organizations linked to Napoles.
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