The two “star” witnesses of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in the pork barrel scam case are now all wet. It’s time for her to go back to the drawing board after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada punctured the testimonies of former Technology Resource Center Director General Dennis Cunanan and socialite Ruby Chan Tuason.
Now I’ll focus on the issues against Cunanan raised by Senator Jinggoy. Cunanan had claimed he was only renting the house in White Plains owned by his brother. He also said that his brother took a bank loan to buy the house for P12 million in 2007 and the bank approved it after determining that the brother was earning enough. Well, Jinggoy came out last Wednesday with documents purporting to show that the brother, Darius, earned only P104,668.98 in 2007, not enough to buy a house in an exclusive subdivision.
Jinggoy added that contrary to Cunanan’s claim that his brother got a housing loan to buy the White House property, the house was paid for in cash and that the bank loan was for the establishment of Magalang Ciudad Enterprises, a trading company. He said that the bank approved the loan because Cunanan used the While Plains property used as collateral. Cunanan and not his brother was the majority stockholder of the company.
Cunanan was charged with plunder before the Ombudsman for the pork barrel scam but is applying as state witness, which could get him off the hook if approved. He had been claiming innocence, even testifying that since 2010, he had been instituting reforms at the TRC, which blacklisted non-government organizations as conduits of pork-funded projects. Surprise, surprise! Senator Jinggoy cited the special audit report of the Commission on Audit showing that the TRC under Cunanan had entrusted millions to NGOs in 2010, 2011 and 2012. “Reporma o puro porma?” Senator Jinggoy asked rhetorically.
The senator questioned the “selective” memory of Cunanan and his naming only three senators and a congressman who’s already dead as among those allegedly following up the release of their pork funds for projects to be undertaken by NGOs. He cited the COA report showing that about P2 billion from the pork of about 200 legislators meant for 30 NGOs had passed thru the TRC. The inference of Senator Jinggoy is clear: Cunanan would testify only against him and two other senators even if about 200 lawmakers had pork coursed thru the TRC.
I hope Cunanan would clarify these observations of Senator Jinggoy – if he can. If he can’t, well he could be comforted by the thought that he would not be cited for contempt for lying before the Senate yellow ribbon committee headed by Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona 3rd. Why, Guingona didn’t even warn Cunanan when Senator Grace Poe and Sen. Koko Pimentel doubted Cunanan’s testimony.
Oh yes, there was a time when a witness was sent to jail by the Senate blue ribbon committee headed by Sen. Dick Gordon for giving false testimony and for evasiveness. This was the moustachioed Jim Paule, nicknamed by Dick and then senator Pong Biazon as “Mister Suwabe.”
Paule was a businessman linked to the fertilizer scam by some witnesses. At the hearing, he denied knowing the other witnesses who had named him. He continued his denial even when he was shown a photo with him and the witnesses together.
“There’s modern technology now. My face could have been transferred from another photo,” Paule said straight-faced.
One of the persons in the photo was Marilyn Araos, who claimed she had been employed by Paule to take care of the documentation of fertilizer deals in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog. He said that nobody introduced her to him so he could not possibly know who she was even if they were both in the picture.
“It would have been an honor to have her acquaintance because she is a beautiful person,” he added.
He continued to deny knowing her even when Dick presented him with checks drawn from the bank account opened by Araos containing his name. He said he did not know how his name got into the checks.