Return PDAF kickbacks, whistleblowers urged

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

SENATOR Grace Poe on Thursday said whistleblowers like Benhur Luy and others should voluntarily submit themselves to a lifestyle check and return their commission or earnings from the pork barrel deals.

In an interview, Poe said the Department of Justice (DOJ) must urge Luy and the other witnesses to do a Ruby Tuason for the sake of fairness.

Tuazon, who is facing a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman, earlier promised to return at least P40 million of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that she pocketed.

"The DOJ must really come up with rules and part of it is to return what they may have stolen. Ruby Tuason set a precedent which in my view should also be expected of other witnesses," Poe said.

The senator also lauded Tuason for admitting that she accepted a commission for her involvement in the PDAF transactions of alleged pork barrel scam architect Janet Lim-Napoles.

Asked if she herself still has doubts on Dennis Cunanan's willingness to submit himself voluntarily to a lifestyle check, Poe said it is a welcome move, "but his bank account is just a piece of the puzzle."

"This lifestyle check must also apply to all other witnesses like Benhur Luy and others plus the fact that they have to return the money of the Filipino people. No exemptions," Poe said.

It was Poe who called on the DOJ to conduct a lifestyle check on Cunanan, a former head of the Technology Resource Center, who is facing charges at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the pork barrel scam.

Cunanan is now applying to be a state witness and is expected to appear at next week's hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

As government witnesses, Poe said people like Cunanan, Luy, Tuason and others should come clean without any criminal consequence.

Poe said that if the said witnesses are sincere enough, "then Benhur Luy and the other witnesses will not hesitate to reveal their assets in order to dispel all doubts about possible kickbacks."

For his part, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito expressed apprehension at the way the DOJ has been accepting state witnesses.

"From what I know those who are least guilty are the ones who should be accepted as such. If people who were part of the conspiracy or scam then they should not be considered to become state witnesses. This is setting a bad precedent," Ejercito said.

Ejercito said the DOJ must be sincere in its task as he urged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to play fair and square to all concerned. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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