Senators in ‘pork’ scam dared to undergo lifestyle check

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Monday, March 3, 2014

A NEW witness in the alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) challenged senators embroiled in the scam on Monday to undergo a lifestyle check and open their bank accounts to scrutiny.

In a statement, former Technology Resource Center (TRC) chief Dennis Cunanan asked Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. to heed his call "so the public may know once and for all who is telling the truth."

The three senators, who were accused of pocketing multi-million peso kickbacks from alleged scam brainchild Janet Napoles, had a combined fortune of nearly half a billion pesos in 2012, according to their Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Enrile had a net worth of P118.63 million while Estrada and Revilla pegged their wealth at P193.58 million and P169.14 million, respectively.

Cunanan earlier said he will allow the Department of Justice (DOJ), which gave him temporary coverage under the Witness Protection Program (WPP), to investigate his wealth if only to prove that he never pocketed a single centavo from the scam involving Napoles' ghost projects aided by the lawmakers' PDAF.

But days after he made a public commitment, a television network reported that he failed to disclose to the public his supposed house worth P40 million in an plush subdivision in Quezon City and that he has a fleet of luxurious vehicles, one of which is registered to TRC.

"Why will I report properties that do not belong to me in my SALN?" asked Cunanan.

He admitted living in the said house, which he claimed to be a property of his brother Darius, a businessman who bought it through a bank loan seven years ago.

Cunanan's brother, who works in Pampanga, offered to lease the house to the former TRC official. He said he only took the deal after getting a "concessional rate."

Cunanan said the house and lot is not worth anywhere near P40 million since Darius acquired the property for around P12 million.

The former TRC official authorized his lawyer, Odessa Bernardo, to present to the media a copy of the Deed of Sale of said property, loan documents under his brother’s name and Darius' statement of account for the balance of the loans, which is P9 million.

As for his vehicles, Cunanan said he only has three. These are a 10-year-old van acquired through bank financing and two delivery trucks used in his family's water refilling business.

Sometimes, his parents, siblings or in-laws would lend them a car or van, which his children use as their service to school.

"As can be seen from the foregoing, the news feed was maliciously crafted by taking unverified claims and intercalating them with true facts to give them the semblance of truth…It is obviously part of a well finance demolition job aimed at destroying my credibility as a possible witness for the State against the powerful masterminds of the PDAF scam," said Cunanan, a co-respondent in the complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Cunanan asked the media not to mention his address and avoid showing footage and photos of his residence after his family and household told him that they started receiving "threatening phone calls and text messages," usually about their daily activities and inquiry on his whereabouts.

"These are real security concerns surrounding Cunanan and the other witnesses. We are verifying, we want to be very careful," said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

In his sworn affidavit, Cunanan said he has talked separately to Estrada and Revilla on the phone and that the two allegedly insisted that TRC honor Napoles’ non-government organizations (NGOs) as implementers of their pork barrel projects.

Enrile's former chief-of-staff Gigi Reyes, meanwhile, allegedly said that she and lawyer Jose Antonio Evangelista were authorized by Enrile to sign for and follow-up the PDAF projects.

Cunanan is expected to expound on his allegations at the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the anomaly on Thursday. (Sunnex)

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