Estrada won’t file perjury raps vs Cunanan

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SENATOR Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday said Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Dennis Cunanan has already lost his credibility due to the many inconsistencies in his statement when he testified on the pork barrel scam before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

Estrada, one of the three senators dragged in the pork barrel scam, said he will not file any perjury charges against Cunanan considering the fact that he already destroyed himself in his own testimony.

"I don't see the need anymore. Siya ang naghukay ng sarili niyang libingan (He dug his own grave). Estrada said

Estrada belittled Cunanan's testimony by saying that his conflicting statements and the many inconsistencies during the hearing are more than enough proof to show that he is a liar.

"He destroyed himself totally." Estrada said.

Earlier, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. said he and his lawyers were now studying if they could file perjury charges against Cunanan, who is a provisional state witness on the multi-billion-peso scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Both Estrada and Revilla will be giving their privilege speeches in answer to the testimony of Cunanan.

Senator Grace Poe in a radio interview said she is really against the grant of legislative immunity to Cunanan.

Poe said Cunanan is not a credible witness and the Department of Justice must really weigh things carefully.

Poe admitted that she cannot believe Cunanan when the latter said that he did not receive anything from the pork barrel considering the lifestyle of Cunanan and his family.

"Parang hindi nagtutugma ang nakikitang pamumuhay ni Mr. Cunanan sa kanyang mga sinasabi," said Poe.

Poe said it is high time that the Department of Justice carefully review those applying to become state witnesses considering the benefits that they are receiving, which include the allowances they get, the scholarship that their children receive plus the security that the government is extending and the livelihood that they are entitled to get.

"We have to weigh things carefully. Those applying under the WPP (Witness Protection Program) must really be scrutinized and they must really be deserving." Poe said.

"(Pork scam main whistleblower) Benhur Luy and Cunanan gave conflicting statements. There were many inconsistencies. Benhur Luy stood firm on his testimony linking Dennis Cunanan to the pork kickbacks while Cunanan is claiming that he is not getting anything," Poe said.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said there was no need to recommend legislative immunity for Cunanan since the Justice Department had already provisionally admitted him to its WPP.

He said Cunanan already enjoyed certain privileges under the WPP, such as, government protection.

Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV said the DOJ must check twice the personalities of each and every witness including Cunanan.

Senator Nancy Binay, for her part, rejected the grant of immunity to Cunanan, saying he is a questionable witness.

Cunanan had told the Senate panel led by Senator Teofisto Guingona that Estrada and Revilla, who are facing plunder complaints before the Ombudsman over the pork barrel scam, had pressured him into expediting the release of their pork barrel through the TRC.

Cunanan has denied benefiting from the scam and has applied to become a state witness, but principal whistleblower Benhur Luy stood by his statement that Cunanan received at least P960,000 in kickbacks from the alleged diversion of pork barrel to ghost projects.

But Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Antonio Trillanes and Senator Francis Chiz Escudero expressed the belief that Cunanan remains to be a credible witness.

Santiago said Cunanan was still qualified to be a state witness in the scam even if it could be proved that he denied receiving kickbacks from pork barrel fund releases.

Santiago, a former University of the Philippines law professor and regional trial court judge, said the Rules of Court allowed an accused to become a state witness "if it appears that he is not the most guilty."

She said the legal provision was often mistaken by laymen to mean that the state witness should be "the least guilty."

"These two concepts are often mistaken as meaning the same thing. They mean different things," Santiago said.

Santiago cited the 2008 case Tarapen v. The People where the Supreme Court ruled: "The testimony of a witness may be believed in part and disbelieved in another depending on the corroborative evidence or the probabilities and improbabilities of the case."

Santiago also cited the 2003 case of The People vs. Masapol where the Supreme Court ruled: "The doctrine of falsus in uno falsus in omnibus, (meaning false in one, false in all) deals only with the weight of evidence and is not a positive rule of law, and the same is not an inflexible one of universal application."

Meanwhile, Trillanes said that he agrees with Santiago's conclusion despite the shortcomings of Cunanan's testimony.

Escudero, on the other hand, said although Cunanan is like a pitbull, as he was obviously the one answering the counter affidavit of the senators linked to the pork scam scandal, he is still useful because his testimony answers directly the defense of the accused.

"The case of Cunanan is different. Cunanan is unique in a way because he is the only government official and employee who has testified that far about the pork barrel. Wala pang lumalabas na government official and employee tungkol dun," Escudero said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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