Palace: Ombudsman to decide on Cunanan's guilt

Posted at 03/06/2014 11:00 PM

MANILA -- Malacanang is leaving it to the Office of the Ombudsman to decide on the matter of Dennis Cunanan's culpability in the pork barrel scam.

This, after key pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy said Cunanan himself was involved in the anomaly.

Cunanan, on-leave Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general, faced the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee earlier Thursday in connection with its investigation of the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

"Well, nasa pagpapasya na po yan ng mga kinauukulan. Batid natin na meron nang nakasalang na complaints sa Office of the Ombudsman at ang Office of the Ombudsman po ang magpapasya hinggil diyan. Yung naganap naman po ngayong umaga ay ibang proceedings yan, ano. Yan ay Senate investigation at ang pakay ay in aid of legislation, and in the performance of the congressional function of oversight, so wala na po kaming komento tungkol doon," Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said.

He added it is the Department of Justice's (DOJ) job to evaluate if Cunanan is fit to be a state witness.

"Tungkulin na po ng DOJ yan na suriin ang kapasidad ng iba't ibang indibidwal na gampanan yung sinasabing pagiging provisional witness or ano pa man na sa kanilang pagpasya ang nararapat para matagumpay na maisulong ang kasong ito," he said.

Asked if government is worried that Luy and his fellow whistleblowers may get demoralized over the possible use of Cunanan's testimony, Coloma said: "Ang mahalaga po rito ay yung manatiling focused tayo doon sa pagtamo ng katarungan at yung paghahanap sa katotohanan. Kasi hindi naman po natin mako-control ang mga emotional states ng iba't ibang mga indibidwal. But as a government, our focus is on seeing that justice will be carried out."

For now, Coloma said the DOJ's focus is prosecuting cases already filed in court in connection with the pork barrel scam and the Malamapaya fund scam.

"Ang natunghayan ko po na pahayag ni Secretary (Leila) de Lima ay sa ngayon ang focus ay doon lamang, doon sa dalawang naisampa na patungkol sa PDAF at ung isang patungkol sa Malampaya, na parang yon ang focus nila. Hindi na muna sila magdadagdag o magsasampa pa ng additional para maganap na yung dapat na maganap doon sa tatlong kaso. Iyon po ang aking pagkaunawa."

The hearing occured days after Luy changed his legal counsel, Levito Baligod.

Malacañang could not immediately say who is paying the services of Luy's new lawyers.

"Hindi ko po alam, ano. Ang akin lang pong batid diyan ay may pribilehiyo naman si Ginoong Luy na pumili ng kanyang sariling abogado. Aalamin po natin. I think meron - yung information was provided to you last night by Secretary (Edwin) Lacierda," Coloma said.

On late Wednesday night, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda identified Luy's new lawyers. "According to Sec. de Lima, Mr. Benhur Luy's lawyers are from the Mendoza Antero & Bautista Law Office. They are comprised of Atty. Raymund Joseph Ian O. Mendoza, Atty. Anel Martin S. Antero and Atty. Carl o Marco Bautista. Mr. Luy himself retained the new lawyers."

Tuason not a flight risk

Meanwhile, another pork barrel scam whistleblower, Ruby Tuason, has left for Hong Kong.

Malacañang said it is taking the DOJ's word that she is not a flight risk. "According to the DOJ, this was done with the full awareness of the administrators of the Witness Protection Program, and that her whereabouts and travel plans are known to the government."

Asked if they are confident she will come back, Coloma said: "Yon po ang pahayag ng mga taga-Department of Justice."

He noted there appears to be some miscommunication at the immigration bureau over the publication of Tuason's departure.

This, after de Lima maintained that the trip should have remained confidential.

"I think pinupuna niya yung aksyon mismo ng mga empleyado nila na kung bakit nagpahayag, at ang batid kong sagot naman ni Commissioner (Siegfred) Mison ng BI ay hina-handle na nila ito, ano. There's an apparent case of miscommunication hinggil diyan. It's the DOJ that is primarily responsible. Hindi po kami ang source of primary information tungkol dito sa mga bagay na ito - paglilinaw lang," Coloma said.