Jinggoy on Tuason, Cunanan: Perjured, coached witnesses

Posted at 03/12/2014 11:59 PM | Updated as of 03/13/2014 4:08 PM

- Jinggoy exposes Tuason's 'Malampaya Mansion'

- Cunanan made 80 trips in 10 years

- Senate footage of Tuason visits don't match dates on her affidavit

MANILA - "Perjured and coached witnesses with self-serving and polluted testimonies."

These and more are just some of the words Sen. Jinggoy Estrada used to describe socialite Ruby Tuason and Technology Resource Center head Dennis Cunanan for linking him and 2 opposition senators to the pork barrel scam.

He also claimed that a justice undersecretary is instructing these 2 witnesses to pin only him, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. to the scam.

In a privilege speech, Estrada questioned the characters of the two witnesses.

He said Cunanan "lied over and over again while under oath" before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing and even made misrepresentations about his educational background while Tuason tried to minimize her part in an alleged scheme to pocket Malampaya funds.

"Are these the kinds of witnesses that the [Department of Justice] is staunchly vouching for...People who cannot even be honest about their real educational background or people who would not hesitate to drag the names of a dead brother just to conceal their own guilt?" he asked.

"Has the DOJ deliberately omitted these facts from the Blue Ribbon Committee...or are they simply not aware of the backgrounds of these personalities? Is the DOJ now so desperate to pursue this case that they must employ half-truths and perjured testimonies?'

"Is this the handiwork of an undersecretary in the DOJ who, I am informed by unimpeachable sources, has repeatedly instructed the witnesses to focus only on this representation and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr?"

Estrada, Enrile and Revilla are among 38 respondents facing plunder, bribery and malversation raps before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing millions of pesos in pork barrel funds.

The scheme allegedly involved the funneling of discretionary priority development assistance funds (PDAF) of lawmakers to fake non-government organizations set up Janet Lim Napoles.

All three senators have denied any wrongdoing.

Tuason earlier testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that she acted as a go-between for Napoles and Senators Estrada and Enrile.

She said she twice delivered cash to Estrada in his 6th floor office in the Senate in the last quarter of 2008 and once in his house in Greenhills in 2004. One time, she also delivered P1 million in cash to Estrada at Zirkoh Comedy and Music Bar on Wilson Street in San Juan.

She also revealed that Estrada's own security aides had escorted her to the senator's office so that her bag would not be frisked.

"I think I did it twice. I used a hand-carry one time, yung may gulong…If the amount is small, if it is P1 million to P2 million kasya yun sa bag. It would fit in my big bag. At least twice. I only did [in] 2008 because after that, he went direct na [to Napoles]. He didn’t pass through me anymore,” she said.

In her affidavit submitted to the DOJ, Tuason listed the following dates for the release of the pork barrel scam kickbacks from JLN Group of Companies: March 6, 2008, September 17, 2008, October 16, 2008 and October 28, 2008.

Estrada, however, said CCTV footage from the Senate Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) showed that Tuason did not make visits on these dates.

Instead, the CCTV footage of the sixth floor of the Senate building where Estrada's office is located showed that Tuason made visits on November 17 and 19, 2008 and again in December 18, 2008.

The senator said in all three occasions, Tuason was not carrying a duffel bag.

MALAMPAYA MANSION

Estrada also questioned why Tuason, whom he described as a "stray cat," had to leave the country supposedly to raise the P40 million she pocketed from the scam that she promised to return to the government.

The senator noted that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was furious after the Bureau of Immigration confirmed Tuason's departure on March 2, less than a month after she returned to the Philippines.

He claimed Tuason's departure could be part of the deal she struck with government for testifying in the Senate.

"Who was she with and who was allowed to reach her? Who will she talk to? Indeed, what further lies could she concoct...Who paid for her ticket? Who is financing her travel and stay abroad? These questions need answers," he said.

Estrada also pointed out that Tuason did not need to go abroad to raise cash since she has many assets in the Philippines.

The senator said Tuason's mansion at 1510 Carissa Street, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City was worth P45 million when she first purchased it in 2009.

He also revealed that the mansion was called the "Malampaya mansion" by Tuason's close friends "because it was one of the first fruits of her Malampaya fund kickbacks, which is worth P242 million."

Estrada also revealed Tuason's other alleged assets including:

a) an P80 million capitalized corporation set up in October 2009 supposedly engaged in microbusiness activities

b) high-end jewelry store in a plush hotel in August 2013, managed by her niece

c) P12 million worth of membership shares at the Manila Polo Club for Tuason's two sons

d) a real estate property at the Las Vegas Country Club worth P6.3 million, purchased in 2008

e) another property in Oakland, California worth $150,000, purchased in September 2010

f) a house in Henderson, Nevada

g) property in Kawayan Cove in Cavite

h) townhouses in Alabang and Valle Verde

News reports said the Las Vegas property has already transferred ownership to Tuason's son, Francis, in September 2013, while the socialite was abroad.

BROTHER WAS DYING, ASKED ME FOR MONEY

Estrada questioned why the DOJ accepted Tuason's defense that it was her younger brother, Remy, who pocketed the P242 million in Malampaya funds.

He pointed out that Remy already had cancer and was asking for money from his office and the office of Senator Enrile in 2008-2010.

One time, he said he felt compassion for Remy because he was obviously very sick. "How could a person with cancer and who was near death earn commissions and still do wrong?" he asked.

He also said it was very convenient that Tuason is using the name of her dead brother to absolve herself of any guilt in the Malampaya fund scam.

"All too clever and very convenient for Mrs. Tuason to put all the blame and guilt on her dead brother. As the idiom goes - dead men tell no tales," he said.

Estrada said Tuason was given VIP treatment by the government in an effort to get her to testify in the scam.

"It will be remembered that Mrs. Tuason was fetched from abroad and grandly escorted back to Manila by NBI agents in February. While in Manila, Mrs. Tuason was pampered with security, complete with a yaya who carries her bag while she struts around, hailed as a 'slam dunk hero', a 'buzzer-beater' and a 'three-point winning shooter.'"

WHO ELSE DID CUNANAN TALK TO?

Meanwhile, Estrada also scored TRC chief Cunanan for saying that he was pressured to release Estrada's and Revilla's PDAF to Napoles NGOs.

Tuason had testified that he called the offices of Estrada, Revilla and Enrile to verify their signatures authorizing the release of their pork barrel funds.

However, Estrada reiterated that he had never spoken nor met Cunanan before, or had ever discussed his PDAF with the TRC chief. He also doubted Cunanan's claim that he knew Estrada's voice because of his movies.

Estrada, however, said he had only made a few movies since he was elected senator. "Baka hindi talaga siya nanood," he said.

The senator said that before joining the TRC as deputy director general in 2004, Cunanan was head executive assistant of the Office of the Speaker of the House from 2001 to 2004.

Cunanan, known also as "Decu," was also appointed Presidential Assistant for Youth Affairs under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after his stint in the House of Representatives.

He said Cunanan was also appointed to the Commission on Higher Education in 2004 but had to resign when it was learned that he did not have a college degree.

Estrada said Cunanan's previous work in the House of Representatives meant that he would be known by other lawmakers.

"It is not far-fetched that a lot of congressmen came to him and talked. If it is true that he called to verify my signatures, who else did he call? Why forget the names of these people? His former boss, hindi ba siya kinausap? Congressmen from Pampanga, hindi ba lumapit sa kanya? Did anyone tell him to just mention Enrile, Revilla and me?" he asked.

The senator said a Commission on Audit report shows that at least 200 lawmakers funneled P2.4 billion of their pork barrel funds to the TRC from 2007-2009, when Cunanan was deputy director general.

He said the P2.4 billion PDAF was released by TRC to 39 NGOs. Of the P2.4 billion, P250 million came from Estrada, Enrile and Revilla.

"More than 200 legislators, more than 30 NGOs and more than P2 billion went through TRC but Cunanan only remembered three lawmakers. Bakit?"

"Only P250 million from our PDAF went to TRC. What happened to the P2.2 billion?"

He said the only other lawmaker that Cunanan mentioned in his affidavit is already dead.

Estrada said other aspects of Cunanan's testimony did not add up, saying that the TRC chief was obviously working with Napoles and the other JLN employees for a long time.

"If they had been transacting for a long time with Luy, why the need to verify my signatures?"

He also debunked Cunanan's claim that TRC stopped implementing PDAF projects when he became director general in 2010. COA reports from 2010-2012 showed there were still allocations for NGOs coming from PDAF.

Estrada pointed out that PDAF releases from Congressmen Carlo Oliver Diasnes and Noel Florencio Bem went to Bantayog Kalinga Foundation Inc., according to COA. This is despite Bantayog's inclusion in the list of NGOs blacklisted by Cunanan.

80 TRIPS IN 10 YEARS

Estrada also bared Cunanan's allegedly lavish lifestyle including his alleged ownership of a house in White Plains Subdivision.

Cunanan earlier said he is only renting the P12 million house from his brother, Darius.

The senator, however, belied Cunanan's claim that Darius had the financial capability to buy the house. He said Darius' income tax return showed a compensation income of only P104,000 in 2007, the same year that he bought the house.

Estrada also debunked Cunanan's claim that Darius took a bank loan to purchase the home. He said that while Darius did take a loan, it was taken 10 days after the house was purchased.

He also said the bank loan was to build a trading company and that the house was used as collateral. Dennis Cunanan is identified as majority shareholder of the trading company, identified as Magalang Ciudad Enterprises.

Not content, Estrada also criticized Cunanan's jet-setting lifestyle, noting that the TRC chief took at least 80 trips abroad from 2004 to 2013.

He said immigration records showed that Cunanan traveled with his wife at least 32 times in the past four years.

Most of the trips were in first class or business class, Estrada said, with some lasting 4-5 days or even several weeks.

Estrada said he doubts that the Junior Chamber International or Jaycees sponsored Cunanan's trips.

"Pati ba naman Jaycees gagamitin niya sa pagsisinungaling? In 10 years that he was in the TRC, he traveled 80 times. Kahit sinong senador sa atin ay hindi makakapagbiyahe ng 80 beses sa loob ng 10 taon."

"Are all of these supported by the Jaycees? Napakasarap naman ng buhay nitong si Dennis Cunanan. Napakataas ng posisyon sa gobyerno kahit hindi qualified," Estrada added.

The senator said that ever since the PDAF controversy hit headlines last year, he and his fellow senators have been "vilified and depicted as the epitome and personification of corrupt public officials."

He criticized other senators who have been using the scam for their own political advantage to the point of asking that a special court try the PDAF scam cases.

Estrada denied that he, Revilla and Enrile have kept silent about the scam.

"I have already answered the charges against me and I will defend myself before the Sandiganbayan in the unfortunate event that an information is filed before it. I have said several times that I am one with the government and the public in finding the truth about the PDAF," he said.

"However, I cannot accept and will not allow the twisting of the truth to favor those in power and destroy a few."