MANILA, Philippines—The director general of the Technology Resource Center (TRC), who has taken an indefinite leave of absence, arrived in Manila on Friday night from the United States to face charges filed against him in connection with his alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
“I made true to my promise to return home and face the investigation about my possible involvement in the pork barrel scam,” said Dennis Cunanan in a statement.
The TRC reportedly released P580.85 million in pork barrel funds from Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, and 23 representatives, including Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva, to eight dubious NGOs allegedly controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged mastermind of the scam.
“I read in the news that flight indicates probable guilt. In my case, I was already abroad when the case was filed and I immediately came home to face the charges. My only hope is that they will give me a fair and reasonable opportunity to clear my name and prove my innocence in this case,” Cunanan said.
Cunanan was among five incumbent and former heads of four government-owned and -controlled corporations that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) charged on Sept. 16 with either plunder or malversation, and graft and corrupt practices in the Office of the Ombudsman.
The NBI filed the charges against a total of 38 people, including the three senators, the representatives and the alleged mastermind of the scam, Napoles, who is detained in a police training facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Based on the affidavits of whistle-blowers, the NBI said the lawmakers pocketed 40 to 60 percent of the project costs funded through their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of the pork barrel.
Cunanan said he left the country on Sept. 13 for the United States to attend a scheduled meeting of the Junior Chamber International of which he is the incoming secretary general.
He said the meeting was to last for more than a week but he decided to cut his trip short to allay concerns that he was in hiding. He arrived on Sept. 20 on Delta flight 173.
Cunanan said he had nothing to do with the PDAF-related projects that the TRC processed in 2007-2009, now the subject of the PDAF scam case.
“The records will show that when I was appointed TRC director general in January 2010, I immediately directed all nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) that had pending accounts and deficiencies with the TRC to liquidate their accounts and settle their deficiencies,” he said.
“After affording them a reasonable opportunity to do so, I issued a memorandum on July 16, 2010, blacklisting no less than 44 NGOs and POs and banning them from doing business with TRC, including the eight NGOs that are identified with Mrs. Napoles.
“In fact, the COA special audit team expressed its appreciation for this action of the TRC management as reflected in their SAO Report No. 2012-03 Annex D, Page 279 that was released this August 2013.”
Cunanan said he issued in 2010 a memorandum adopting more stringent guidelines in the processing of PDAF projects by TRC in compliance with COA recommendations.
“The COA special audit team in fact also expressed its appreciation for the efforts taken by TRC management in this regard, as reflected in SAO Report No. 2012-03 Annex D, Page 280.”