Pork scam whistleblower draws justice’s ire for ‘telenovela-like’ testimony
A whistleblower on Friday was criticized by a Sandiganbayan associate justice for adding details ‘‘a la telenovela’’ to her testimony about the alleged pork barrel scam.
During the bail hearing of Janet Lim-Napoles for plunder, Merlina Suñas, Napoles’ all-around assistant, said she saw Atty. Ruby Tuason in Napoles’ office to get kickbacks for Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
Tuason, Suñas said, served as Enrile’s agent for the scam. Tuason was the social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada and is accused of being the conduit for Senator Jinggoy Estrada to Napoles.
Napoles faces plunder for allegedly masterminding the scam of pillaging lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
Suñas recounted that Napoles told her other male employees, principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, John Raymund De Asis and Ronald John Lim, to accompany Tuason to her car after getting Enrile’s rebates.
When asked by Associate Justice Samuel Martires how she came to know the details, Suñas said she knew it because of the closed circuit television (CCTV).
But Suñas later clarified that she did not see the action in a CCTV footage.
“So dagdag mo na lang ‘yun kahit hindi mo alam (So you just added that detail even if you really don’t know it)?” Martires asked, to which Suñas answered: “Yes, your honor.”
Martires then asked Suñas if she watches telenovelas (television soap operas) and reads comics.
“Ano anong telenovela before the case was filed? Nanonood ka ba ng ‘Walang Hanggan (What telenovelas before the case was filed? Are you watching ‘Walang Hanggan)?'” Martires asked.
“Saan mo nakuha ang ugali mo na nagdadagdag (How did you get this habit of just adding details)?” the justice added.
Suñas denied having an attitude of adding details to her testimony that she did not witness.
“Hindi ko naman po ugali… Pero hindi ko po nakita na sumakay siya sa kanyang kotse,” Suñas said.
Suñas had earned the ire of the court when two justices accused her of having selective memory when she flipflopped on her testimony witnessing Napoles transact with former Pampanga solon now Energy Regulatory Commission chair Zenaida Ducut. Ducut is said to be Napoles’ conduit to solons in the House of Representatives.
Prosecutor Joefferson Toribio defended the whistleblower, saying Suñas is under pressure to testify that may have caused her to find difficulty in articulating her testimony.
“They are in a lot of stress. Buhay na nila yung PDAF scam,” Toribio said.
“But we in the prosecution believe she is telling the truth. (The problem is only) the articulation,” he added.