Cunanan challenges 3 senators to undergo lifestyle check | Inquirer News

Cunanan challenges 3 senators to undergo lifestyle check

(From left) Sen. Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA Philippines—Dismissing as a “demolition job” allegations he has lavish properties, Dennis Cunanan on Monday dared Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. to submit themselves to a lifestyle check, as he had offered to do, to clear the air in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

“If you are innocent as you publicly claim you are and you have nothing to hide, please submit yourselves to the same lifestyle check and execute waivers of the benefits of the bank secrecy law so the public may know once and for all who is telling the truth,” said Cunanan, the head of the Technology Resource Center (TRC).


Cunanan, who has gone on leave as TRC director general after he was implicated in the scam and later offered to become a state witness, appealed to the media not to disclose the location of the house where he and his family were staying, saying his household had been getting threats since it was publicized.


“I am ready to face the consequences of my decision, but please help me spare my wife and children and the rest of my family from danger because they have absolutely nothing to do with this,” said Cunanan, who has asked the Department of Justice to conduct a lifestyle check on him and examine his bank accounts.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima acknowledged that there were “real security concerns” surrounding Cunanan and the other government witnesses in the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to finance ghost projects and get kickbacks from the alleged brains behind the racket, detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

“We do not know where (the threats) are coming from so we want to be very careful, but of course we cannot afford to ignore those (threats),” De Lima told reporters.

De Lima said Cunanan would attend the Senate blue ribbon committee’s hearing on the pork barrel scam on Thursday.

He is expected to be questioned on his claims that Revilla and Estrada, as well as Gigi Reyes, the chief of staff of Enrile, had asked him to release their PDAF allotments to fake nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles.

Cunanan is one of 38 people, including the three senators and Napoles, named in the complaint filed in September last year in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the PDAF racket. The senators say the charges against them were fabricated.


Well-oiled smear campaign

In a statement, the 42-year-old TRC head referred to media reports that he owned a P40-million house in an exclusive subdivision in Quezon City as well as luxurious vehicles. The reports also said he did not declare them in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

He said the property was worth P12 million when it was built and later acquired by his brother Darius who was still amortizing it.

“My brother, who lives and works in Pampanga, offered to lease the house to me. I initially refused but my brother ultimately prevailed upon me to lease it from him at a concessional rate,” Cunanan said.

He said he had authorized his lawyer Odessa Bernardo to release to the media information on the house and lot.

Cunanan also denied news reports he owned a fleet of luxury vehicles, saying he only owns a 10-year-old van and two delivery trucks used for the family’s water-refilling business. He said his parents, siblings or in-laws would also lend him a car to use to drive his children to school.

“It is obviously part of a well-financed demolition job aimed at destroying my credibility as a possible witness for the state against the powerful masterminds of the PDAF scam,” Cunanan said.

He said that two days after the news reports, guards at his subdivision confronted occupants of a vehicle parked near his street who were filming the house. They claimed they were doing a documentary but refused to give their identities and instead hurriedly left.

Bracing for more attacks

Cunanan also lamented that some reputable public officials were being “unwittingly fed with maliciously slanted information in an effort to discredit” him.

He said he was “bracing” for more public attacks by his detractors and added he would try to “respond to them with all due candor and humility.”

“I would be the very first to admit that I am not faultless and I am not a saint,” Cunanan said, adding that he believed that this case was not about him but about public officials who had conspired with Napoles and earned kickbacks from the people’s money.

He said he knew that he had earned the ire of “very powerful people” and that was why he feared that his family would be in “grave and mortal danger if the wrong people get hold of these sensitive information.”

De Lima said personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Witness Protection Program were doubling security measures for Cunanan and the whistle-blowers who had received threats.

“We are taking extra precautions for everyone,” she said. She declined to elaborate.



Cunanan dares Enrile, Estrada, Revilla to submit to lifestyle check

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