Sep 112014
Merlina Suñas, the whistleblower who accused Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad of once conspiring with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, has backpedaled from her statement, a defense lawyer claimed Thursday.

During cross-examination, Suñas supposedly denied that Abad benefited from any of Napoles’ schemes, a statement that ran contrary to her affidavit, said lawyer Remigio Michael Ancheta, legal counsel of Richard Cambe, an accused in the pork barrel scam case.

“The witness’ credibility is in question,” Ancheta said in an interview after the continuation of Revilla’s bail hearing.

“She stated in her affidavit that in 1997 to 1999, before senators, then-Congressman Butch Abad and others were already in on the scam. I asked her about what particular transactions she was referring to, and suddenly she said there were no transactions. I asked her if she was saying that part of her affidavit was not true, and she said it was not,” he said.

In a November 2013 affidavit, Suñas said that Abad was one of Napoles’ first conspirators in Congress when he was still Batanes congressman.

Abad has repeatedly denied transacting with Napoles, and claimed that he is being implicated in the pork barrel scam to destroy the credibility of the Aquino administration.

Suñas was testifying in the bail hearing of Cambe, Napoles and Cambe’s boss, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.

The three, along with Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, have been charged with graft and plunder for allegedly diverting millions of public funds to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) linked to Napoles.

Prosecution lawyer Joefferson Toribio, however, had a different interpretation of Suñas’ response to Ancheta’s questions, saying he merely confused the witness.

Toribio said the defense has repeatedly attacked the credibility of the whistleblowers, noting how some of their questions during cross-examination had strayed from what is stated in affidavits.

However, Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, who has been deputized to serve as special prosecutor in the pork barrel scam cases, said disparities between affidavits and testimonies are to be understood.

“Kapag ang testimonya ng witness ay perfect at walang kabutas butas, mas lalong di kapanipaniwala yun, kasi ibig sabihin, scripted. Di naman pwedeng perfect ang testimony at sakto sa affidavit,” Justiniano said in a separate interview. —KBK, GMA News

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