Você está na página 1de 157

The Corona impeachment trial: A GMA News primer

January 16, 2012 6:05pm What is impeachment? Impeachment is a political process dealing with the misconduct of specific high-ranking public officials. Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban recently wrote that impeachment belongs more to the people than to lawyers, more to public wisdom than to legalisms. It is a power of Congress and part of the checks and balances of the legislative branch with the executive branch and the judicial branch, as well as other independent bodies of government. The House of Representatives has the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment, while the Senate has the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding. The only penalties are censure or removal from office. However, once removed from office, the impeached officer can be prosecuted criminally through the regular courts. Who can be impeached? Only 31 public officials can be impeached. These are the: President Vice President 15 justices of the Supreme Court (including the Chief Justice) Ombudsman Members of the:

Civil Service Commission (one Chairman, two Commissioners) Commission on Elections (one Chairman, six Commissioners) Commission on Audit (one Chairman, two Commissioners)

What are the impeachable offenses?

Culpable violation of the Constitution Treason Bribery Graft and Corruption Betrayal of public trust Other high crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and other laws

What are articles of impeachment? This refers to the legal document drawn up by the House of Representatives charging an official with specific impeachable offenses. What punishment can be imposed on an impeached public official?

Censure, which is basically a reprimand and allows the impeached official to stay in office; or Removal from public office, which includes disqualification to hold any other public office.

Who has been impeached in the Philippines? The first official to be impeached in the country was former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, in November 2000. His impeachment trial at the Senate was cut short by a popular uprising in January 2001 that deposed Estrada and catapulted his then vice president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to the presidency. The second is former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who was impeached in March 2011 for alleged betrayal of public trust due to the low conviction rates during her term and her supposed inaction on five high-profile cases. However, she resigned a few days before the start of her impeachment trial in May, prompting the Senate to archive her case. The third is Chief Justice Renato Corona, who was impeached in December 2011 for alleged betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, and graft and corruption. (In 2003, an impeachment attempt against former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. did not push through because the Supreme Court ruled that the second impeachment complaint filed against him was prohibited by the one-year ban under the Constitution. Interestingly, Davide was the presiding officer during the Estrada impeachment trial. This was because when the President is impeached,

the Chief Justice presides not in the Supreme Court, but rather in the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.) What is the significance of the Corona impeachment trial? If the impeachment trial runs its full course and the House prosecution panel succeeds in getting a conviction, Corona will become the first Philippine official to be removed through impeachment. How many times can a public official face impeachment? The Constitution provides that No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year. The Supreme Court has clarified that the term to initiate refers to the filing of the impeachment complaint coupled with Congress taking initial action of said complaint. That means, in the case of Chief Justice Corona, no other impeachment proceeding can be initiated against him until December 12 this year because he was impeached on December 12 last year. Who gets to file impeachment complaints? The 1987 Constitution provides that: A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement by any [House] Member. At least one-third of the entire membership of the House has to endorse the complaint before it is deemed to constitute the articles of impeachment and goes to the Senate for trial. In impeaching Chief Justice Corona, only 95 votes out of 284 Representatives in the 15th Congress were needed. But those who endorsed the impeachment complaint numbered 188. Who gets to prosecute Chief Justice Corona in the impeachment case? The House of Representatives has designated 11 of its members to constitute the prosecution panel in the impeachment case. The panel is assisted by private counsels who shall remain under the control and supervision of the panel of prosecutors. Who will defend Chief Justice Corona during the trial at the Senate?

Corona has secured the services of his own lawyers to defend him at the impeachment trial. What are the Articles of Impeachment against Corona? 1. partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration; 2. failure to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN); 3. his role in the issuance of flip-flopping decisions in final and executory cases, the appointment of his wife to a public office, and discussing pending cases in the SC with litigants; 4. his role in the issuance of the status quo ante order against the House of Representatives in the case concerning the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez; 5. his vote in the decision in favor of gerrymandering in the cases involving 16 newly-created cities, and the promotion of Dinagat Island into a province; 6. improper creation of the SC ethics committee; 7. granting a temporary restraining order in favor of former President Arroyo; and 8. failure and refusal to account for the Judicial Development Fund and special allowance for the judiciary collections. What is needed to remove Corona from office? Conviction in just one of the eight articles of impeachment filed against him would be enough to remove Corona from office. How many votes are needed to convict Corona? At least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate must vote in favor of conviction. Normally, this would mean 16 senators out of 24-member upper chamber. However, in the 15th Congress, there are only 23 Senators because Senator Benigno Aquino III did not finish his term of office after being elected President in 2010. Moreover, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is set to leave the Senate later in the year to assume her new post as Judge in the new International Criminal Court, which would further reduce the membership of the Senate to 22. Thus, it is possible that only 15 votes are needed to convict an impeached official. Put another way, acquittal of the impeached official would require at least seven votes or one vote less as compared to a 24-member Senate.

Is there a deadline for Corona's impeachment trial? Since the Senate of the 15th Congress is trying Corona's impeachment case, that means the trial will have to end before the officials of the 16th Congress assume office in June 2013. Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto has said the impeachment trial may be over by March 23, before Congress takes its Holy Week break. Is the Senate's decision in an impeachment case subject to appeal? No. The Senate Rules in impeachment trials states that after a vote for conviction or acquittal, there can be no motion for reconsideration. Moreover, the accused cannot ask the Supreme Court to overturn the judgment because the Constitution gives the Senate the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. - HS/YA, GMA News This primer was prepared by Marlon Anthony R. Tonson, a lawyer who once worked for the Supreme Court Public Information Office during the failed impeachment attempt against former Chief Justice Hilario Davide in 2003. He also served as a Journal officer of the Senate, summarizing portions of the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada in 2000-2001. Additional inputs and editing by GMA News Online managing editor Yasmin Arquiza. Sources: 1987 Philippine Constitution, art. XI. Rules of the 15th Congress:

Senate Rules of Procedures on Impeachment Trials House of Representatives Rules of Procedures in Impeachment Proceedings Gutierrez vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 193459, 15 February 2011. Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003.

Supreme Court decisions

Day 1: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 16, 2012 8:24pm Call to order

At 2:10 p.m. Monday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, as the Presiding Officer, called to order the Senate sitting as an Impeachment Court. Only 21 out of 23 senators answered the roll call. Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Loren Legarda were absent. Enrile delivered a short statement stating the role and function of the Senate in the impeachment trial.

Introduction of panels and a plea of not guilty


Members of the House prosecution panel led by Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. made their entry of appearance for the impeachment courts record. Private prosecutors entered their appearance, stating that they are under the direct supervision and control of the public prosecutors from the House of Representatives. Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, head of the defense team, made a manifestation for the record. He said the defendant, Chief Justice Renato Corona, was present in the gallery of the session hall to show his respect for the Senate sitting as an Impeachment Court.

Cuevas also manifested that Corona was entering a plea of not guilty to all charges in the articles of impeachment. Senator Franklin Drilon, however, told Cuevas that he is only being asked to enter the appearance of the defense team and not make manifestations yet.

The remaining members of Coronas defense team made their entry of appearance.

Impeachment court denies Coronas motion for a preliminary hearing

Upon the motion of Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto, the Senate tackled the motion for a preliminary hearing filed by Coronas defense team regarding the verification of the impeachment complaint, which Corona claims was "fatally defective."

Presenting the arguments of the defense, Cuevas said the defect in the verification of the complaint goes into the jurisdiction of the impeachment court, stressing the more important element of due process because procedures were not followed.

Presiding Officer Enrile denied the request of Rep. Tupas to allow private prosecutor Mario Bautista to argue for the prosecution panel regarding the verification of the impeachment complaint.

Speaking for the prosecution panel, Tupas argued that the impeachment process was done in accordance with the rules of the House of the Representatives. He presented a copy of the House journal showing that the 188 signatures in the impeachment complaint were verified by House secretary-general Marilyn Baura-Yap.

Ruling on the motion, Presiding Officer Enrile denied Coronas motion for a preliminary hearing for lack of merit.

Motion for indirect contempt denied

The Senate tackled the motion filed by lawyer Fernando Perito to cite the members of the prosecution team for indirect contempt for presenting at a press conference the deed of sale of Coronas condominium unit at The Bellagio in Taguig.

Presiding Officer Enrile denied the petition because Perito does not have standing in the impeachment court, pointing out that [Perito] is neither a lawyer for the defense or lawyer for a participant in this proceeding.

Action on presentation of evidence noted

Presiding Officer Enrile noted Coronas motion to take appropriate action against the prosecution team regarding the presentation of evidence to the media. Enrile requested all parties to refrain from making public statements, stressing that the impeachment case is for the Senate to decide and not the general public who are not under oath.

Opening statements

Lead Prosecutor Rep. Tupas delivered the opening statement for the House panel. He laid down the eight articles of impeachment that he said would show that Corona had committed betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the law, and graft and corruption. He said Corona failed to file his statements of assets, liabilities and net-worth (SALNs)

and showed partiality to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in several high court decisions. He also presented a slide show on the properties allegedly owned by Corona.

Atty. Eduardo delos Angeles delivered the opening statement for the Corona defense team. Delos Angeles denied the accusation that his client failed to file SALNs properly, and dismissed the slide-show presentation of alleged Corona properties as irrelevant to the case because these were not included in the articles of impeachment. He pointed out that in decisions of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice has only one vote and cannot tell the other 14 justices how to vote.

Adjournment

At 3:37 p.m., the Presiding Officer adjourned the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona until 2:00 p.m. the following day.

- Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/YA/HS/KG, GMA News

Day 2: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 17, 2012 6:53pm Call to order

At 2:04 p.m. Tuesday, Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile called to order the Senate sitting as an Impeachment Court. Two of the 23 senators were absent during the proceedings: Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago is on sick leave while Senator Loren Legarda is in the United States.

Denial of request to subpoena Belmonte, 5 others

The Presiding Officer ruled that the request of the defense panel to subpoena House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, chief prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., former Deputy Speaker Jesus Crispin Remulla, House Secretary General Marilyn Yap, Batangas Rep. Herminaldo Mandanas, and Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco had been rendered moot because the Senate had upheld the verification of the articles of impeachment the previous day.

Denial of request to subpoena Corona and family

Presiding Officer Enrile announced that he has a written ruling on the House prosecutors request to subpoena the chief justice, his wife, their children, and their sonin-law.

Corona defense counsel Justice Serafin Cuevas manifested his camps intention to block the move, but when Enrile said his written ruling was in favor of the defense, Cuevas desisted.

Senate Secretary Emma Lirio-Reyes, acting as the Clerk of Court of the impeachment body, read the ruling denying the prosecution panels request on the following grounds:

On Chief Justice Corona - because of the constitutional guarantee that no person can

be compelled to be a witness against himself, because of established Philippine and American jurisprudence, and because the Senate Rules of Procedure in Impeachment

Trials does not require the impeached official to appear at the trial; o On Coronas wife - because of spousal privilege embodied in the marital

disqualification rule under the Rules of Court; o On Coronas children - because parental and filial privilege under the Rules of Court

provides that no child may be made to testify against a parent; and o On Coronas son-in-law - because under the doctrine of necessary implication, he is

also covered by parental and filial privilege. House prosecutor appeals, then withdraws appeal on subpoena ruling

House lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. manifested that the prosecution panel would be filing a written motion for reconsideration of the Presiding Officers ruling to deny their subpoena request.

The Presiding Officer reminded Tupas that the right to compel witnesses to appear at the trial pertains to the defense and not the prosecution. Tupas then withdrew his objection to the Presiding Officers ruling.

Senator Cayetano objects to denial of subpoena for Corona family

Although he agreed to the ruling denying the issuance of a subpoena for Corona, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano put on record his reservations regarding the ruling on Coronas wife, children, and son-in-law.

Cayetano said the proper procedure was to issue a subpoena first, then allow the rest of Coronas family to claim the marital and filial privileges afterwards In particular, Cayetano appealed to the Presiding Officer to amend his ruling as regards Coronas son-in-law because the Supreme Court has held that in-laws are not covered by parental and filial privilege.

Senate votes to uphold ruling on denial of subpoena for Corona family

To resolve the issue, the ruling was submitted to a vote. With 14 voting in favor and six voting against it, the ruling to deny the House prosecutions subpoena request was upheld.

The senators who voted in favor were: Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, Senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Franklin Drilon, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Sergio Osmena III, Francis Pangilinan, Ralph Recto, and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.

Those against the ruling were: Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel III, Teofisto Guingona III, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Manuel Villar.

Subpoenas issued for Registers of Deeds, titles to 45 alleged Corona properties

The Presiding Officer said he had granted the request to subpoena the certificates of ownership, as well as the respective Registers of Deeds of the various cities, as regards the 45 alleged real estate properties of Corona.

The properties are worth more than P200 million, which is deemed as grossly disproportionate to Coronas income as Supreme Court Justice.

Private prosecutors allowed in impeachment trial

Presiding Officer Enrile dismissed the defense teams motion to exclude private prosecutors from the impeachment trial, pointing out that the Senate Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Trials specifically allow private prosecutors to assist the House public prosecutors.

On the similarity between an impeachment and a criminal case


The House prosecution panel took exception to the Presiding Officers statement on the criminal nature of the impeachment proceedings. Lead prosecutor Tupas explained that the position of the House prosecution panel was that the impeachment trial is not akin to a criminal proceeding, but rather is sui generis or in a class of its own. He said that his camp would submit a legal memorandum to bolster their arguments.

In response, the Presiding Officer read into the record a statement on the sui generis nature of impeachment proceedings which, however, does not conflict with his observation that impeachment is akin to a criminal case.

Prosecution ready to present evidence on Article II

House prosecutor Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said the prosecution panel was prepared to tackle Article II, which accuses Corona of nondisclosure of his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). But lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said the defense camp was not prepared to tackle Article II yet.

Barzaga insisted that their camp had the prerogative to determine the sequence of presentation. But Cuevas argued that the prosecutions choice to determine the sequence of presentation is merely discretionary and not a matter of right.

The defense team said it wanted to tackle Article I, which accused Corona of partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration.

Debate on the sequence of presentation of Articles of Impeachment


The Presiding Officer asked Barzaga why the prosecution panel was tackling the second article of impeachment first, instead of article I. Barzaga said all eight articles of impeachment were equally important to the prosecution. Senator Joker Arroyo suggested that the prosecution disclose the order by which they plan to tackle the eight articles of impeachment to allow the defense team and the senators to know what to study beforehand.

House panel to submit sequence of presentation

Senator Angara said the senators and their staff also want to know which article of impeachment to prepare for. He reiterated the motion of Senator Arroyo to have the prosecution submit a document detailing the sequence for tackling the articles of impeachment.

The Presiding Officer adopted Arroyos suggestion. Lead public prosecutor Tupas said their camp will submit a written manifestation revealing the sequence of presentation of the articles of impeachment.

Prosecution only has computer-generated documents


The Presiding Officer asked the House prosecutors whether they would be marking documentary evidence, presenting evidence, or asking for a postponement. Barzaga said the prosecution was in possession of computer-generated land titles of Coronasassets. But he admitted that he wants the trial postponed so that they could further prepare their pieces of evidence.

Adjournment

To give the prosecution more time to prepare evidence, the Presiding Officer suspended the session and adjourned the impeachment trial at 3:57 p.m. Tuesday. The trial will resume at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday.

- Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/YA/HS, GMA News

Day 3: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 19, 2012 12:34am Call to order

Wednesdays session begins at 2:05 pm with a roll call. Senators Loren Legarda and Miriam Defensor-Santiago are absent.

Re-ordering of articles of impeachment

House lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. informed the impeachment court that the prosecution panel will first tackle article II, which deals with Chief Justice Renato Coronas supposed nondisclosure of his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) from 2002 until 2011.

Next, the prosecutors will present evidence to support allegations under Article I, which accuses Corona of partiality and subservience in cases involving the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who had appointed him as chief justice.

The third to be tackled will be Article VII, which deals with alleged irregularities in granting a temporary restraining order to Arroyo last November.

SC Clerk of Court refuses to submit SALNs of Corona

The prosecution panel presented as its first witness SC Clerk of Court Enriqueta Esguerra-Vidal. Private prosecutor Mario Bautista conducted the questioning of the witness.

Vidal said the Justices submit their SALNs to the Clerk of Court every year before April 30. However, she said her office did not keep a logbook of all the SALNs filed. Initially, Vidal refused to produce Coronas SALNs, saying the documents are kept in a filing cabinet in the office of the Clerk of Court. Vidal said only she and her Deputy Clerk of Court had the keys to the cabinet.

Vidal said the impeachment courts subpoena for her to produce the SALNs partakes of a request of the SALN. She said a resolution issued by the SC en banc in 1989 restricted her from releasing the SALNs without authorization from the high court.

Since 1989, there have been less than ten requests to see the SALNs of justices and none have been granted, Vidal said. She added that as Clerk of Court, she always includes requests for the SALNs in the SCs agenda for the approval of the justices.

Tug-of-war on submission of Coronas SALNs

Senator-judge Franklin Drilon asked Vidal if she would produce the SALNs in case the SC would deny the request of the Senate subpoena. Vidal said she would if the impeachment court required her to, adding that she believes the SC would grant the request and she simply needed time to get the high courts approval.

Upon the Presiding Officers inquiry, Vidal admitted that she had brought Coronas SALNs with her. However, producing Coronas SALNs placed her in a quandary: although she is covered by the rules of the impeachment court, she is also covered by the rules in the SC en banc resolution.

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano told Vidal that the subpoena is not a request but an order of the Impeachment Court. Senator-judge Francis Pangilinan said it is the duty of the Impeachment Court to avoid delays. He added that seeking the Supreme Courts authorization to release Coronas SALNs would diminish the impeachment courts authority.

Senator-judge Teofisto Guingona said that although the judiciary is co-equal to the legislature and the Senate is but half of a bicameral Congress, the Senate was now sitting as an impeachment Court in the trial of the chief justice.

Senator-judge Joker Arroyo warned that producing Coronas SALNs during the session would trigger a constitutional crisis between the SC and the Senate sitting as the Impeachment Court. He asked that Vidal be given just one more day to get the clearance of the SC.

SC clerk of court finally surrenders SALNs

Senator-judge Panfilo Lacson was about to have the matter put to a vote, but the Presiding officer ruled that Vidal must submit the SALNs. Presiding Officer Enrile pointed out to Vidal that the subpoena was addressed to her and not to the Supreme Court.

The Presiding Officer instructed lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas to ask his client, CJ Corona, to make sure that Vidal would not be sanctioned for releasing his SALNs to comply with the Senate subpoena.

Vidal finally complied and turned over Coronas SALNs to the Senate secretariat. The House prosecution panel, then Coronas defense team, marked Coronas SALNs as evidence.

No public disclosure of Coronas SALNs as SC Justice

In reply to a query from defense counsel Cuevas, Vidal agreed that Corona had substantially complied with the constitutional provision on SALNs by regularly filing the required document.

However, when asked by Pangilinan if there was ever any public disclosure of Coronas SALNs, Vidal replied in the negative. Escudero pointed out that the second article of impeachment states failure to disclose the SALNs.

Malacaang Records Officer submits Corona's previous SALNs

The House prosecution panel called as its second witness Malacaang Records Office chief Marianito Dimaandal. He was examined by private prosecutor Jose Justiniano, who said Corona's 1992-2002 SALNs would show a pattern in the chief justices alleged amassing of wealth.

The Presiding Officer noted Coronas defense teams objection to Dimaandal as a prosecution witness. On cross-examination by defense counsel Cuevas, Dimaandal admitted that he cannot attest to the accuracy of the entries in Coronas SALNs .

Dimaandal produced Coronas SALNs during the years that Corona had worked in Malacaang. The marking of the SALNs was scheduled at 10 am Thursday, January 19, before the resumption of the trial.

Adjournment At 7:09 pm, the trial was adjourned until 2 pm Thursday. - Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/YA, GMA News

Day 4: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 19, 2012 7:00pm Call to order

Thursdays trial began at 2:03 pm Senator-judges Teofisto Guingona III, Loren Legarda, and Miriam Defensor-Santiago were absent.

Taguig Register of Deeds produces Corona condo title

The prosecution panel presented as its third witness Taguig-Pateros Register of Deeds Randy Rutaquio. House prosecutor Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. conducted the direct examination.

Barzaga said subpoenas were sent for certificates of title to 12 real estate properties in Taguig purportedly owned by Corona and his wife, Ma. Cristina, and that the prosecution would present six of the titles.

Rutaquio produced the certificate of title to a 330-square meter condominium unit with three parking lots in The Bellagio in Taguig, valued at P14.6 million, under the name of Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina.

Rutaquio also produced the deed of sale on a property sold by Megaworld Corp. to Corona which was subsequently sold to the magistrates daughter, Ma. Charina Corona. In response to questions from Senator-judge Franklin Drilon, Rutaquio said the name of the chief justice appeared as the attorney-in-fact of his daughter. Enrile asked if the property no longer belonged to CJ Corona because it was transferred to his daughter Charina, and Rutaquio said yes.

Defense blocks presentation of evidence on Corona property

Upon cross-examination by defense counsel Serafin Cuevas, Rutaquio admitted that he was not present when the certificates of title and deeds of sale were processed. However, he was quick to add that the documents would not have reached him unless

these had passed through the normal registration process of the Registry of Deeds of Taguig.

Cuevas said the allegation that Corona amassed ill-gotten wealth while in the Supreme Court wasbased merely on suspicions, and that the presentation of evidence on the properties of Corona and his relatives violates the chief justices right to due process.

The Presiding Officer ruled that the presentation of evidence on Coronas properties was proper since these assets pertain to Coronas SALNs, which are the subject of Article II.

Confusion regarding Article II

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano noted that Article II of the Articles of Impeachment accuses Corona of three things: that he failed to file his SALNs, that he did not include all his assets in his SALNs, and that he amassed ill-gotten wealth.

Cayetano asked Barzaga how the House prosecutors came up with the charges when they had not yet seen the SALNs. Barzaga said the charges were based on reports. Senator-judge Francis Escudero asked House lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. about the authorship of the Articles of Impeachment, pointing out that Article II accused Corona of not one but three separate acts. Tupas said he and several legislators wrote the Articles of Impeachment.

Escudero expressed confusion and said each article of impeachment must accuse Corona of a singular act. He asked both the prosecution and defense panels to submit their legal memoranda to clarify what are the charges under Article II. Both panels said they would comply with the request.

Speeding up the proceedings

Tupas manifested that the lead counsel was not only objecting to the evidence but also lecturing to the prosecution and raising technicalities, which he said was a waste of time. However, Presiding Officer Enrile said he has made a ruling to allow arguments so that the impeachment court will not be accused of railroading the proceedings, and also for the sake of the public.

Enrile suggested that the prosecution meet with the witnesses and pre-mark the documents before the hearing to speed up the process, and also to mark evidence for the entire document to avoid confusion over too many markings.

BIR chief fails to bring records

Prosecutor Tupas requested the court to excuse Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) chief Kim Henares from the proceedings, as she was not able to bring the income tax returns of Corona and his family.

Presiding officer Enrile allows Henares to be excused and ordered her to return on Tuesday. He also reminded the BIR that the release of ITRs requires the approval of the President.

QC property sold to Coronas daughter


The House prosecution panel presented as its fourth witness Acting Quezon City Register of Deeds Carlo Alcantara. During direct examination by private prosecutor Jose Justiniano, Alcantara said Coronas wife, Cristina, sold the Burgundy property to their daughter, Carla CoronaCastillo. Alcantara affirmed that the sale price was accepted by Carlas attorney-in-fact, her father Chief Justice Corona. (In sales transactions, the attorney-in-fact acts as the agent representing either the buyer or the seller.)

The defense panel described the titles that are not in CJ Coronas name as immaterial and impertinent to the impeachment trial. Defense counsel Cuevas asked for time to go through all the certificates of titles and deeds of sale produced that day. He said they would continue with the crossexamination of Alcantara next week.

Marikina properties

The prosecution presented Marikina Register of Deeds Sedfrey Garcia to testify on the titles in the name of Corona and his wife Cristina. He was asked to return on Tuesday to continue his testimony.

Eleven more witnesses were supposed to have been presented. Enrile directed the witnesses to come back at 8 a.m. Tuesday to give more time for the marking of documents.

Adjournment

Thursdays session adjourned at 6:03 pm. The impeachment trial will resume at 2 p.m. Tuesday, January 24.

- Marlon Anthony R. Tonson with reports from Kimberly Jane Tan and Andreo Calonzo/YA, GMA News

Day 5: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 24, 2012 4:02pm Call to order

The trial resumed on Tuesday at 2:03 p.m. Senator-judge Loren Legarda was absent.

Corona still presumed innocent

Senator-judge Gregorio Honasan asked both the prosecution and defense panels to put on record whether the presumption of innocence was applicable in the trial.

House panel lead prosecutor Rep. Neil Tupas Jr. affirmed that Chief Justice Renato Corona was still presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the impeachment trial.

Defense team lead counsel Serafin Cuevas agreed that everyone must adhere to the principle and cannot deviate from observance of due process.

The Presiding Officer, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, appealed to both parties to limit their arguments because the public was becoming impatient in waiting for the impeachment court to find out the truth.

Justice delayed is justice denied

Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago pointed out the quasi-political and quasijudicial nature of the impeachment trial, which dictates the need for a speedy trial that would satisfy the public while adhering to the applicable rules of court. But she said the Rules of Court do not apply totally to the impeachment proceedings.

After asking the House prosecutors how many witnesses and documents they intend to present during the entire proceedings, Santiago chided the panel for being unprepared

and suggested that they come up with a trial brief to avoid waste of time. House lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. said they had intended to present seven witnesses Tuesday but could not yet tell how many would be presented during the entire trial, nor how many documents they would submit to the impeachment court.

The Corona defense panel said they will present a total of 15 witnesses and have already marked 23 documents so far. Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said they would present no less than 25 documents during the entire trial.

Upon the suggestion of Santiago, the court ordered the prosecution and defense panels to eachsubmit a list of their witnesses and documents to be presented until the end of the trial.

Standard of proof

Santiago raised the question on which standard of proof to use in deciding the Corona impeachment case: preponderance of evidence as used in civil cases, or proof beyond reasonable doubt as required in criminal proceedings.

Santiago then suggested that the standard of substantial evidence as used in administrative cases be the standard of proof in deciding the impeachment case, to which the prosecution agreed.

But the defense panel pushed for proof beyond reasonable doubt instead, considering that the penalty for conviction is almost a death sentence if the impeached official gets barred from holding public office forever.

Upon motion of Santiago and without any objection from the senator-judges, the impeachment court decided to resolve the issue in caucus behind closed doors.

Defense says ill-gotten wealth in Article II mere allegations

The Presiding Officer recalled that on day 4 of the trial, the prosecutors and the defense team were ordered to submit their respective memoranda on what either side

considered as covered by Article II (non-disclosure of SALNs, ill-gotten wealth). Tupas asked that the House prosecutors be given more time to submit their memorandum.

But the defense team submitted its memorandum and Cuevas was allowed to expound on their arguments. Cuevas said allegations on ill-gotten wealth were conjectural and speculative and did not merit a denial.

Tupas, however, maintained that strict court rules on pleadings were not applicable in impeachment proceedings, adding that pleadings must be liberally construed and that the defense team filed no Motion to Dismiss in response to the ill-gotten wealth charge.

Cuevas argued, however, that pleadings can only be liberally construed when they are vague, and not when they are based on suspicions or reports as was the allegation of ill-gotten wealth.

Miriam: Admit evidence, avoid 2nd envelope scenario

Santiago said that whenever there is doubt, the Senate must admit the evidence presented by the panels. She proposed that the rules be liberally construed in admitting evidence to avoid suspicions by the public, recalling the recriminations heaped on senator-judges who voted againstopening the second envelope in the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada.

Santiago proposed that since there was already sufficient notice given to Corona that the Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue would be called to testify in the trial, then the defense team should be given three days to answer the ill-gotten wealth charge.

Prosecution asks for flexibility in presenting evidence

Tupas noted that the trial has been conducted similar to a criminal proceeding, and that the strict application of the technical rules had unduly restricted the prosecution panels presentation of evidence. In particular, he objected to the defense team raising objections 30 times and making the prosecutors revise their questions at least 20 times.

The Presiding Officer asked the House prosecutors to what extent they wanted the rules of the impeachment court to be relaxed. Tupas said the prosecution panel was just asking for flexibility to ask questions, but could not offer specific suggestions.

Senator-judges Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Pangilinan and Manny Villar stood up to convey their sentiments but in the end, they expressed support for the Presiding Officers handling of the trial.

The Presiding Officer reminded everyone that the Senate sitting as an Impeachment Court was neither for anyone nor against anyone.

Adjournment

The Presiding Officer reminded the House prosecutors to first submit no later than 10 a.m. Wednesday their memorandum regarding the coverage of Article II, considering that the defense team had already complied with the Impeachment Court order for submission of memoranda.

Tuesdays hearing was adjourned at 3:41 p.m. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

- Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/YA, GMA News

Day 6: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 25, 2012 6:06pm Call to order

Wednesdays session started at 2:06 pm. Senators Loren Legarda and Koko Pimentel were absent when Senate President and Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile declared the resumption of the trial of the impeachment case of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Evidence on alleged ill-gotten wealth disallowed

Enrile announced that after meeting in a caucus, the senator-judges decided that the impeachment court would allow the introduction of evidence on impeachment Article II, paragraphs 2.2 and 2.3, but not the introduction of evidence for paragraph 2.4.

However, Senator-judge Franklin Drilon clarified that the impeachment court had not yet ruled on Article II paragraph 2.4, which alleged ill-gotten wealth. Instead, he stated that evidence for paragraph 2.4 was merely subject to admissibility.

House lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said his panel reserved the right to file a motion for reconsideration upon receipt of the courts written resolution. But Senatorjudge Francis Escudero pointed out that only senator-judges can seek reconsideration of a ruling of the Presiding Officer, and not any of the parties to the impeachment case.

Enrile said that with respect to the subpoenaed income tax returns (ITRs) of Corona and his family, the prosecution panel must first show the connection of the ITRs to the impeachment case.

BIR commissioner takes witness stand

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares took the witness stand. Private Prosecutor Arthur Lim conducted the direct examination.

Lim said the prosecution offered Henares testimony to show that Corona had acquired properties declared in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) but not justified by his income as reported to the BIR, and that Corona had tried to hide some of these properties under the names of his children.

Defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas objected to the purpose of the offer, stating that Henares had to testify on personal knowledge of the documents and that any evidence would be immaterial, irrelevant, and impertinent, and thus inadmissible as evidence to prove Article II.

Lim explained that the prosecution wants the witness to authenticate public documents submitted to her office. He said this would show that the Corona couple cannot justify their acquisition of condominium units and other properties after considering the couples income.

Cuevas said that if the only purpose of Henares testimony was authentication, then the defense team would admit all documents relating to the Coronas ITRs as genuine documents in the BIR records.

As Lim and Cuevas were deliberating loudly, Senator-judge Miriam Defensor Santiago set them straight about proper court decorum.

Coronas income from SC

Enrile asked Lim to state the purpose for presenting Coronas ITRs. Lim replied that the income the Coronas declared under oath in their ITRs from 2002 to 2010 would show that the couple cannot justify their acquisition of expensive properties.

But Enrile pointed out that the trial dealt with Coronas SALNs, and that whatever Corona did before becoming Chief Justice had no relevance to the impeachment trial. He told the prosecutors that if they had evidence to show that Corona had properties not declared in his SALNs, then they should now produce such evidence to the court.

Lim said Corona had not filed income tax returns from 2002 to 2010 because he was on the alpha list of employees whose income taxes are withheld by the SC. The list is submitted annually to the BIR, which classified Corona as a local employee of the Supreme Court whose income came solely from his government salaries and did not earn any income from business.

Henares was presented to authenticate the alpha list of the Supreme Court. She explained that the filing of the alpha list was in lieu of individual filing of ITRs under Sec. 51 of the National Internal Revenue Code. Henares said that from 2002 to 2005, the Supreme Court did not file its alpha list; hence Corona had no ITRs for those years.

In reply to a question from Senator-judge Ralph Recto, the BIR commissioner said that in 2006, the SC withheld P109,000 in taxes from Coronas income of P400,000, adding that Coronas gross income in 2007 was P488,000; in 2008, it was P604,000; in 2009, it was P621,000; and in 2010, it was P657,000.

Mrs. Coronas income and properties

Coronas wife, Cristina, did not file any ITR but had registered as a taxpayer in 2003, when she bought property in La Vista, Quezon City, Henares said. Mrs. Corona registered as a one-time taxpayer after paying capital gains tax and documentary stamp tax for the property.

Henares said the certificate authorizing registration of the La Vista property indicated a sale price of P11 million. She said the BIR would further investigate the sale because Mrs. Corona did not file any income tax return that year, and the origin of the funds used to purchase the property was unclear.

On the alpha list of John Hay Management Corp. from 2007 to 2010, when Cristina Corona had served in the corporations board of directors, Henares said Mrs. Coronas income for 2007 was P623,000; for 2008, it was more than P1 million; for 2009, it was P1,106,000; and for 2010 it was P409,000.

Henares said President Benigno Aquino III had provided written authorization to release the Coronas ITRs and furnish the impeachment court with pertinent documents on the properties allegedly owned by the Corona family.

Upon the query of Senator-judge Pia Cayetano, the BIR commissioner said Mrs. Corona received as directors fees P233,000 in 2006; P220,000 in 2008; P318,000 in 2009; and P240,000 in 2010.

Upon further inquiry by prosecutor Lim, Henares disclosed that the BIR also issued certificates to Mrs. Corona for the purchase of a P3.5-million condominium unit with parking space at The Columns in Ayala Avenue, Makati in 2004; a P9-million property in Bonifacio Global City on Nov. 16, 2005; and the P14.5-million Bellagio One property in December 2009.

Other Corona properties

In December 2003, a BIR certificate was issued to the Corona couple to purchase a condominium from Burgundy Realty Corp. for the acquisition cost of P2.5 million, Henares said.

In 2010, a BIR certificate was issued for a piece of property in Pansol, Diliman, Quezon City, in which Mrs. Corona was listed as the seller while the buyer was her daughter Maria Carla Corona-Castillo, for the acquisition cost of P18 million, Henares added.

In March 2010, another BIR certificate indicated that the Corona couple sold the Pansol property for P8 million to Amelia Rivera, Henares said.

In December 2011, a BIR certificate was issued for the sale of P700,000 worth of shares of stock in The Palms Country Club, Inc. from Filinvest Alabang to the Corona couple, Henares said.

The presiding officer ruled that all documents must be marked in the morning before trial hearings begin, so as not to delay trial with tedious marking.

Adjournment

The session adjourned at 5:13 p.m. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Thursday, January 26.

- Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/YA/HS, GMA News

Day 7: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 26, 2012 7:01pm Call to order

The trial resumed at 2:03 p.m. Thursday.

Presumption of unexplained wealth more relevant to trial

Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked the House prosecution panel whether Chief Justice Renato Corona was being charged under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Private prosecutor Arthur Lim answered in the affirmative, saying the prosecution was accusing Corona of violating paragraphs (c), (e), and (f) of Section 3 of the law. However, Santiago said these provisions were irrelevant to Article II, which accuses Corona of not disclosing his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALNs). She said the more pertinent section of the law would be the presumption of unexplained wealth when a government officials assets do not tally with his income. She said this provision had more to do with the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713), which requires the faithful submission of SALNs.

Release of trial documents to the media

Senator-judge Joker Arroyo expressed alarm that documents marked the previous days that have not yet been admitted as evidence in the case, such as the income tax returns (ITRs) of Corona, have already been released to media. He said ITRs are not public documents and should be held sacrosanct and very, very confidential.

Henares said the ITRs were released only to the Senate pursuant to the subpoena issued to her.

Senator-judge Pia Cayetano asked the prosecution panel or defense team if they had released the documents to the public, noting that Coronas ITRs have been repeatedly shown on televisionand the Internet.

Cayetano said the public had to distinguish between the marking, the presentation, and the offer of evidence before releasing documents to the public or the media. She said documents merely marked as evidence should not be paraded around in media to mislead the public into thinking the documents have already been offered as evidence.

Arroyo stressed that the impeachment court has to admit the marked documents as evidence before these would become public documents. House lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. denied having released Coronas ITRs to the media. He said the only documents released by the prosecution panel to media were the ones about the Corona properties in The Bellagio in Taguig City.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said the defense team has never discussed the contents of the marked documents with the media. He said the prosecution panels spokesmen must avoid talking about the merits of the case.

The presiding officer cautioned the prosecution panel and the defense team about discussing the contents of documents, especially the confidential ones, which have been submitted to the impeachment court.

Time frame of charges against Corona

Senator-judge Francis Escudero asked if the impeachment court would consider only Coronas acts as chief justice, as he noted that some documents marked as evidence bore dates before the magistrate occupied his current position.

Presiding officer Enrile said the senator-judges should discuss in caucus whether or not to consider Coronas acts prior to his appointment as chief justice.

Properties of Coronas daughters

During direct examination, Henares said the BIR was surprised to find out that Coronas daughter, Ma. Carla Corona-Castillo, only had a taxable income of P8,476 monthly in 2009; yet, she was able to buy a year later from her mother, Cristina, an P18million property in La Vista, Quezon City. Henares said Carla only filed ITRs for the years 2008 and 2009.

Enrile asked Henares if the BIR has filed a tax evasion case against Carla, and Henares said the BIR was still investigating whether the property was donated to Carla by her parents or if it was illegally acquired.

Prosecutor Lim asked Henares about the BIR certificate for the sale of a lot in McKinley Hill, Taguig City, which was bought by another daughter of the chief justice, Maria Charina Corona, from Megaworld Corporation.

Henares said Charina has never filed an ITR, but was a one-time taxpayer in the McKinley Hills transaction Henares said it is possible that Coronas daughter, Charina, would be able to explain how she was able to purchase multi-million-peso properties despite the lack of ITRs. Senator-judge Ralph Recto noted that the capability of Ma. Carla Corona-Castillo, to buy the La Vista property was being questioned because she did not file an ITR and, hence, had no regular source of income. Recto was about to ask Henares if the BIR has reviewed the ITRs of Carlas husband, but he withdrew the question because the BIR chiefs testimony still did not cover this matter.

Authorization from President Aquino

During cross-examination by defense counsel Serafin Cuevas, Henares said she was authorized by President Benigno Aquino III to divulge information regarding the ITRs of the chief justice, his wife, and their children and their childrens spouses.

Henares said the chief justice was her colleague at the SGV auditing firm and that her husband was Coronas favorite student at the Ateneo Law School. She added that she was also acquainted with Coronas wife.

Asked by Cuevas if the Secretary of Finance told her durugin mo na si Corona, kung maaari, Henares replied, No. Senator-Judge Arroyo expressed his concern over the speed of the issuance of the presidential authorization to release the ITRs of Corona and his relatives. He warned that a parallel BIR investigation along with the impeachment trial were twin moves against one person that represented a very potent combination. Henares said that this was the first time that the President had issued such authority.

Coronas SALNs and ITRS

Senator-judge Pangilinan asked whether or not the BIR may have overlooked the ITRs of the Corona spouses that recorded other income which could justify their assets. Henares replied that her agency conducted a diligent search and even checked the alpha lists.

Senator-judge Cayetano asked Henares if she saw any discrepancies in Coronas SALNs in relation to his ITRs. Henares said Corona did not fill up the acquisition cost column and that some properties were registered the year after acquisition.

Upon Senator-judge Drilons inquiry, Henares explained that the regional district officer was made to produce the alpha lists from the Supreme Court. She said BIR records show that Corona only had one source of income.

Henares said Coronas wife also did not file ITRs, but she was included in the alpha list of the John Hay Management Corporation and has a little problem, with regard to directors fees.

Fishing for evidence through subpoenas

The presiding officer requested both camps to make a request for subpoenas with specificity as regards what documents they wanted to be brought before the impeachment court.

He said the buckshot approach in requesting for the issuance of subpoenas to produce all pertinent records was fishing for evidence and was not proper.

Spokespersons asked to moderate statements


Senator-judge Gringo Honasan asked that all the spokespersons of the prosecution panel and the defense team be advised to moderate their statements. Honasan lamented that the trial outside the courtroom was proceeding faster than the trial inside the Senate session hall, and was destroying the honor of a good family name.

The presiding officer requested the spokespersons of both camps not to discuss the evidence and merits of the case outside the impeachment court. Enrile said they may discuss the procedure but not the content.

Senator-judges Panfilo Lacson, Teofisto Guingona, and Alan Peter Cayetano agreed that because the impeachment proceedings are considered a public trial, if the evidence is not made available to the public then its purpose would be defeated.

Cayetano added that the sub judice rule which under the Senate Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Trials prohibits senator-judges, the prosecution, and the defense panel from discussing the merits of the case must be differentiated from a gag order as often reported in the media.

Adjournment

Thursdays session was adjourned at 6 p.m. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Monday, January 30.

Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/YA/KG, GMA News

Day 8: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 30, 2012 6:24pm Call to order

The trial resumed at 2:01 p.m. Monday. Senator-judges Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Sergio Osmea were absent.

Trillanes likens impeachment to PMA honor trial

Senator-judge Antonio Trillanes IV compared the impeachment trial at the Senate to Honor Committee trials at his alma mater, the Philippine Military Academy, where only the unanimous decision by an eight-man jury can convict an accused cadet, not technicalities or lawyers.

He said will apply a basic sense of justice in determining the moral fitness of the impeached chief justice who must possess the highest possible moral standards for public officials.

Trillanes said the presentation of evidence even before Chief Justice Renato Corona was appointed as head of the Supreme Court should be allowed.

Protecting constitutional rights of Corona, family members

The Senate Secretary, as the clerk of court of the impeachment court, read the Senate resolution disallowing developers from presenting evidence that are not related to Corona and members of his family, so as not to violate their right to privacy and not subject them to unreasonable search and seizure.

She also read the impeachment courts decision to disallow the introduction of evidence on Article 2.4 on ill-gotten wealth. Instead, the court will rely on legal presumptions on the properties of the respondent.

New order of presentation and list of witnesses

Presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile allowed the request of lead House prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. to tackle Article III which accuses Corona of lack of integrity, independence and competence before Articles I and VII, as the prosecution had earlier stipulated.

The prosecution team said the articles of impeachment against Corona will be presented in this order:
o o o o o o

Article II (nondisclosure of Coronas statement of assets, liabilities and net worth), Article III (Coronas alleged lack of integrity, independence and competence), Article I (partiality and subservience to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who appointed Corona as chief justice) Article VII (supposed irregularities in the granting temporary restraining order to Mrs. Arroyo last November). Article VIII (failure and refusal to account for the Judiciary Development Fund and Special Allowance for the Judiciary), Article IV (disregard of the principle of separation of powers by issuing a status quo ante order against the House of Representatives during the impeachment proceedings against former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez),

o o

Article V (deciding in favor of gerry-mandering in the cases involving 16 newlycreated cities and the promotion of Dinagat Island into a province), and Article VI (creation of an ethics committee to probe the plagiarism case of Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo).

Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III read a letter from Senator-judge Miriam Defensor Santiago requesting both the prosecution and defense teams to provide a list of primary and corroborating witnesses during the trial, as a prelude to cutting down the number to a manageable level. Senator-judge Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. also expressed concern about the list of 100 witnesses submitted by the prosecution.

Tupas clarified that the prosecution will not present all 100 witnesses.

To avoid lengthy presentations of evidence, the presiding officer directed both panels to stipulate elements of the case that do not need further authentication or proof.

Corona gets 40% discount from Megaworld

Megaworld Corp. finance director Giovanni Ng was called to the witness stand. Private Prosecutor Joseph Joemer Perez, who conducted the direct examination, said Ngs testimony would focus on The Bellagio condominium penthouse of Corona and his wife,

and the McKinley Hills transaction with their daughter that the impeached chief justice failed to disclose in his 2009 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Ng produced the contract to sell Unit 38-B with 3 parking slots, which was sold for P14 million by Megaworld to the Corona couple, and official receipts of the transaction. He also produced the deed of absolute sale of the McKinley Hill property of Charina Corona, represented by her attorney-in-fact, Renato Corona, her father.

Asked about the price of the Bellagio penthouse unit, Ng said he was not qualified to answer the question because pricing was the function of the marketing department. Prosecutor Perez requested the impeachment court to subpoena Megaworld Corp.s senior vice president for marketing.

When asked by Senator-judge Aquilino Pimentel III why the prosecution was focusing on the prices of the real estate, Perez said Ng had informed the prosecution that the Coronas received a 40 percent discount amounting to P10 million on their purchases. Perez said receiving discounts falls under Article III.

In response to a query from Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada, Ng explained that Megaworld Corp. usually gives 15-percent discounts to unit buyers if they pay on shorter terms. He added that Corona was given a bigger discount because the Bellagio unit he bought needed repairs.

Answering another question from Senator-judge Franklin Drilon, Ng said Megaworld gave Coronas daughter, Charina, a P2.3-million discount on the purchase of a P6.2million McKinley Hill property in Taguig City which her parents paid for. Ng said Charina's name did not appear in any of the receipts, and a single hand-written letter from the Chief Justice requested that the property be named under his daughter.

Corona paid in cash for P9.1-M Bonifacio Ridge condominium

Private prosecutor Jose Antonio Hernandez conducted the direct examination of real estate developer Aniceto Visnar Jr., formerly of the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation.

Bisnar confirmed the sale of a P9.1-million condominium unit on the 19th floor of the Spanish Bay Tower in Bonifacio Ridge in Taguig City to the Corona couple, which was fully paid in cash on October 14, 2005.

The prosecution noted that the Spanish Bay unit supports the claim that Corona failed to properly disclose his properties in his SALN, as alleged in Article II. In his 2010 SALN,

Corona declared that he purchased a condominium unit in 2004 in Taguig City worth P2.3 million.

During cross-examination, defense counsel Ramon Esguerra pointed out the absence of any notice of acceptance of the purchased unit by Cristina Corona. He also noted Bisnar's unfamiliarity with the Spanish Bay Tower unit, and said Bisnar would not know whether the money used by Cristina to pay for the unit had been sourced from a loan.

Adjournment

Monday's sessions was adjourned at 5:55 pm. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Tuesday, 31 January.

Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/VS/YA, GMA News

Day 9: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


January 31, 2012 6:33pm Call to order

The trial resumed at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Price of Corona penthouse reduced due to damage, not discount

Witness Noli Hernandez, senior vice president for marketing at Megaworld Corporation, testified that the Bellagio Tower I penthouse purchased by Chief Justice Renato Corona's wife Cristina in 2008 had a steep reduction in price from P24 million to P19.6 million because of water damagefollowing a typhoon. The price was further slashed by P3 million, or the standard 15-20 percent discount, because Corona paid almost in cash and on a shorter term of less than a year.

Private prosecutor Joseph Joemer Perez asked whether it was the usual practice of Megaworld to sell damaged units, drastically reduce its prices, or give big discounts. He also asked if the company had filed insurance claims after the condominium was damaged by the typhoon.

The presiding officer cautioned Perez about his manner of asking questions. Enrile clarified that a price reduction is different from a discount: the condition of the unit is a reason for reducing the price, while a discount is a privilege extended to the buyer.

During the cross-examination by lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas, Hernandez said Megaworld could have given the same price reduction to any customer. Hernandez added that he did not know at the time that it was Chief Justice Corona who bought the penthouse.

Senators ask: Whats the connection?

Senator-judges Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Pia Cayetano questioned the relevance of the 40-percent price reduction for the Corona condominium unit to Article II, which alleges Corona of nondisclosure of some properties in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).

The presiding officer said he allowed the prosecution to present Hernandez as witness out of liberality. House prosecutor Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. explained that Hernandezs testimony was related to the valuation of the property, as Corona did not indicate the acquisition cost of P14.5 million in his SALN. Instead, Corona said the current fair market value of the Bellagio condominium unit was P6.8 million.

Senator-judge Manny Villar said there are many factors considered in pricing, and volunteered the information that another real estate company offered a 40 percent discount just last December.

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano said Hernandez's testimony was needed to explain the "discount" alleged by the prosecution.

Zonal value vs. fair market value

Senator-judge Franklin Drilon cited jurisprudence where the Supreme Court held that the disclosure in the SALN is not merely a ministerial act but must be done under oath, and be truthful, accurate, and timely. Senator-judge Teofisto Guingona III asked the House prosecution panel if Corona had complied with these three elements of disclosure in SALNs.

In reply, Perez said the P14.5 million purchase of the Bellagio penthouse was not reflected in Corona's 2009 SALN, despite the deed of absolute sale executed that year. Although the property was later reflected in Corona's 2010 SALN, he said the fair market value of the penthouse was written down as only P6.8 million which, it was surmised, was only the zonal value. He affirmed that Corona's SALN did not meet any of the three elements of disclosure because the zonal value is different from fair market value.

Recto suggests change in order of trial presentation

Senator Ralph Recto asked if the defense panel could be allowed to present evidence immediatelyafter each article of impeachment, without waiting for the prosecution to present evidence for all eight articles.

Presiding officer Enrile explained that under existing rules, the defense can only present evidence after the prosecution finishes presenting theirs for all the eight Articles of Impeachment. He added that changing the Senate Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Trials would need an amendment and the republication of the rules.

Proof of damage

Senator-judge Sergio Osmea III asked Hernandez to produce proof of the damage in the condominium unit bought by Corona, including photos. He also asked Hernandez to verify if Megaworld filed complaints against the firm who constructed the damaged condominium unit. In addition, he asked for a price list of all condominium units at the Bellagio Tower I.

Senator-judge Francis Pangilinan told Hernandez to voluntarily submit to the Senate the building engineers report on the damage sustained by the penthouse during the typhoon.

Megaworld lost in SC cases

Senator-judge Francis Escudero asked the Megaworld executive if Bellagio was sold "at a loss" to the Coronas. Hernandez replied that Megaworld made a "little profit" from the sale.

In response to further queries, Hernandez said Corona voted against Megaworld Corp. in at least two cases, even if the chief justice and his family had purchased properties from Megaworld twice. He said the Corona family bought Megaworld properties in 2006 but the real estate company "lost a case right after 2007 and then he bought again from [the company] in 2008 and then [the company] lost again a case in the Supreme Court in 2009.

Senator-judge Panfilo Lacson, however, clarified that Megaworld only lost in one of the cases because they appealed the decision. He also pointed out that in the 2004 SC decision where Megaworld had lost, the compromise agreement was reversed in the real estate company's favor.

'Let go of the discount issue'

Responding to a question from Senator-judge Lacson, House prosecutor Barzaga admitted that no one in the prosecution panel has the competence in determining whether the fair market value reflected in Corona's SALN is true and accurate. Lacson pointed out that only the city assessor of Taguig City can give the fair market value of the unit.

Senator-judge Aquilino Pimentel III strongly suggested to the House prosecution panel to "let go" of the discount issue when Article III is taken up. He said the acceptance of a discount has nothing to do with that article of impeachment.

Replying to a query from Senator-judge Ramon Revilla Jr., Hernandez said Megaworld extended an additional P1-million discount to Corona, bringing the final purchase price of the Bellagio unit down to P14.5 million.

Del Castillo impeachment case still pending

Senator-judge Joker Arroyo asked whether there was another impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives. Tupas, as the House Justice Committee chair, said that the impeachment complaint against SC Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo was still pending at the committee level.

Adjournment

Tuesday's session was adjourned at 5:05 pm. It will resume at 2 pm Wednesday.

Marlon Anthony Tonson/VS/YA, GMA News

Day 10: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 1, 2012 6:45pm Call to order

The trial resumed at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Corona's P11-million loan

House prosecutor Rep. Reynaldo Umali conducted the direct examination of Director Benito Cataran of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) Company Registration & Regulatory Department, who testified on the P11-million loan that Chief Justice Renato Corona got in 2003 from his wifes corporation; it was declared as his liability in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) from 2004 to 2009.

Cataran produced the articles of incorporation of Basa Guidote Enterprises, Inc. (BGEI), which was registered with the SEC in May 30, 1961. He said neither Corona nor his wife Cristina Roco-Corona were listed as shareholders in the company, whose incorporators and officers had the surnames Basa or Roco.

Director Cataran added that the SEC revoked BGEIs articles of incorporation and considered the company dissolved in 2003 the year Corona got a loan from BGEI after it failed to file general information sheets (GIS) from 1991 to 1997, and financial statements from 2000 to 2003 as required under the Corporation Code.

However, presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the dissolution of a corporation is not its end because it still has to undergo liquidation. He explained that the SEC can only suspend a non-compliant corporations license, but the corporation can only be dissolved by its own stockholders or by the government through a case filed against entities that usurp authority. He directed Cataran to submit a legal memorandum showing the authority of the SEC to dissolve non-compliant corporations.

Umali said the prosecution panel was out to prove that Corona could not have borrowed from BSEI because the corporations franchise has already been dissolved or revoked [and] the only action that can be taken by [BGEI] is to liquidate, wind up and distribute the shares. He added the prosecution wants to prove that the P11-million loan obtained by Corona is fictitious.

Senator-judge Francis Pangilinan noted that the prosecution was trying to prove a questionable or "unexplained inclusion" which goes to the truthfulness of Coronas SALN.

Much ado about nothing

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano said the SECs statement that BGEI is no longer operational is irrelevant because a corporation under process of dissolution can still lend money. Senator-judge Edgardo Angara agreed and said Catarans testimony was much ado about nothing. Senator-judge Pia Cayetano described it as a futile exercise.

Senator-judge Lito Lapid noted that Coronas 2010 SALN disclosed an P11-million cash advance and asked how this was different from a loan. In reply, Umali admitted that the prosecution was wondering how a corporation thats no longer in operation could give a cash advance to a non-stockholder like Corona.

Senator-judge Francis Escudero explained that when a corporation is dissolved, the incorporators simply become co-owners in an association which can still do business, and the co-owners answer any claims if it gets sued in court.

During cross-examination, lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas got the witness to admit that he had no firsthand knowledge about BGEI, its transactions, and the P11million loan.

Cuevas showed Cataran a check amounting to P34,703,800 that was supposedly paid to Cristinaon behalf of BGEI after the firms properties were expropriated, but the SEC director said he was not aware of this transaction.

Coronas P3M condo unit in Makati

Ayala Land assistant vice president Nerissa Josef testified that the Corona family made three installments within one year for the full payment of Unit 31-B of The Columns, a 48-square meter condominium unit in Makati City. She said a deed of absolute sale dated October 1, 2004 was issued to the Corona family.

Private prosecutor Winston Ginez, who conducted the direct examination, said Corona should have declared the property in his SALNs for the years 2004 to 2009 but the chief justice only declared the condominium unit in his 2010 SALN. Responding to a question from Senator-judge Escudero, Ginez said the prosecutions position is that when the

absolute deed of sale was executed, then the property should have been included in the SALN.

However, defense counsel Cuevas said there was a refusal on the part of the buyer for the delivery. Before conducting his cross-examination, defense counsel Ramon Esguerra also had a handwritten note signed by Coronas wife marked as evidence.

Asked by Esguerra whether she was aware of the Coronas' complaints that the unit had undersized wires and damaged windows, Josef replied in the negative. Upon Escuderos motion, the presiding officer directed both the prosecution and defense to submit by Monday their respective legal memorandums on that point of law: when must a property be declared in the SALN when there is already a deed of absolute sale or when the property is actually turned over to the owner?

Responding to a question from Senator-judge Drilon, Josef said the Coronas took possession of the unit sometime in 2008.

Subpoena for documents on Bellagio penthouse units

Senator-judge Sergio Osmea III asked that the impeachment court also subpoena any document containing the date of acceptance and titling, plus the floor plans, of the Bellagio penthouse units in Taguig.

The presiding officer ordered the issuance of the subpoena.

Adjournment

At 6:15 p.m., the trial was adjourned. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Marlon Anthony Tonson/YA/ELR, GMA News

Day 11: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 2, 2012 7:37pm Call to Order

At 2:04 p.m. Thursday, the trial resumed. Senators Miram Defensor-Santiago and Sergio Osmea were absent.

Cross-examination of registers of deeds

During cross-examination by defense counsel Ramon Esguerra, Quezon City Register of Deeds Carlo Alcantara produced the transfer certificate of title (TCT) for a P15-million lot under the names of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona's daughter, Ma. Carla C. Castillo, and her husband.

Alcantara also produced registration certificates for the following properties of the Corona family:
o o o o

A unit at the Burgundy condominium with a market zonal value of P1.5 million and a selling price of P2.5 million A lot at the Ayala Heights with a market zonal value P13.8 million and a selling price of P8 million A lot at La Vista with a market zonal value of P21.6 million and a selling price of P18 million Two properties at Xavierville Subdivision

Esguerra also cross-examined Marikina Register of Deeds Sedfrey Garcia. He said seven Marikina lots under the names of Corona and his wife have already been sold, thus these were not included in Corona's SALNs.

SALN entries: zonal value, fair market value, or selling price?

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano noted the confusion regarding property valuation. He said the fair market value is usually the price agreed upon by the buyer and seller, but in deeds of sale, either zonal value or municipal/city assessors' value is used.

Cayetano posed the question, which specific amount should Corona have put in his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) as the propertys acquisition cost the zonal value, the fair market value (FMV), or the assessed value? He requested the House prosecutors and Corona defense counsels to prepare legal memoranda on the matter, considering that Article II charges Corona with non-disclosure of assets in his SALN.

Presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the assessed value is used in computing real estate taxes, while the market zonal value and the FMV are used for computing final capital gains tax.

Senator-judge Ralph Recto asked the Corona defense team about their position on the Quezon City properties, which had been sold in 1990. Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas replied that those properties have a new owner, the daughter of Corona who was of legal age by then.

Wrong SALN entries betray public trust

Citing Rule 7 on public disclosure in the Rules of the Civil Service Commission, Cuevas said the acquisition cost, fair market value, and assessed value all have to be stated in the SALNs. However, if there are errors, civil servants are allowed to make corrections after filing and no criminal penalties are imposed if the inaccuracies are not intentional.

House prosecutor Rep. Elidio Barzaga Jr. argued that Corona failed to state in his SALNs from 2002 to 2010 all the values of his properties because the column on acquisition costs were left blank. He cited a Supreme Court ruling that false entries in a SALN filed under oath amounts to perjury.

Enrile asked whether the House prosecution panel was introducing evidence on Article II on culpable violation of the Constitution and/or violation of the public trust. Barzaga replied both and added that not stating entries in the SALN correctly constitutes the highest betrayal of public trust.

The presiding officer asked Barzaga if perjury is a high crime, to which the House prosecutor replied in the negative. Senator-judge Joker Arroyo said evidence submitted to the Senate must be of a higher bar that will prove and reach the level of an impeachable offense. House lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. explained that Article II on untruthful disclosure in Coronas SALN did not pertain to other high crimes but rather betrayal of public trust.

He cited the opinion of constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas that betrayal of public trust was a catch-all phrase covering offenses that may not even amount to crimes. Only 24 Corona properties, not 45

Senator-judge Aquilino Pimentel III asked why the title to the Marikina properties remained under Coronas name when these were already sold to Demetrio 22 years ago. Cuevas replied that Corona should not be faulted for the failure of the buyer to transfer the TCTs to buyers name.

Senator-judge Francis Escudero noted that the deed of absolute sale of the Marikina properties named new owners, but the TCTs remained under the name of the chief justice. He recalled that the previous day, the defense team argued that the Taguig properties need only be included in Coronas SALN at the time of their physical transfer. He stressed that there cannot be a double standard where one argument is used when favorable but dispensed with when not favorable, saying there has to be consistency.

Escudero said the prosecution enumerated 24 Corona properties so far, but he recalled that the prosecution said it would present evidence on 45 properties. Tupas said it was the Land Registration Authority (LRA) that listed the 45 properties, and the prosecution panel was not bound by the LRAs enumeration. Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada asked him who announced to the media that Corona had 45 properties using the LRA letter, saying he saw Tupas on television together with the House prosecution panel spokesmen presenting the LRA document on 45 alleged Corona properties.

Tupas said the prosecutors did not release the list of 45 properties to the media. He said a few days before the trial started, the prosecutors filed their request for the issuance of subpoenas, to which the LRA letter was attached.

Cuevas said the defense team found revolting the practice of showing to the media and the general public the documents that have been marked but not yet formally offered as evidence.

Coronas P3-M Burgundy condo unit

Prosecution lawyer Clarence Jandoc conducted the direct examination of Burgundy Realty Corporation Vice President Gregg Gregonia, who confirmed the sale of a P3.4-

millioncondominium unit at the 21st floor of One Burgundy Plaza along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City to Corona in October 2000 through documents.

Gregonia also confirmed that Corona bought a parking lot in the same building for P450,000. During the cross-examination by Cuevas, Gregonia admitted that he had no personal knowledge on the transactions regarding the Burgundy unit. Senator-judge Estrada asked the prosecution what they were trying to prove regarding the Burgundy unit. Jandoc said Corona did not disclose the Burgundy parking slots in his SALNs and failed to make a timely disclosure of the condo unit itself.

Basis for subpoena requests

In response to a request from Rep. Tupas, the presiding officer reminded the prosecution team to justify requests to summon documents and individuals, stressing that they must indicate the "relevancy" of those documents or testimony to the impeachment trial. Enrile said the court cannot hastily decide on issuing summons because the prosecution needs to lay the basis for the subpoena first.

The presiding officer cited the prosecutions request to subpoena some documents from the Supreme Court, explaining that the Senate has to observe the separateness and co-equalness of the three branches of government.

Adjournment At 6:03 p.m. the trial was adjourned. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Monday, February 6.

Marlon Anthony Tonson/YA/ELR/KG, GMA News

Day 12: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 6, 2012 7:03pm Call to Order

At 2:11 p.m., the trial was resumed. Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago was absent.

ITRs of Coronas son-in-law

Presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, over the objection of Chief Justice Renato Coronas lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas, allowed private prosecutor Arthur Lim to resume his direct examination of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) chief even though cross-examination had started.

BIR commissioner Kim Henares produced the income tax returns (ITRs) from 2005 to 2010 of Corona son-in-law Constantino T. Castillo III (husband of Carla Corona), which were marked in court.

Enrile did not allow Lim to read the contents of Castillos ITRs for propaganda purposes, and chided Lim for pointing out unnecessary details in describing the documents.

The presiding officer Enrile added that the impeachment court will not accept evidence on paragraph 2.4 on allegations of ill-gotten wealth because the Senate has disallowed this.

After Enrile stressed that the prosecution must demonstrate the relevance of the ITRs to Article II on lack of disclosure in Coronas Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs), Lim said they were trying to show that the La Vista property belongs to Corona because his daughter and her husband did not have the financial capacity to buy the P18 million property.

The prosecution also presented a deed of sale for shares at the exclusive The Palms Country Club from Filinvest in the name of Corona and his wife, that were not declared in his SALN.

BIR investigating Corona

Henares said the BIR was in the process of investigating Corona in connection with his tax declarations and SALNs from 1992 to 2010, and that a letter of authority notice was sent to Corona to tell him some revenue officers were auditing his ITRs.

Continuing his cross-examination, Cuevas asked Henares if the inaccuracies in Coronas SALNs could be corrected in accordance with Civil Service rules. Henares replied that corrections cannot be made because the SALNs are made under oath and if these can be amended at anytime, then filing SALNs would be useless.

Cuevas asked Henares if she did not find anything wrong in conducting the probe while the impeachment trial is ongoing, which he said smacks of persecution. In reply, she told him it is the duty of the BIR to investigate any wrongdoing regarding taxes.

Discrepancies in Coronas SALNs and ITRs noted

Prosecutor Lim asked Henares to expound on the discrepancies found by the BIR. Cuevas challenged Henares credibility in drawing conclusions on Coronas assets, but Lim pointed out that the lead defense counsel himself had asked the BIR chief for her opinion on the matter.

Henares said the BIR used the net worth method in assessing tax deficiency. After comparing Coronas SALNs, ITRs, and Certificates of Authority of Registrations (CARs) on his properties, the following under-declarations were found:
o o

2002: Corona did not declare nine properties in his SALN 2003: He did not declare nine properties; the property in La Vista was valued at P3 million instead of P11 million; another property worth P2.5 million was declared as P821,080; his net worth was P7 million when it should have been P14 million

2004: Same discrepancies as previous year; another property in Diliman, Quezon City was not included in the SALN; his net worth was reported at P7 million instead of P21 million

o o o

2005: Same discrepancies as previous year; his declared net worth was P8.3 million when it should be P31.2 million 2007: His net worth should be P24 million but he only declared P11 million 2008: His net worth should be P25 million but he only declared P12 million

2009: His net worth should be P52 million because of the Bellagio I property but he only declared P14.5 million

Enrile noted that the letter sent to Corona was issued on the basis of tentative data which gives the BIR the authority to examine the chief justice for possible tax deficiency.

Senate issues subpoena for Corona bank records

In a resolution read by Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III, the impeachment court granted the request of the prosecutors to subpoena two bank managers along with documents related to Coronas alleged bank accounts. However, the court set limits, such as requiring prima facie proof of relevance and specific documents closely related to Coronas filing of SALNs.

The Senate ordered the managers of the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) Katipunan branch and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Ayala branch to appear before the court on Wednesday, February 8.

The BPI executive was asked to bring copies of Coronas account opening form and his monthly bank statements from December 31, 2005 to 2010. Meanwhile, the PSBank manager was asked to bring documents related to several bank accounts allegedly in the name of Corona from December 31, 2007 to 2010.

When Cuevas asked for a reconsideration of the Senate resolution, Senatorjudge Francis Escudero said only senator-judges can make motions to reconsider the courts rulings.

Bank records from a small lady

Noting that the prosecution panel attached bank records in its request for the subpoenas, Escudero asked the prosecution to explain how they obtained the bank documents, pointing out that whoever released those documents had violated the Bank Secrecy Law.

House prosecutor Umali said a small lady he did not know handed the documents in an envelope to him as he was leaving the Senate, and surmised that these might have come from a concerned citizen. Sotto suggested that the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms view video footage captured by the Senate securitys closed circuit television cameras to determine the identity of the small lady.

Enrile said the Senate resolution has yet to decide whether the subpoenaed bank records would be admitted as evidence. He stressed that the Foreign Currency Deposit Act is a very strict law and that nobody is immune from the penalties for violation of the Bank Secrecy Law.

Free legal counsel contested by defense, prosecution

Commenting on the entry of appearances of new private lawyers, Cuevas claimed that P10 million in taxpayers money was being spent on the avalanche of private prosecutors.

In response, House deputy lead prosecutor Rep. Rodolfo Farias said the private lawyers were providing legal services free of charge. He pointed to the defense team, which is composed wholly of private lawyers, and said Corona may be violating the law by accepting the gift of free legal services from big law firms that have pending cases in the Supreme Court.

Adjournment

At 5:57 p.m. the trial was adjourned. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/VS/YA, GMA News

Day 13: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 7, 2012 8:47pm Day 13: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate Call to Order

The trial resumed at 2:07 p.m. Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago was absent.

Santiago appeals Senate subpoenas for Corona bank accounts

Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III read a letter from Santiago, who appealed against the Senate resolution to subpoena bank managers and documents regarding the supposed accounts of Chief Justice Renato Corona. She cited three grounds:
o o

The subpoena violates the courts own ruling that evidence on ill-gotten wealth are not allowed; The subpoena violates Republic Act 6426 (Foreign Currency Deposit Act), which disallows the scrutiny of a foreign currency account, without the depositor's written permission;

The cases that the prosecution cited to support its request for the subpoena are all off-tangent.

Contrary to a previous Senate ruling, Santiago also added that the motion [for reconsideration] can be filed even only by defense counsel, and does not need to be filed by a senator-judge.

Senator-judge Panfilo Lacson raised a concern about Santiagos capacity to question the subpoena resolution, saying she was absent when it was deliberated on in caucus. But the presiding officer, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, said each senator-judge has the right to question the courts rulings.

Enrile said he would rule on Santiagos motion the following day, after a caucus of all the senator-judges, including Santiago who said she would attend it.

Who gets to ask Senate to reconsider its rulings?

In response to Santiagos letter, Senator-judge Franklin Drilon recalled that in Mondays hearing, Senator-judge Francis Escudero rightly pointed out that the defense counsels cannot ask the Senate to reconsider its rulings, citing Rule VI of the Senate Resolution 39 on the Rules of Procedure on Impeachment Trials.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas asked what recourse a party has if they want to ask for a reconsideration of the impeachment court's ruling. Escudero said Rule VI only pertains to the ruling of the presiding officer, which is considered the ruling of the entire Senate unless a senator-judge objects and asks for the decision to be put to a vote.

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano added that Rule VI does not apply to a written resolution by the majority of the senator-judges, referring to Mondays caucus. Senator-judge Joker Arroyo countered that Rule VI cannot be used in the Senate resolution for subpoenas because it seeks to tackle questions of law regarding bank secrecy. But Drilon stressed that nowhere in the rules are the prosecution and defense panels allowed to seek a motion for reconsideration, and neither are distinctions made between questions of fact or questions of law in the Senates rulings.

Senator-judge Aquilino Pimentel III found it unnatural not to allow either the prosecution or the defense to ask for motions for reconsideration. He pointed out that the only time motions for reconsideration in impeachment are absolutely prohibited is at the end of trial, when senator-judges vote on the final question under Rule XXI to reach a verdict of conviction or acquittal.

Cuevas said that if the defense cannot ask for a reconsideration, then they will be constrained to appeal in a different venue other than the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.

In response, Enrile said the parties are free to do what is allowed them under the law but he will only take exception to attempts to stop the trial.

Joker: Dont make impeachment a cottage industry

Arroyo expressed concern over the decision of the House of Representatives committee on justice to impeach another member of the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo. He warned the House prosecutors against making impeachment a cottage industry.

Lead public prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. explained that unlike the case of Corona, the impeachmentcomplaint against Del Castillo still has to be taken up in a plenary session.

Arroyo asked Tupas to ensure that any article of impeachment the House might decide to file against Del Castillo would be good because the House prosecution has shown itself handicapped by the Corona Articles of Impeachment.

Can the Chief Justice control the SC?

House prosecutor Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said they were ready to present the third Article of Impeachment, which accuses Corona of betrayal of public trust for his alleged lack of independence, competence, probity and integrity. He said Corona had allowed the Supreme Court (SC) to act on a private lawyers letters, which supposedly caused the flip-flopping of an otherwise final SC decision.

Enrile noted that Aggabao's use of the word allow implies that Corona can also prohibit the high court's actions. Enrile asked the prosecutor if that meant the chief justice has the power to control the other justices of the SC, which is a collegial body.

Aggabao replied that Corona has administrative control of the court, including the power to order the raffling of cases to SC divisions. Enrile ordered the House prosecution panel to submit a legal memorandum on the extent of the chief justices power of supervision and/or control over other SC justices.

Request to subpoena PAL execs, SC officials

Aggabao inquired about the prosecutions pending requests to subpoena officials of the SC and the Philippine Airlines (PAL). Enrile said the requests will be discussed in Wednesday's caucus because they touched on the separation of powers and the independence of co-equal branches of government.

House prosecutor Rep. Neri Colmenares pleaded for the issuance of the subpoenas, stating that the impeachment court has absolute powers to do so. He said provisions in the Constitution regarding impeachment pertain specifically to public accountability. He pointed out that the Senate had already subpoenaed BIR commissioner Henares, a member of the Executive branch, and SC Clerk of Court Vidal from the judicial branch.

Enrile maintained that the request will have to be studied carefully in the Senate caucus, but should some SC justices voluntarily testify in the impeachment court, then that is their prerogative.

Coronas alleged meddling in FASAP vs. PAL

The first witness on Article III was the president of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP), Roberto Anduiza. The direct examination was conducted by House prosecutor Rep. Arlene Bag-ao.

Anduiza said Corona had meddled in FASAPs 13-year-old labor case against PAL, which stemmed from the retrenchment of around 1,400 flight attendants in 1998. The SC had originally declared the retrenchment as illegal. PAL filed a motion for reconsideration twice and the SC junked both motions. Anduiza said FASAP had won three times. But in October 2011, the SC reopened the case and recalled its ruling.

Anduiza told the Senate that Corona took no part during the deliberations in the case of FASAP vs. PAL that the flight attendants won. However, the chief justice did take part in the SC resolution taking back the SCs denial of PALs second motion for reconsideration.

Anduiza insisted that in recalling the high court's decision, the SC had acted on a series of letters sent by PAL lawyer Estelito Mendoza, and did not give FASAP an opportunity to be heard. Bag-ao presented four letters from Atty. Mendoza addressed to the Clerk of Court, and said Corona was furnished with copies of all the letters.

Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada noted that FASAP has a pending motion for reconsideration assailing the SCs decision to re-open their case. He asked whether the impeachment court was bound by the sub judice rule, which prohibits the discussion of the merits of an ongoing case.

Bag-ao said the House prosecution panel will not be discussing the pending case; rather, they will focus on the letters written by Atty. Mendoza which led to the reopening of the case.

Cuevas countered that discussing the merits of the FASAP case cannot be avoided. But the presiding officer ruled that the impeachment trial is a public proceeding, and nothing should be hidden from the public.

Impeachment complaint poorly-crafted

Enrile asked about the relevance of the financial records sought to be subpoenaed from the SC to the third Article of Impeachment. House deputy lead prosecutor Rep. Rodolfo Farias explained that Corona had used judiciary funds for private purposes.

Estrada asked Farias if he was one of the 188 congressmen who endorsed the impeachment complaint. Farias replied that he did not sign it because he was a slow reader and the impeachment complaint was poorly crafted.

Adjournment

At 5:22 p.m., the trial was adjourned. Trial will resume at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The Senators caucus is scheduled at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Marlon Anthony Tonson/YA/ELR, GMA News

Day 14: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 8, 2012 6:51pm (Updated 1 p.m. 9 February) Call to Order

At 2:14 p.m., the trial was resumed. Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago was absent.

Impeachment court and high court not co-equal branches

Senator-judge Teofisto Guingona III appealed to the Supreme Court to help in the quest for the truth and respect the impeachment courts independence in trying the case against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

With the Senate exercising its special judicial function and the senators sitting as judges in an independent impeachment court, the upper chamber and the high court are not co-equal branches, Guingona said.

Farias apologizes for earlier statements

Senator-judge Pia Cayetano took exception to the remark of House deputy lead prosecutor Rep. Rodolfo Farias on Tuesday that both houses of Congress were working together to oust Corona. She said senator-judges work separately from the House prosecutors and their roles are well-defined: some members of the House of Representatives are tasked to prosecute the case while the senators are tasked to hear and decide the case.

The presiding officer, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, warned both the prosecution and defense camps to think of what they say before the impeachment court. He stressed that thesenator-judges are not partisan nor combatants but rather the referees between prosecution and the defense.

Farias apologized for his earlier remarks and said he respects all the senatorjudges. As regards his mentioning the name of Senator-judge Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Farias said he was merely trying to illustrate how even the senator who got the most

number of votes in the last elections can himself be removed should the other senators find him guilty of "disorderly behavior". He explained that he never implied Revilla was disorderly or had to removed. Revilla accepted Farias apology. Senate pulls all stops to see Coronas bank records

Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III announced that during the morning caucus, the Senate decided toaffirm its resolution granting the prosecutions request to subpoena officials and documents from banks where Corona supposedly owns accounts, so that the prosecution can support their accusation that Corona had not properly declared his assets in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs).

During the trial, the senators-judges retired in caucus to discuss the defense camps motion to delay the enforcement of the subpoenas until the SC [Supreme Court] has had ample opportunity to act on Coronas petition before the SC to stop the impeachment trial. His counsels argued that the Senate had committed grave abuse of discretion when it subpoenaed Coronas bank records.

After the caucus, Sotto announced that a majority of the members of the impeachment court voted to deny the defense camps motion to defer the proceedings in view of Coronas petition before the SC.

Did FASAP single out Corona?

The Senate also denied the defense camps motion to stop the presentation of evidence on the SC decision flip-flopping on the case of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) against Philippine Airlines (PAL).

On cross-examination, lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas asked FASAP President Roberto Anduiza why he blames Corona for the SCs recall of the ruling on their labor case. Anduiza replied that according to FASAPs lawyer, Corona took no part in the labor case ruling but participated in the voting of the recall order.

Cuevas said the recall order in the SC resolution taking back the final entry of judgment on the dismissal of PALs second motion for reconsideration was an administrative matter and does not revoke the SCs original decision in the labor case, which means that the multi-million peso award to FASAP members still stands.

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano asked Anduiza why FASAP singled out Corona, considering that other SC justices also voted for the recall of the ruling. Anduiza replied that if needed then the other justices should also be held accountable.

When senator-judge Loren Legarda said the prosecution has yet to establish the link and relevance between Article III which accused Corona of lack of probity and the letters written by PAL lawyer Estelito Mendoza that prompted the re-opening of the FASAP-PAL case, House prosecutor Rep. Arlene Bag-ao said more witnesses would be presented to show "the bigger picture" on Coronas supposed hand in the recall order.

Bag-ao said several FASAP members had also written letters but these were treated differently by the high court, which required FASAP to furnish PAL copies of their letters. In contrast, FASAP was not given copies of any of the four letters written by Atty. Mendoza.

In response to a query from Enrile, Anduiza said the letters from FASAP were written by members who had grown impatient over the 13-year-old labor case. Senator-judge Aquilino Pimentel III asked if FASAP considers as improper only the letters written by the PAL lawyer and not the ones written by its members. Anduiza said there was nothing wrong about writing letters, but he understood that parties in the case can submit only motions or pleadings to the SC for consideration.

PSBank President testifies despite pending SC petition

Cuevas objected to the prosecutions presentation of a witness from the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank), citing the defense camps petition to stop the impeachment proceedings as well as thebanks petition to quash the subpoenas from the Senate, which are still pending before the Supreme Court.

House lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. Tupas countered that the Senate had junked the defenses motion for deferment and officials from PSBank and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) are already in the Senate to testify in compliance with the subpoenas issued to them.

The presiding officer ruled that the bank officials be presented as witnesses. PSBank President Pascual Garcia III presented bank certifications on five pesodenominated accounts opened by Corona from 2007 to 2010.
o

Coronas first bank account had P5,018,255.26 at the end of 2007, but this was already closed as of 2008.

o o o

Corona opened a second account in 2008 and third account in 2009, but both were closed. Coronas fourth account had a balance of P7,148,238.83 at the end of 2010. Coronas fifth account had contained P8.5 million at the end of 2009, and had a balance of P12,580,000 at the end of 2010.

Private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio informed the impeachment court that Garcia had declined to pre-mark the bank documents earlier that day, so this was the first time the prosecution had seen the documents.

PSBank refuses to divulge Coronas dollar accounts

Garcia said his legal counsels advised him that although peso accounts are exempted from the Bank Secrecy Law in impeachment cases, he cannot divulge the contents of Coronas five dollar-denominated accounts because that would be a violation of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act.

Responding to Senator-judge Ralph Recto, Garcia explained that although a subpoena was issued to one of his bank managers, he made the personal decision to come to the Senate without the documents on Coronas dollar accounts. Garcia said any liability for not divulging the dollar accounts should fall on him and not his employees because he is the banks president.

Drilon asked the impeachment court to order Garcia to explain why he should not be cited in contempt for refusing to bring the subpoenaed documents. Senator-judge Joker Arroyo countered that the impeachment court should not be quick to crucify Garcia who had come in good faith but now runs the risk of being held criminally liable if he divulges Coronas dollar accounts. He recalled a similar incident during the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada when the impeachment court did not cite for contempt the CitiBank official who had refused to divulge Estradas supposed dollar accounts.

The presiding officer ordered Garcia to submit by noon Thursday a written explanation on his refusal to bring Coronas dollar account records. Senator-judge Sergio Osmea III suggested that the Senate issue a subpoena instead to the one-man executive committee of PSBanks board whom he described as essentially Garcias boss to produce the bank documents on Coronas dollar accounts. After going on a short recess, the court did not take up Osmeas suggestion again.

Senate wont subpoena 4 SC justices

The Senate Secretary, as clerk of the impeachment court, read the Senate resolution denying the prosecutions request to subpoena four Supreme Court justices Presbitero Velasco, Martin Villarama Jr., Bienvenido Reyes, and Ma. Lourdes Sereno to testify on Article III out of respect for the confidentiality of court sessions.

The resolution added that summoning the four SC justices would be transgressing the basic principle of separation of powers, and the Senate was not ready to accept the prosecutions contention that the principle of separation of powers among the three branches of government does not apply to the impeachment trial. Whether performing legislative functions or sitting as an impeachment court, the Senate is not insulated from the principle of separation of powers, stated the resolution.

Senator-judges Pimentel, Guingona, and Pia Cayetano said they would file separate concurring opinions, as they took exception to the resolutions mention of the impeachment court being co-equal to the Supreme Court. Senator-judge Pangilinan also said he would file a separate opinion.

Adjournment

At 7:16 p.m., the trial was adjourned. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Marlon Anthony Tonson/YA/ELR, GMA News

Day 15: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 9, 2012 7:47pm Call to Order

The trial resumed at 2:07 p.m. Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago was absent.

Which is higher, SC or impeachment court?

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said the statement of Senator-judge Teofisto Guingona III on Wednesday implied that the Senate sitting as an impeachment court is higher than the Supreme Court (SC). He insisted that impeachment procedures are still subject to SC's power of review.

Guingona clarified that the SC cannot impose its will on the trial because the Senate is not a co-equal branch when it is exercising a judicial function as an Impeachment Court, and not doing its legislative role. He added that this view was shared by many senator-judges.

Regarding the claim of Cuevas that no jurisprudence supports Guingonas view, Senator-judge Francis Pangilinan explained that no SC ruling would be applicable because the Senate was treading on unfamiliar terrain where no entity has ventured thus far before. He said precedent can be drawn from foreign jurisprudence concerning impeachment.

PSB bank manager is tall and not small lady

The presiding officer, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, asked Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) president Pascual Garcia III why the person subpoenaed by the Senate the bank manager of PSBank Katipunan Avenue (Quezon City) branch did not come to the impeachment trial.

Garcia replied that after seeing the fear and concern of branch manager Annabel Tiongson and surmising that she got stressed" over the potential criminal liability of

testifying on Coronas bank documents he decided as PSBank president to come over instead.

Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada asked if the PSBank Katipunan branch manager was a small lady, an allusion to the anonymous source of the confidential bank documents given to the House prosecution panel. Garcia replied that the bank manager was a tall woman.

Garcia refused to answer Senator-judge Franklin Drilons query on the starting balances of Coronas two peso-denominated accounts, saying these were not covered by the Senate subpoena. But Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano said records of initial deposits are among the opening documents that should have been brought to the impeachment court. After reading the subpoena, the presiding officer ruled that Cayetanos observation is correct.

Senator-judge Sergio Osmea III said that aside from Coronas 10 cash deposit accounts, the impeachment court should also subpoena documents on all other financial instruments such as time deposits that the chief justice might have because funds could have been shifted.

Upon motion of Estrada and Drilon and as amended by Osmea the presiding officer ordered that a subpoena be issued again to PSBank Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson, who was also ordered to bring on February 13 all the bank documents of Corona.

PSBank admits existence of dollar accounts

On the requirement of the depositors written consent under the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, A. P. Cayetano explained to Garcia that the impeachment court was invoking the SC ruling in the Salvacion case, which states that the secrecy of dollar deposits cannot be allowed to impede the interest of justice. Still, Garcia maintained that the depositors written consent is required.

Pangilinan requested Cuevas to ask the chief justice to allow PSBank to divulge information about his dollar accounts. Cuevas replied that he believes Corona will not give his consent to open his bank accounts.

Responding to an inquiry from Estrada, Garcia denied that the leaked bank records the House prosecution panel had attached to its request for subpoena came from PSBank. Garcia noted differences between the original bank records and the photocopies, and said the latter were probably fake.

But upon inquiry by the presiding officer, Garcia admitted all five account numbers mentioned in the subpoena were existing dollar accounts in PSBank. Enrile asked Garcia how the prosecution panel could have gotten those account numbers, if not from the PSBank Katipunan branch itself. Garcia replied that the documents were not drawn from us [PSBank].

In reply to Estradas query, Garcia explained that the marginal note PEP written on the bank documents meant politically exposed person or high public officials, such as the depositor Corona. But Garcia refused to answer what the letter K meant in the entry 700K because the annotation was made on a photocopy of an item that he did not consider an original document coming from his bank.

After Senator-judge Panfilo Lacson informed the impeachment court that the SC had just granted PSBanks petition to stop the inquiry into Coronas dollar accounts, the presiding officer said the trial would discuss other issues in deference to the Supreme Court. Lacson asked the Senate to take up this matter in its caucus on Feb. 13.

A. P. Cayetano reminded witnesses that the impeachment court protects them from criminal or administrative liability when they testify on Coronas bank accounts.

BPI accounts of Corona

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Ayala Avenue branch manager Leonora Dizon testified thatCorona has an active BPI checking account, which was opened in 1989 and had an ending balance of P12,024,067.70 as of December 31, 2010.

During cross-examination, Dizon said the fluctuation of ending balances through the years could have resulted from different transactions. In this regard, Cuevas asked the Senate to subpoena the statements of account from 2005 to 2010 of Coronas BPI account.

Osmea requested that the subpoena include other BPI accounts under Coronas name. Drilon further asked that copies of opening balances of those accounts up to 2010 be included in the subpoena. Enrile ordered the issuance of the subpoena on Coronas peso accounts with the bank.

Belatedly, Cuevas told the impeachment court that Corona is in possession of several statements of account, and that there might be no more need to subpoena the BPI documents. The prosecution and defense teams agreed to go to the BPI Ayala Avenue branch together on Feb. 13 to see the documents.

Debate on bank account balances

P. Cayetano recalled that the Senators had agreed in caucus that they would only look into ending balance, and expressed the apprehension that evidence would be presented on possible ill-gotten wealth.

Osmea clarified that his request for the monthly balance of Coronas BPI deposits is similar to the subpoena for the monthly balances of Coronas PSBank peso accounts. Drilon added that Osmeas request is related to assets that Corona should have reported in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs), which pertains to the second article of impeachment.

Senator-judge Joker Arroyo said the issue about bank balances should be discussed in caucus, not argued before the viewing public. Enrile explained that the caucus under discussion dealt with the prosecutions request for subpoena last week, and not the request made in Thursdays trial.

Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III reminded his colleagues that they would go into caucus at 11 a.m. on Monday, February 13.

Adjournment

At 6:30 p.m. the trial was adjourned. Trial will resume at 2 p.m. Monday, February 13.

Marlon Anthony Tonson/YA, GMA News

Day 16: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 13, 2012 8:45pm Defense lawyers asked to explain alleged bribery try

The senator-judges castigated members of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona's defense panel and demanded an explanation to the latters allegations that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. had offered P100 million for each senator-judge to vote against the Supreme Courts temporary restraining order (TRO) on Coronas dollar accounts.

Defense lawyer Jose Roy apologized to the senator-judges and said there was no malice in their statements. Senator Jinggoy Estrada dared the defense camp to reveal the source of their information on the alleged bribery attempt but Roy declined to do so, citing lawyer-client confidentiality.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV asked the defense camp to file within the week an explanation why its members should not be cited in contempt for making the allegations.

Senator-judges vote 13-10 to uphold TRO on Corona dollar accounts

During a caucus before the trial, the senator-judges voted 13-10 to abide by the Supreme Courts order prohibiting the impeachment court from examining the dollar accounts of Corona. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding officer, announced the decision at the resumption of the trial.

Nonetheless, Enrile said the Senate "reserves the right" to "vigorously defend" before the high tribunal the issuance of the subpoenas for the foreign bank deposit accounts. Those who voted to respect the high court's TRO were Enrile along with Senator-judges Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Manuel Villar, Ralph Recto, Francis Escudero, Koko Pimentel, Loren Legarda, Gregorio Honasan, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Ferdinand Marcos, Jinggoy Estrada, and Vicente Sotto III. Explaining their votes, Legarda and Santiago said the impeachment court is not authorized to violate the law, specifically the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, while Estrada expressed concern about a possible

constitutional crisis between the executive and judiciary if the impeachment court clashes with the high court.

Those who voted to defy the order were Senators Franklin Drilon, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Sergio Osmena III, Edgardo Angara, Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Lito Lapid, and Teofisto Guingona III. Cayetano and Guingona reasoned out that the majority decision will pose an impediment to their duty as an impeachment court and deny access to the truth.

Miriam gives Tupas a grade of 3

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago lectured lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. and gave him a barely passing grade of 3 for allegedly citing irrelevant cases in the impeachment complaint.

When asked what would constitute betrayal of public trust, Tupas cited Corona's bank deposits worth P31 million as against the amount of P3.5 million in the magistrate's Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth for 2010 as an example.

Santiago raised the specter of a bank run when bank officials are forced to testify about the deposits of individuals, similar to what happened during the impeachment trial against former President Joseph Estrada in 2001. But Tupas said only the accounts of Corona are under scrutiny in the name of public accountability and transparency.

Fake PSBank documents from small lady

PSBank-Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson testified that the supposed bank records of Corona showing $700,000 in deposits, which the prosecution team submitted to the impeachment court, were fake and did not come from the bank. The documents had been attached to the prosecutions request to subpoena Coronas bank records.

Tiongson said specimen signature cards from clients are kept inside a steel cabinet, which is secured inside a vault. She said she could not access these records without the consent of two people, Emelyn Dizon and Almond Raquiza, who act as primary custodians for the signature specimens. Similar documents are available in the bank's main office, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also saw the records during an audit last year, she said.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III said a report from the Senate sergeant-atarms regarding closed circuit television recordings did not show any small lady handing

over the records to Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who had narrated how he got hold of the envelope with the bank records at the Senate building last week.

Enrile gave the prosecution team 24 hours to explain how it obtained the records on Coronas bank accounts.

- with reports from Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Rouchelle Dinglasan/YA, GMA News

Day 17: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 14, 2012 5:23pm Supreme Court cannot assume jurisdiction over impeachment trial

At the start of the days trial, Senate President and Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile asserted that the Senate has the sole power to try and decide the impeachment case against Chief Justice Renato Corona, and that the Supreme Court cannot assume jurisdiction over the trial.

Enriles statement was a reaction to Coronas petition before the high court to stop the trial, citing several alleged violations of his rights, including the confidentiality of his bank accounts.

Enrile also assumed full responsibility for issuing a subpoena on Coronas bank records based on documents presented by the prosecution, which a witness has described as fake, and said he was prepared to face the consequences of his actions.

Alleged PSBank documents a liability for prosecution

Sen. Gregorio Honasan raised a question on the difference between a warrant and a subpoena. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked the two camps to clarify the issue through their respective memoranda.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said that spurious documents cannot be made the basis for the issuance of a subpoena, and it is the duty of the lawyer making the submission to prove its authenticity before the court.

Santiago scolded the House prosecutors for submitting copies of allegedly fake bank documents to the impeachment court, describing the records as a liability for the prosecution and a disgrace to the judicial system.

House prosecutor Rep. Rodolfo Farias replied that while they cannot vouch for the authenticity of the PSBank records allegedly showing the $700,000 deposits of Corona which they obtained from an anonymous woman, the prosecution panel felt it was their duty to submit them to the Senate

She said the prosecutors may be sanctioned if the Senate impeachment court proves that spurious records were attached to the subpoena request.

Camp John Hay exec will not testify regarding Cristina Coronas appointment

Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. informed the Senate impeachment court that the prosecution team will no longer call Camp John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) corporate secretary Marissa Bondoc as a witness because she has resigned from her post.

Bondoc was supposed to testify on the appointment of Coronas wife, Cristina, as a member of the JHMC board of directors in relation to Article III of the impeachment complaint. The prosecution had accused Corona of compromising his independence when he allowed his wife to accept the appointment made by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Enrile granted the prosecutions motion.

Defense objects to senator-judges acting as prosecutors


Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas raised concerns about senator-judges who are practically appearing to us as private prosecutors. Cuevas was reacting to the recall of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Ayala branch manager Leonora Dizon to the witness stand and subsequent questioning by Sen. Franklin Drilon, who started inquiring about the monthly transactions of Corona's BPI account. Cuevas found the questions very irregular and argued that there was no request, formal manifestation, or motion for Dizon's recall.

Presiding officer Enrile said it is the prerogative of senator-judges to recall a witness to the stand. The prosecution said the defense team had earlier agreed to jointly check Corona's bank records with the prosecution, but Cuevas said they later withdrew their position on the matter.

Early adjournment

A little past 4 p.m. lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas requested for an early adjournment of the trial so that all the parties can celebrate Valentine's Day and also the 88th birthday of Enrile, the presiding officer.

Lead public prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. joined in, as well as Senator Francis Pangilinan who said Enrile deserved the break. Enrile thanked everyone for their greetings. The trial will resume at 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 15.

- with reports from Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 18: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 15, 2012 6:37pm Request to quash subpoena for Coronas peso accounts denied

The impeachment court denied the motion of the defense team to quash the subpoena for the peso bank accounts of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. At the resumption of the trial, presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile reiterated the ruling of the court that the purpose of the subpoena is to find out if Corona has not included the deposits in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

On Tuesday, the defense team had asked the court to quash the subpoenas for the bank records and documents from the Philippine Airlines (PAL) related to Corona's travels, as well as those for the executives of PAL, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Philippine Savings Bank.

The court did not release any ruling on the subpoena for PAL executives and records of Coronas travels.

Dilemma regarding fake documents

Senator-judges Loren Legarda and Pia Cayetano expressed concerns about the courts treatment of the alleged fake documents regarding Coronas dollar accounts that the prosecution submitted to the Senate.

Enrile said the court will presume good faith on the part of the prosecution and take up the issue at length when the documents are offered as testimonial evidence. He added that the senator-judges will tackle the explanation of the prosecution team about the documents in a caucus next week.

Relative of PSBank branch manager is political ally of Tupas

Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada grilled Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson, a prosecution witness, regarding her familys political affiliation with lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. Estrada said Tiongsons

cousin was the running mate of Tupas brother in the gubernatorial race in Iloilo in 2010, and also served as vice governor when Tupas father served as Iloilo governor.

Tiongson, who is being questioned about the possible leakage of bank documents, said she hails from Iloilo but does not know and had never seen the Tupases before because she is not interested in the political affairs of her relatives.

Tupas also denied knowing Tiongson, saying the first time he saw her was when she took the witness stand Monday.

PSBank manager says fake bank records may have come from other sources

Upon questioning by Estrada on how copies of Coronas bank records that Tiongson had described as fake could have correctly identified the magistrates bank account, Tiongson said details such as account numbers could have come from other sources such as bank certifications and embassy documents.

Despite Tiongsons testimony, Estrada expressed the belief that the Corona bank record submitted by the prosecution is a faithful reproduction of the original. When asked by Senator Franklin Drilon to identify discrepancies in the copies of Coronas bank records presented by the prosecution, Tiongson said the bank records actually used PSBanks standard form, but some entries have been altered.

Enrile ordered Tiongson to bring the logbook containing records of the persons who accessed their clients customer identification and specimen signature cards during the next hearing.

PSBank President ordered to bring original copies of Corona dollar accounts

The impeachment court ordered PSBank president Pascual Garcia III to bring the original copies of the allegedly fake bank documents of Coronas dollar accounts. Enrile said this will prove the credibility of the witnesses, and in case the documents were forged, then the ones responsible shall be made to answer for it.

When Garcia cited the TRO on the dollar accounts, senator-judges Enrile and Drilon said he can just cover the details such as the amounts in the records. Garcia testified that there were certain differences between their documents and the ones presented by the prosecution, such as highlighted text and some signatures in the originals that are not present in the records submitted to the impeachment court.

- with reports from Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 19: Highlights of Corona impeachment trial at the Senate


February 16, 2012 7:22pm Miriam warns prosecution against hostile witnesses

At the start of trial, Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked the House prosecutors if they consider Philippine Savings Bank President Pascual Garcia III and PSBank-Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson as hostile witnesses, pointing out that the documents they produce may controvert the prosecution's allegations. She was referring to Tiongsons earlier testimony that the alleged bank documents of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona submitted by the prosecution to the impeachment court were fake.

Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. said they do not consider the two as hostile witnesses and that they were only called to produce documents. He said the prosecution panel will just make the necessary action later in case the witnesses testimonies do not support their arguments.

Santiago and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, warned the prosecution that the statements of the witnesses will be binding on the panel. Santiago added that she was merely trying to be helpful to the prosecutors.

Corona closed three accounts the day he was impeached

Taking the witness stand, branch manager Tiongson submitted bank certifications showing details of Corona's five time deposit accounts with the bank that were subpoenaed by the court.

Her testimony revealed that two of the accounts were closed on Dec. 12, 2011, the day Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives. One of the accounts was opened on December 22, 2009 with an opening balance of P8.5 million. The other account was opened on September 1, 2010 with an opening balance of P7,090,099.45.

When PSBank President Garcia III took the stand, he said there was a third account of Corona that was also closed on December 12, 2011 but was not covered by the subpoena. He said Corona opened the P17-million peso time deposit account in June 29 last year.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada expressed suspicion about the timing of the closing of Coronas bank accounts, even as he said he did not want to put any malice into it. Private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio said the bank accounts were closed apparently in preparation for the impeachment trial.

PSBank President says some details in "fake" Corona accounts are authentic

During questioning by Enrile, PSBank president Garcia said that although a document regarding Corona's dollar accounts obtained by the prosecution team had discrepancies vis--vis the original, some of the information on the copy were "authentic."

Garcia said he ordered several senior officers to transfer original copies of Corona's bank documents from the Katipunan branch to PSBank's head office after learning that a congressman had obtained photocopies and attempted to verify the records.

He said the documents were moved to a vault in their office with "dual access and dual control" but admitted he did not personally oversee the transfer and that "it is possible" someone may have opened the vault without his knowledge.

Rep. Banal asked for help from PSBank branch manager

During questioning by Senator Loren Legarda on how copies of Corona's bank accounts found their way to the prosecution panel, Tiongson denied giving information to anyone but said she was approached by Quezon City Rep. Jorge Bolet Banal about it.

Tiongson said Banal went to the bank and showed her photocopies of the documents, seeking guidance about the records. She said it was unclear what Banal wanted from her, and that he just asked if I could help decipher some of the symbols in the documents.

She said the congressman did not ask her to produce any documents, and that he left when she told him she could not help him. Before the trial was adjourned for the day, Banal explained to the court that he went to the bank last Jan. 31 to verify the handwritten notation 700k and dollar sign in a document that he found on his gate the previous night. As the prosecution team member in charge of finance, he said he undertook the verification of the document so he would not give any wrong information to his colleagues. He said Tiongson was very firm but polite in turning down his request.

The court ordered Banal to return at the resumption of the trial on Monday, Feb. 20.

with reports from Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 20 Corona trial highlights: BSP and AMLC accessed dollar account records
February 20, 2012 9:34pm Reminder from Santiago about foreign currency accounts

At the resumption of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Senatorjudge Miriam Defensor-Santiago reminded the participants that asking any questions about anyones foreign currency deposits without the consent of the depositor is a violation of the law, specifically Section 8 of Republic Act 6426.

Santiago praised Annabelle Tiongson, Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) Katipunan branch manager, for immediately reporting to her superiors the visit of Rep. Jorge Banal on January 31 ostensibly to ask for help in authenticating copies of Coronas purported bank records.

The senator advised legislators to read the law more carefully because under the rules of evidence, it is presumed that a person caught in possession of illegally obtained documents is the same person who stole the records.

About 40 members from the House of Representatives attended the hearing on Monday to express support for Banal, who was expected to explain to the court how he got hold of the documents and why he wanted Tiongson to verify them.

BSP and AMLC saw Corona's dollar account record

PSBank president Pascual Garcia III testified that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) accessed the purported bank records of Chief Justice Renato Corona. The prosecution panel had earlier submitted documents allegedly showing that Corona has $700,000 in his account.

During questioning by Senate President and presiding officer Enrile, Garcia said Bangko Sentral and AMLC officials at least saw the signature card for Coronas dollar accounts during an audit of PSBank from September to November 2010.

Garcia said the specimen signature card did not have the classification PEP or politically exposed persons, a tag required by AMLC and Bangko Sentral on accounts of elected public officials and senior government officers.

To determine if the documents submitted by the prosecution are indeed fake as earlier proclaimed by PSBank-Katipunan branch manager Annabelle Tiongson, Enrile asked Garcia to bring the source document of Coronas signature cards to the impeachment court.

AMLC clarifies role in BSP audit team

Senator-judge Aquilino Pimentel III clarified to Garcia that the AMLC does not conduct regular audits and said the PSBank president might be confused. Pimentel said he called the AMLC and they categorically deny having conducted an audit. He explained that an AMLC official merely accompanies the Bangko Sentral audit team. He asked Garcia to bring a second specimen card of Coronas signature.

Senator-judge Joker Arroyo expressed apprehension that bank audits might be used for political vendetta. Senator-judge Panfilo Lacson suggested that handwriting analysts from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) be tapped to determine whether Coronas signature does appear on the PSBank document which has yet to be authenticated. Enrile said it was the job of the prosecution, but Lacson said the speculations over the signatures should end. Enrile said Lacsons suggestion would be discussed in caucus.

Private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio tried to adopt Garcia as prosecution witness as far as the additional bank accounts were concerned, but he was countered by lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas. Enrile ruled that the marking of the additional Corona bank accounts as evidence would be deferred until the issue of whose witness Garcia was would be resolved.

Corona transferred P37 million to one account the day he was impeached

On the day he was impeached by the House of Representatives on Dec. 12, 2011, Corona transferred over P37 million from three accounts he closed on the same day to a single checking account, Garcia testified.

Garcia said the chief justice made the deposits in the form of credit memoranda for the following amounts: P7,397,566.36, P12,988,951.36, and P17,270,654.97.

- Reported by Andreo Calonzo, Rouchelle Dinglasan, and Marnie Tonson/YA/VS, GMA News

Day 21 Corona trial highlights: BPI submits bank records


February 21, 2012 6:28pm Prosecution castigated for failing to prepare evidence

Senate President and presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile scolded the House prosecutors for repeatedly failing to prepare their evidence in the impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato Corona. Enrile criticized the compulsory process in gathering evidence and warned the prosecution that this may be fatal to the proceedings."

Prosecutor Rep. Rodolfo Farias reasoned out that they had to elevate the impeachment complaint to the Senate immediately because it had garnered the support of one-third of the House. He added that they had clearly stated their allegations against Corona.

However, Enrile disputed the prosecutors assertion, saying the support of the House majority did not mean they could they could present Articles of Impeachment without any basis and in an unclear manner.

Enrile: Prosecution is fishing for evidence

Enrile branded as misrepresentation the insistence of private prosecutor Arthur Lim to mark Coronas bank records from the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) as evidence, even though these documents were requested by the defense panel which later withdrew its request and Senator Franklin Drilon.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas blocked Lims attempt to ask for assurance from Coronas lawyers that they will present the records from the BPI once it is their turn to present evidence. He questioned the legal obligation of compelling the defense to produce documents that are not in their favor.

BPI submits bank records of Corona

BPI-Ayala assistant manager Mara Arcilla took the witness stand but was not allowed to testify because the impeachment court only requested the bank documents of Corona

that were said to contain P12 million at the end of 2010, according to an earlier testimony from branch manager Leonora Dizon.

Arcilla turned over the bank documents to the court, and Enrile told Lim that the prosecution can adopt the bank documents as evidence at the proper time. Upon the request of the defense camp, Enrile also ordered that the confidential bank records be placed inside a sealed envelope to prevent public exposure. After the bank official was discharged, lead public prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. informed the court that the prosecution has finished presenting evidence on Article II of the impeachment complaint, which accuses Corona of non-disclosure of some of his properties in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).

Testimony of PAL exec disallowed

The prosecution team attempted to present Philippine Airlines (PAL) vice president for sales Enrique Javier to prove that Corona and his wife allegedly received benefits from the airline while it had cases pending before the court.

Javier was supposed to be the second witness for Article III of the Articles of Impeachment, which accuses Corona of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust in connection with the high courts flip-flopping decisions on the PAL-FASAP labor row.

However, Enrile disallowed the presentation, saying Javiers testimony would be an attempt at expanding the coverage of the Articles of Impeachment. The ruling was made after Cuevas objected to Javier's testimony for being irrelevant, immaterial, and impertinent to the case.

Corona couple got free flights from PAL?

Despite the failure of the prosecution to present Javier as a witness, private prosecutor Marlon Manuel managed to put on record the privileges allegedly enjoyed by Corona and his wife Cristina from the flag carrier while the airline had cases pending before the Supreme Court.

According to the prosecution, Corona made four trips abroad while his wife made 12 domestic and foreign trips in 2010 and 2011 using their PAL Platinum cards, which allow holders to get unlimited free flights with first-class seats.

Cuevas objected to the presentation of the flight documents and moved that it be stricken off the record. However, Enrile allowed the flight records to remain on record for the evaluation of the impeachment court.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 22 Corona trial highlights: De Lima takes witness stand


February 22, 2012 7:22pm 3 charges under Article III dropped

Prosecutor and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao informed the impeachment court that they will no longer present evidence on paragraphs 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6 of Article III. These are the allegations that Chief Justice Renato Corona compromised his independence when his wife Cristina accepted an appointment to the Board of the John Hay Management Corporation, discussed a pending case with a litigant in connection with the Vizconde massacre case, and dismissed the Inter-petal Recreational Corporation case under suspicious circumstances.

However, Aggabao said the prosecution panel will retain the charge on the alleged flipflopping of the Supreme Court on the case of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) against the Philippine Airlines.

Aggabao said they have concluded the presentation of evidence for Article III, a day after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile prevented a witness from testifying on the benefits that Corona allegedly received from PAL while the company had pending cases with the high tribunal. The only witness presented earlier was FASAP president Robert Anduiza, who blamed Corona for the recall order on the union's 13-year-old labor dispute against PAL.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima testifies on Article VII

The prosecution presented Justice Leila de Lima as its first witness for Article VII, which accuses Corona of betrayal of public trust through his partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo in order for them to escape prosecution.

Rep. Neri Colmenares, the prosecutor in charge of the Article VII, accused Corona of providing information to SC spokesperson Midas Marquez that misled the public about the TRO in favor of Arroyo, who is facing non-bailable electoral fraud charges.

Under the direct examination of Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza, De Lima cited the dissenting opinion of Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on the TRO, which showed that the

chief magistrate tried to approach Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco and requested him not to promulgate the dissenting opinions.

De Lima said she issued at least three watch list orders against Mrs. Arroyo, who sent her three separate letters in September and October last year requesting the issuance of an allow departure order. After obtaining the opinion of Health Secretary Enrique Ona that Mrs. Arroyos condition was not life-threatening, De Lima said she denied the requests.

The Justice Secretary said she doubted Mrs. Arroyo's real reason for leaving the country after finding out that the former president was also scheduled to attend conferences in the United States and Switzerland and intended to bring at least 14 people during her trip abroad.

Miriam supports Enrile

At the start of Wednesday's proceedings, Senator-judge Miriam Defensor Santiago stood up to express support for Enrile's ruling on Tuesday to prevent the testimony of a PAL executive regarding Coronas alleged benefits from the company.

Without naming names, Santiago also criticized trial participants who are singing a false note and stressed the primacy of a person's right to equal protection of the law and due process.

She left the session early after feeling dizzy due to her chronic fatigue syndrome, which she had earlier said could be attributed to a hereditary heart condition.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 23 Corona trial highlights: No vendetta, says de Lima


February 23, 2012 7:07pm Joker Arroyo questions vested interest of private prosecutor

Senator-judge Joker Arroyo questioned the role of private prosecutor Marlon Manuel, a lawyer of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), saying the latter has vested interests other than prosecuting the case against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Manuel had argued the case for Article III of the impeachment complaint which, among others, faults Corona for the alleged flip-flopping of the Supreme Court on the case of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP) against Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao told Arroyo that there is no conflict of interest because Manuel is the counsel of PALEA and not FASAP, which are two different labor groups.

De Lima testimony dismissed as hearsay

Presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile told senator-judges to disregard Justice Sec. Leila De Limas interpretation of the dissenting opinion of Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in the Supreme Courts issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO), which almost resulted in ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaving the country last November.

Enrile described the testimony as hearsay because the witness was not present when the high court was deliberating on the issue. However, Enrile allowed De Limas narration of the facts based on Serenos dissenting opinion to remain in the Senate records. In response to a question from Senator-judge Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on how the court should handle her narration, De Lima said she had personal knowledge of some aspects of Sereno's dissenting opinion. In particular, she said she knew how Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez misrepresented the voting of the high tribunal by saying it was 9-4 instead of 7-6.

Asked if she would categorically say that she defied the high court's TRO, De Lima said her agency did not follow the Supreme Court because it did not have a copy of the TRO at that time.

When asked by Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano if someone else told her that Corona might be trying to influence the high court's ruling on Mrs. Arroyo's watch list order, De Lima declined to answer and invoked executive privilege.

Cayetano asked House prosecutor and Rep. Neri Colmenares a similar question, and he replied that no one told them anything. Following the ruling of Enrile, Senator-judge Antonio Trillanes IV asked the court to send questions to Justice Sereno so she can shed light on the circumstances surrounding the TRO issued by the high court.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III proposed that Trillanes motion be deliberated upon by the impeachment court in a caucus on Monday, which Enrile approved.

No political vendetta, says De Lima

Senator-Judge Panfilo Lacson, who was placed on the Immigration watch list in February 2010 after a complaint was filed against him for the deaths of publicist Salvador Dacer and his driver, expressed concern that hold departure orders (HDO) and watch list orders (WLO) are sometimes used by public officials against their enemies.

De Lima, who had been at odds with Lacson when he was placed on the watch list, assured the court that she does not use her power for any political motives or political vendetta. The Justice Department had placed Mrs. Arroyo on the watch list due to several plunder complaints and an electoral sabotage case filed against her last year.

No truth to rumors regarding Chief Justice post, De Lima says

Questioned by Estrada about alleged rumors that she was offered the post of Chief Justice if ever Corona is convicted, De Lima said she was not aware of such talk and would probably decline if the position was offered to her.

Estrada jokingly asked her if she would opt to run for the Senate instead, and De Lima replied that she does not plan her career.

Prosecution: Corona voted in favor of Arroyo in 80% of cases

During the presentation of evidence on Article VII of the impeachment complaint, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada asked the prosecution how many times Corona favored Mrs. Arroyo in cases pending before the Supreme Court.

Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza said their research showed that Corona voted in favor of Mrs. Arroyo in 31 cases, or about 80 per cent of the total number of cases involving the former president pending in the high court.

Estrada asked why the prosecutors had to separate Article VII, which deals with the TRO favoring Mrs. Arroyo, from Article I, which accuses Corona of partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo administration. He said the two could have been merged into one article because they were similar in nature.

Daza said the prosecution separated the two articles because some of the cases under Article I are still pending before the SC.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 24 Highlights of Corona trial: Heated discussion about prosecution's intent to put SC Associate Justice Sereno on witness stand
February 27, 2012 8:43pm Senator-judge Trillanes withdraws motion during caucus

Presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile announced that during Mondays caucus of the Senate sitting as an impeachment court, Senator-judge Antonio Trillanes IV withdrew his motion to send questions for Supreme Court Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno by snail mail.

As regards the prosecutions motion for clarification on Enriles ruling to disallow the testimony of a Philippine Airlines official, the presiding officer reiterated that the articles of impeachment cannot be expanded.

Getting SC employees to attend the trial

Rep. Neri Colmenares, the lead House prosecutor for Article VII that accuses Chief Justice Renato Corona of betraying public trust through his alleged partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last November, made a manifestation.

Colmenares said Justice Secretary Leila De Lima was served a copy of the temporary restraining order (TRO) by two SC personnel who turned out to be a security guard and a driver. He lamented that although the two had been present in the Senate building, both were called back to the SC by their superiors. He asked the Senate to enforce its subpoenas because those SC employees would only be testifying on administrative matters such as the time of service of TRO upon De Lima.

Asked by Enrile what could be done to the SC employees if they defy the subpoena, Colmenares replied that the impeachment court could cite them for contempt.

At this juncture, Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III said the SC had sent the Senate a letterrequest to exempt SC employees from testifying in view of the Feb. 14 SC resolution on judicial privilege. He told Colmenares that the issue of the SC employees would be better discussed by the clerks of court, respectively, of the SC and of the impeachment court.

Inviting Justice Sereno to testify

As regards the prosecutions intent to put SC Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on the witness stand, Enrile told Colmenares to try inviting her because the Senate had already ruled against issuing subpoenas to SC justices. Besides, added Enrile, what did the prosecution expect to happen should Sereno turn down the invitation or defy the subpoena? Colmenares replied that he trusted Sereno would accept the invite or follow the subpoena.

Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago scolded the prosecution for prodding the Senate into a collision course with the Supreme Court. She lectured the prosecution that in the same way that the Executive branch has executive privilege and Congress has legislative privilege, the Judiciary has judicial privilege or deliberative process privilege.

Colmenares recalled that in Senate vs. Secretary Neri, the Senate succeeded in limiting the scope of executive privilege to only certain matters, adding that this should apply to judicial privilege. But Enrile pointed out that the Supreme Court itself decided on limiting the scope of executive privilege. Enrile stressed that the impeachment court was carefully doing its job to avoid disrupting the system of government.

Senator-judge Francis Escudero said the prosecutors themselves should invite Sereno instead of relying on the Senates compulsory processes because it was the duty of the prosecution to present its witnesses.

When Colmenares expressed the prosecution panels fear that inviting Sereno might be construed as forcing her, Senator-judge Panfilo Lacson castigated the prosecutors for passing the buck to the Senate. Colmenares said that prosecutors don't have the same power of the Senate, adding that the Feb. 14 SC resolution prohibits summoning SC employees.

Senator-judge Joker Arroyo expressed amazement when Colmenares claimed it was difficult to get witnesses to testify against the chief justice. The prosecution is backed by the President of the Philippines, the senator-judge noted.

Gloria Arroyos doctor testifies

Private prosecutor Arthur Lim conducted the direct examination of Dr. Juliet GopezCervantes, main attending physician of former President Arroyo at St. Lukes Medical Center.

Cervantes was considered an ordinary witness to establish Mrs. Arroyos medical certificate on October 1, 2011 submitted to SC before the deliberations on the TRO against the watch list order that kept the Arroyo couple from leaving the country.

Lim confirmed to defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas that the medical certificate was connected to the SC TRO.

From the Office of the Vice-President

House prosecutor Rep. Raul Daza conducted direct examination of Emma Abanador Office of the Vice-President administrative officer. Prosecution was trying to establish Coronas close ties with Arroyo even before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2002.

Abanador authenticated the April to December 2001 Certificate of Service rendered by Corona to Arroyo, as well as a consultancy agreement between them on January 24, 2001. The defense team did not cross-examine her.

Media person authenticates video

Private prosecutor Al Parreo conducted the direct examination of ABS-CBN cameraman Edmond Losalla, who authenticated three raw videos that include the SCs Nov. 15, 2011 press conference on the issuance of the TRO and an interview with Arroyos legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio.

Cuevas argued Losallas statements were immaterial and irrelevant to the case, and that the video showing SC spokesperson and court administrator Jose Midas Marques was not binding on the Supreme Court. Cuevas also noted the video showing a bag of P1-million cash simply reflected the payment of the cash bond as one of the conditions set in the TRO.

Senator-judge Loren Legarda concurred with Cuevas that the video was not very relevant or material at this point. She requested for a transcript of the video because some portions were inaudible.

As Cuevas was cross-examining Losalla, Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada noted the questions have no connection to the case because the cameraman was there merely to authenticate the video footages and not testify on the news coverage. Enrile agreed, saying that the video was the best evidence. Among other questions, Cuevas asked Losalla about his salary history at ABS-CBN.

Senator-judge Aquilino Pimentel III asked Cuevas whether he was following the proper procedure in having a document shown to Losalla who had nothing to do with the document marked as an exhibit. Cuevas assured Pimentel that it was the right time to mark it for the defense because it had already been previously marked by prosecution as their exhibit. He maintained that even if we adopt the strictest rule this will pass judicial scrutiny.

Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/VS/KG/HS, GMA News

Day 25 Corona trial highlights: Prosecution drops five articles of impeachment


February 28, 2012 8:30pm Road traffic delays trial

ABS-CBN cameraman Edmund Losalla returned to the witness stand, but defense lawyer Joel Bodegon said several lawyers of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, including lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas, were stuck in traffic on route to the Senate. Upon motion of Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III, the cross-examination of Losalla was suspended.

Presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile told the prosecution to present its next witness Malacaang records officer Elenita Gatbonton in lieu of her office head Marianito Dimaandal.

Private prosecutor Claro Mamaril conducted the direct examination of Gatbonton who, in turn, authenticated Coronas service records and his appointment as chief justice in relation to Article VII, which accuses Corona of betraying public trust through his partiality to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Videos of Arroyo couple attempting to leave town shown

Private prosecutor Al Parreo began the direct examination of ABS-CBN cameraman Danny Piedad but the presiding officer soon took over questioning the witness. Piedad is the cameraman of ABS-CBN reporter Zen Hernandez.

Piedad testified he shot the video of former President Arroyos arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Nov. 15, 2011. That video was afterwards shown on a projection screen at the Senate session hall.

Parreo asked the defense panel to stipulate on the authenticity of the video but lead defense counsel Cuevas, who had just arrived, refused and asked to be given time before cross-examining the cameraman. In response, Parreo said that following the Rules on Electronic Evidence, the prosecution would then have to call to the witness stand the custodian of the compact flash (CF) card of the video.

Parreo conducted the direct examination of ABS-CBN video librarian Rochelle Inoncillo-Mendez, who authenticated the video recording of the attempt of former President Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel to leave the country on Nov. 15, 2011, and the circumstances surrounding the Supreme Courts issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the watch list order against the Arroyo couple.

Mendez also testified on the authenticity of the seven digital versatile discs (DVDs) her office produced to comply with the Senates subpoena duces tecum. Mendez confirmed she was the custodian who received the CF or CompactFlash cards containing the video footage, including the press conferences of Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez talking about the TRO on Nov. 15, 16, and 21.

On cross-examination, Mendez admitted she cannot testify on the events recorded in the CF cards and DVDs because she was not present during, and did not witness, the events. Thus, Cuevas assailed Mendezs testimony as hearsay.

But the presiding officer declared Mendez as a competent witness because she was the custodian of the DVDs and CF cards. Still, Enrile admitted that her statements on events recorded on video falls under hearsay. He ruled that the best evidence on the content of the DVDs were the DVDs themselves, adding that the events were already common public knowledge that the Senate can take judicial notice of.

Cuevas conducted and finished the cross examination of Losalla, who had testified the day before. Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada asked prosecution how many more witnesses they would present for Article VII. House lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas replied that prosecution was done presenting witnesses.

Senator-judge Loren Legarda grilled Parreo on prosecutions purpose in showing the video footage of the bag containing P2 million that was brought to the SC for the Arroyo couples cash bond. Parreo explained that the video showed the attempt of payment on Nov. 15, 2011, at 4:15 p.m. but which payment was allowed at 6:03 p.m. after the courts regular office hours.

SC insists justices and personnel cannot testify

Senate Secretary Emma Lirio, as the impeachment trial clerk of court, read into the record the response of SC Clerk of Court Enriquetta Vidal reiterating the SCs Feb. 14, 2012 resolution disallowing SC justices and personnel from testifying in the impeachment trial.

House prosecutor Rep. Neri Colmenares manifested that the Supreme Court already denied their request to allow SC process servers Christopher Dollente and Eric Borlongan to testify during the trial. The two had served upon Justice Secretary Leila De Lima the TRO in favor of the Arroyo couple. Colmenares branded the SCs refusal as sad and frightening and asked whether the SC was hiding something from the impeachment court.

But Enrile said the prosecution cannot expect the Senate to force the SC employees to testify in the impeachment trial. Senator-judge Francis Pangilinan was concerned about the SC keeping its employees from testifying before the impeachment court. What other orders or rulings will the Supreme Court undertake thereby withering away the powers of this impeachment court?" He said the Senate should assert the primacy and supremacy of the impeachment court or else impeachment might become a joint undertaking with the SC.

Enrile clarified that the SC has no jurisdiction over the trial and the decision of the impeachment case which remains with the Senate. Likewise, the Senate cannot interfere with the internal rules of the SC, he explained.

Senator-judge Franklin Drilon suggested, and Sotto agreed, that the Senate discuss in caucus next week whether to put to a vote its response to the SCs refusal to allow SC personnel to testify in the impeachment trial.

Prosecution drops five articles of impeachment

Lead House prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. announced that his panel would no longer present evidence on the five other articles of impeachment against the chief justice, saying they havealready presented a strong case and evidence to suffice to convict Corona for betrayal of public trust. He confirmed to Enrile that the prosecution would stand or fall on the bases of the following three articles of impeachment:
o o o

Article II (non-disclosure of properties in Coronas statements of assets, liabilities and net worth or SALN) Article III (lack of probity, integrity and independence) and Article VI (irregularities in the issuance of a temporary restraining order for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last November).

But Tupas said the prosecution reserved the right to present evidence on Coronas dollar account once the TRO issued by the SC is lifted. He recalled that the prosecution

has thus far presented 25 witnesses and marked 395 documents in support of three impeachment articles, and that his panel would then choose which to formally offer as evidence to the impeachment court.

The presiding officer initially wanted the prosecution to file a motion on the dropping of the articles, but Senator-judge Joker Arroyo said a formal notice would do instead which Enrile instructed the prosecution to file as regards the dropping of the following five impeachment articles:
o o o o o

Article I (partiality to Mrs. Arroyo in SC decisions) Article IV (irregularities in the issuance of the status quo ante order on the impeachment proceedings of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez) Article V (gerrymandering in the creation of 16 new cities and the declaration of Dinagat Island as a province) Article VI (allegedly improper investigation of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillos plagiarism case) and Article VIII (failure and refusal to account for the Judiciary Development Fund and Special Allowance for the Judiciary)

Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/VS/KG, GMA News

Day 26 Corona trial highlights:Prosecution lawyer cited for contempt


February 29, 2012 10:08pm Wasted time

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano shared his legal research in relation to immunity of Supreme Court (SC) justices, urging the Senate to discuss further the SC resolution barring employees from testifying and releasing documents.

Senator-judge Pia Cayetano scolded the House prosecution panel for wasting the impeachment courts time because they failed to get testimony to show that the SC had extended its office hours to allow former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to comply with the cash bond required by the SCs temporary restraining order.

Enrile: No one has won yet

Presiding officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile warned both the defense and prosecution panels against claiming victory in the yet to be concluded impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Enrile stressed not even those who practiced law extensively can yet be sure of the outcome of this case, adding that everyone should wait for the completion of the entire trial until a judgment can be pronounced.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas conducted the cross-examination of ABS-CBN cameraman Danny Piedad, who recounted how he was told to cover the Arroyo couples blocked attempt to travel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Miriam subjects prosecutors to more tongue-lashing Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago criticized the prosecutors for allegedly bragging about their victory despite dropping five articles of impeachment against Corona, emphasizing her disdain with a Waaah! (and making sure that the Senate records reflect this). She lamented that the prosecution was misleading the court and

in very bad faith all along, insinuating that some members were very fond of the occult arts.

Santiago stressed that only the impeachment court can decide on who would win the case and faulted the prosecution for conducting a trial by publicity. She said those in the prosecution panel who were bragging about the strength of the impeachment case were idiots or gago. Upon motion of House deputy lead prosecutor Rep. Rodolfo Farias later in the trial, the word gago was expunged from the records of the Senate.

Santiago then lashed out at a University of the Philippines (UP) student survey showing Corona no longer enjoyed the trust of many of the UP students. She said those behind the survey should be kicked out immediately for playing games as regards the impeachment trial.

Prosecutors to rest case

House lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. announced that his panel would no longer try to get SC Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to testify and that the prosecution would be resting its case with reservation.

But Senator-judge Francis Escudero pointed out that dropping five articles of impeachment constitutes an amendment of the complaint and asked whether the entire House of Representatives had been consulted first by the prosecution panel. Tupas said that although there had been no formal consultation with the 188 signatories of the impeachment complaint, the panel had spoken with the Speaker of the House.

Defense counsel Roy said that the defense would still present evidence on the five articles on impeachment even if the prosecution drops them, pointing out that they will then ask the Impeachment Court to rule on those articles and acquit Corona on those charges.

After Tupas asked for two days to make a formal offer of evidence, Santiago countered with Are you kidding us? and a Waah Part Two. She said that resting ones case meant that one is done and there can be no reservations, adding that the prosecutors brains are very, very dark."

But the presiding officer gave the prosecution until March 2 to file their formal offer of evidence, and the defense panel five days in which to file their objections.

Private prosecutor answers back at Miriam

Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada asked who was the private prosecutor covering his ears while Santiago was castigating the prosecution for withdrawing the remaining Articles of Impeachment. Estrada took that as a sign of disrespect.

The lawyer was identified as Vitaliano Aguirre II, who admitted that he tried to block the voice of Santiago by placing his hands on his ears because he was hurt by her statements.

What Santiago was saying about the non-existence of withdrawals of charges was not true, because such was common court practice, Aguirre said, adding that it was the first time in his 40 years of practice that he had to put up with a judge lecturing the lawyers in open court.

Asked by Estrada why he had not objected to what Santiago was saying, Aguirre replied he cannot object to a senator-judge. At this point, Santiago moved that Aguirre be cited in contempt and told him he should have walked out of the courtroom if he did not want to listen to what she was saying. Aguirre answered back by saying that he would indeed walk out.

Even though Santiago was a senator-judge, Aguirre said she should also respect the prosecutors from whom she demanded respect. Enrile appealed to everyone to remain calm and suspended the session. Aguirre was escorted out of the Senate session hall and was brought to the prosecution room.

Senate cites lawyer in contempt

Upon resumption of session, Senator-judge Pia Cayetano seconded Santiagos motion to cite Aguirre for contempt. Cayetano read out the rules which states that those held in contempt face 10 days in jail or pay a P2,000 fine.

House deputy lead prosecutor Rep. Farias apologized for the private prosecutors actions. Enrile said that although the apology was accepted, the Senate would still cite Aguirre in contempt for his disrespect of this court. The Senate would discuss in caucus what penalty to impose on the lawyer.

The trial was adjourned and set to resume on March 12.

Marlon Anthony R. Tonson/VS,GMA News

Day 27 Corona trial highlights: Defense lawyer cited for contempt


March 12, 2012 8:19pm Request to subpoena congressmen denied

The impeachment court denied the defense team's request to subpoena several congressmen in connection with the verification of the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona. The defense lawyers have argued that the impeachment complaint signed by 188 members of the House of Representatives was done hastily.

In rejecting the defense motion, the Senate gave weight to the House prosecution teams argument that the impeachment process was done in accordance with its rules. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, said the court has accepted that the complaint was verified and the trial is already underway.

Evidence on PAL privileges will not be accepted

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III announced the impeachment courts ruling that disallows the admission of evidence on the accusation that Corona allegedly received benefits from Philippine Airlines (PAL) while the company had cases pending before the high tribunal.

The court deemed the evidence improper as these documents have already been excluded by the court because they tend to prove bribery... a crime not alleged in Article III of the Articles of Impeachment.

All evidence on bank accounts will be admitted


The Senate reiterated its ruling denying the defense's motion to suppress evidence on Corona's bank accounts, which was announced last week. Enrile had said that in connection with Article II of the Articles of Impeachment, Whatever evidence presented with respect to bank accounts, they're all accepted, admitted.

Court will not vote on five articles of impeachment

Enrile denied the motion of the defense panel for the impeachment court to formally dismiss Articles I, IV, V, VI, and VIII of the Articles of Impeachment, which had earlier been dropped by the prosecutors.

However, Enrile said the senator-judges have a clear understanding that the impeachment court will no longer vote or receive any evidence from the prosecution and defense on the five dropped articles.

Rep. Tiangco testifies as first defense witness

The defense panel presented Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco as its first witness to show that the impeachment of Corona was politically motivated, according to lawyer Dennis Manalo.

In his testimony, Tiangco said the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona was an attempt to control or scare the Supreme Court. He narrated the events that transpired during the Dec. 12, 2011 caucus where Coronas impeachment was discussed. Tiangco said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. told the legislators that Corona should be impeached because of his closeness with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who appointed him to the Supreme Court.

Tiangco said he nearly signed the impeachment complaint because he did not want to displease President Benigno Aquino III. However, in the end, he decided not to sign because he had not read the complaint and he was not convinced of the probable cause for the impeachment of the chief justice.

Validity of impeachment complaint upheld

The impeachment court denied the defense camps plea to tackle the validity of the impeachment complaint, saying it had satisfied the requirements prescribed by the Constitution.

Enrile also ruled that Corona was not denied due process in the trial, saying the upper house had notified Corona about the impeachment complaint and in turn, the chief magistrate had submitted a response to the Senate.

Defense lawyer cited for contempt due to allegation of bribery attempt

The court decided to cite defense lawyer Jose Roy III for indirect contempt for claiming at a press conference last month that Malacaang was urging senator-judges not to honor the Supreme Court order stopping them from examining Coronas dollar accounts.

Enrile said the penalty for Roy, who had claimed that Malacaang allotted P100 million for the projects of each senator-judge from government savings, will be determined in a caucus.

The Senate President said the implication of Roys statement is rather serious because it, in effect, suggests that this court could be paid in making a decision. And I don't think that is a proper thing to even think about this impeachment court.

Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Rouchelle Dinglasan/YA, GMA News

Day 28 Corona trial highlights: Cousin testifies on Mrs. Corona's properties


March 13, 2012 8:05pm SC disbursement officer presented as second witness

The defense panel presented Araceli Bayuga, chief disbursement officer of the Supreme Court, as its second witness to authenticate documents on the remuneration received by Chief Justice Renato Corona during his tenure. Her testimony is related to Article II of the impeachment complaint, which accuses the magistrate of failure to disclose certain properties in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

In her testimony, Bayuga said Justice Corona received over P21 million in salaries and benefits during his stint in the Supreme Court from 2002 to 2011. Bayuga also belied the earlier testimony of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares to the impeachment court that the SC did not file an alpha list -- a document submitted annually to the BIR which identifies all the employees whose income taxes are withheld from 2002 to 2005. Bayuga produced copies of the SCs alpha list for 2002 to 2005, which she said was released by the BIR.

Second cousin of Corona testifies on 7 properties

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas presented Demetrio Vicente, 70, as their third witness to prove that seven parcels of land allegedly owned by Corona's wife Cristina in Marikina City were actually owned by Vicente. Corona has been accused of failing to declare the properties in his SALN.

In his testimony, Vicente said he bought the property from Mrs. Corona in July 1990, and presented seven absolute deeds of sale to prove the transaction. However, he said the titles are still registered in the name of Mrs. Corona because he ran out of funds to get them transferred to his name.

During cross examination, prosecutor Jose Justiniano cited a Feb. 21, 2012 certification to prove that the person who notarized the deed of sale was not an authorized notary public in Makati, where the transaction was done.

Vicente said during his testimony that he is a second cousin of Justice Corona.

Defense lawyer reprimanded

The impeachment court reprimanded defense counsel Jose Roy III for claiming last month that Malacaang dangled a P100-million bribe for each senator-judge in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona.

Roy was earlier cited for indirect contempt for refusing to disclose the source of the information and to identify the senator-judges whom he said were approached by Malacaang.

During the trial, Roy said he accepted the decision but added that the defense team stands by its actions.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 29 Corona trial highlights: P5 million in non-taxable allowances


March 14, 2012 7:31pm Defense asks prosecution for missing evidence

At the start of Wednesday's trial, the defense team of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona said a piece of documentary evidence the handwritten letter of Mrs. Cristina Corona acknowledging receipt of several land titles went missing after it was borrowed by the prosecution Tuesday.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas told the impeachment court that the last time the defense team saw the letter was before private prosecutor Jose Justiniano borrowed it. But when he asked Justiniano about the document after the proceedings, he said the prosecutor could not give a satisfactory answer.

Justiniano said he recalls borrowing a bunch of documents from the defense team but could not remember if Mrs. Coronas letter was among them. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, ordered Justiniano to look for the letter and return it to the defense team.

No need to liquidate allowances of SC Justices

Continuing her earlier testimony, Supreme Court chief disbursing officer Araceli Bayuga said themagistrates are not required to liquidate their allowances, which are all given in cash. She said the only thing the SC Justices need to do is submit a certification, which is included in the payroll.

Bayuga said the only taxable items are the salary, longevity pay, and yearend bonus in excess of P30,000 of each Justice. All the allowances are not taxed, she said.

Relevance of SC officer's testimony questioned

Senator-judge Antonio Trillanes IV questioned the relevance of Bayugas testimony, saying the defense panel seems to be reviving Article 2.4 of the impeachment complaint on Coronas alleged ill-gotten wealth, which the Senate had struck down.

Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano expressed the same view, saying Bayugas testimony did not seem to be related to allegations on supposed inaccuracies in Coronas statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Cuevas reasoned out that Bayugas testimony is just preliminary and the defense team would be presenting other witnesses on the SALN issue.

Corona got P5 million in allowances from electoral tribunals

The defense team presented two witnesses who testified that Corona received about P5 million in non-taxable allowances while serving as a member of electoral tribunals that handled poll protests against members of the Philippine Congress.

Girlie Salarda, secretary of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), told the impeachment court that Corona received about P2.5 million in allowances and other benefits as a member of HRET from 2008 to 2009. Corona received an additional P855,784.93 when he became HRET chair from Nov. 6, 2009 to Feb. 27, 2010, according to Salarda.

Meanwhile, Corona received almost P1.7 million in allowances during his 14-month tenure as member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) from 2008 to 2009, according to SET secretary Irene Guevarra.

Reported by Kimberly Jan Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 30 Corona trial highlights: Value of Taguig and QC properties affirmed


March 15, 2012 7:54pm Missing document found and returned

Pangasinan Rep. Marilyn Primicias-Agabas, a member of the prosecution team, informed the impeachment court on Thursday that she found a hand-written letter from Cristina Corona, wife of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, inadvertently inserted among the documents in her car.

In the letter, which was earlier reported missing, Mrs. Corona acknowledged the sale of seven parcels of land to her husbands second cousin, Demetrio Vicente, in 1990. Agabas said the prosecution immediately returned the document to the defense team.

Coronas properties in Taguig

The defense panel presented Engineer Roberto Villaruz, officer-in-charge of the Taguig City Assessors Office, to the witness stand to explain the non-inclusion of a P6.1-million condominium unit at McKinley Hill Village in Taguig City in Coronas 2010 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Villaruz presented a photocopy of the certificate of title showing that the condominium unit has already been transferred to the name of the chief magistrates daughter, Charina. Defense lawyer Dennis Manalo said this was the basis for the non-inclusion of the P6.1-million property in Coronas 2010 SALN.

Private prosecutor Jose Benjamin Panganiban, however, said that Villaruz cannot testify on the transfer certificate because he is not the custodian of the document. He said the register of deeds is more competent to testify on the matter.

Villaruz said that based on tax declarations, Coronas condominium unit at the Bonifacio Ridge has an assessed value of over P1.4 million, a figure that matches the magistrates SALN declaration in 2010. Similarly, Corona's condominium unit at the Bellagio Tower I has an assessed value of over P3.4 million, as reflected in the Coronas SALN.

Assessment of QC properties

Quezon City Assessor's Office officer-in-charge Rodolfo Ordanes presented a tax declaration that shows Corona's condominium unit at the Burgundy Plaza in Katipunan Avenue had a fair market value of P921,000 and an assessed value of P276,320 as stated in the chief magistrate's SALN.

He also testified that Corona's property in La Vista subdivision in Quezon City has been transferred to their daughter Ma. Carla Castillo. Ordanes presented four tax declarations for Coronas property in Xavierville Avenue Subdivision in Brgy. Loyola and a tax declaration for his property in Ayala Heights, Brgy. Pansol.

Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan and Andreo Calonzo/YA, GMA News

Day 31 Corona trial highlights: Three QC properties sold to daughter


March 19, 2012 7:46pm Cuevas absent for the first time

For the first time since the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona began last January 16, lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas was not present at the hearing on Monday due to an undisclosed illness.

Lawyer Joel Bodegon informed the impeachment court that he will be acting as lead counsel of the defense team in the absence of the 83-year old Cuevas.

Article II a closed case?

At the start of the proceedings, Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago argued that the deliberation on Article II of the impeachment case should be closed because Coronas SALN was found to have been declared and its contents were disclosed to the public during the trial.

She said the impeachment court needs to decide what is impeachable in terms of the SALN following the presentation of the evidence. She said the Code of Conduct of Public Officials stipulates that if a person makes a mistake on his SALN in good faith, the action is not impeachable.

Santiago challenged the prosecution to show substantial evidence that Corona intentionally omitted some items on his SALN or had any intent to show dishonesty. For the defense team, she said they have to prove that Corona declared all his bank deposits in good faith or if he did not, to explain why. Sen. Joker Arroyo raised the question on whether a correctible offense was impeachable or not, and challenged both the prosecution and defense teams to study the matter.

Makati city assessor affirms value of The Columns unit

The defense team presented Engineer Mario Badillo, head of the Makati City Assessors Office, who affirmed the assessed and current fair market values of a condominium unit at The Columnsalong Ayala Avenue owned by Justice Corona.

The figures mentioned by Badillo matched the declared amounts in the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) of Corona in 2010.

Delayed declaration of Makati condo deemed ridiculous

Senator-judge Sergio Osmea described as absolutely ridiculous the delayed declaration of The Columns condominium unit in Coronas 2010 SALN, considering that the deed of sale and transfer of the unit was signed in 2004.

Senator-judge Panfilo Lacson also added that the Corona couple already owned the unit when the title was transferred to them in 2004. Defense lawyer Jose Roy III, however, said Mrs. Cristina Corona did not formally accept the unit until 2010 because of defects in the condo that put its value under dispute. To prove its argument, the defense team presented Benz Lim, property manager at The Columns, who showed a demand letter against Mrs. Corona for failure to settle the association dues of the condominium unit. Lim said the property developer acknowledged the complaints and appeal of Mrs. Corona by reducing her dues.

SPA for McKinley Hills property not notarized

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the presiding officer of the impeachment court, questioned the lack of notarization for the special power of attorney (SPA) provided to Justice Corona by his daughter Ma. Charina Corona for the purchase of a property at McKinley Hills in Taguig City in 2008.

Enrile noted that the document was made outside the country. Charina has been living in the United States for the past 10 years. Defense lawyer Noel Lazaro said Charina signed the document in the presence of US Consul Arvic V. Arevalo in San Francisco, California. He said no one notarized the SPA because the consul already authenticated Charinas signature.

However, Enrile said the consul cannot notarize the document, which requires the presence of a notarial officer to make it valid.

Transfer of titles for 4 QC properties

Defense lawyer Dennis Manalo presented Quezon City register of deeds Carlo Alcantara to prove that Corona had a basis for the non-inclusion of several properties in his 2010 SALN.

Alcantara presented transfer certificates of title showing that Corona and his wife, Cristina, hadsold three properties in Quezon City worth a total of P43 million to their daughter Carla and her husband Constantino.

The witness also showed documents indicating the transfer of the title of Coronas P8million property in Ayala Heights to a certain Amelia Rivera and her husband, Rodel, in March 2010.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Rouchelle Dinglasan/YA, GMA News

Day 32 Corona trial highlights: LRA denies certifying 45 properties


March 20, 2012 6:51pm Get some exercise, Enrile advises Cuevas

At the start of the day's trial, defense lawyer Joel Bodegon informed the impeachment court that lead counsel Serafin Cuevas is still absent. Earlier, defense spokesperson Jose Roy III told reporters that the 83-year-old Cuevas is suffering from vertigo and had been advised to rest for several days.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, advised Cuevas to exercise to get rid of vertigo. The 88-year old senator said he had the same problem in the past and was willing to help Cuevas.

Makati condo and Corona SALN

The defense team presented Carmina Cruz, the customer relations head of Alveo Land Corporation, to prove that impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina did not immediately accept the unit they bought in The Columns in 2003. Cruz read a letter from Mrs. Corona in 2008 mentioning the non-acceptance of the unit.

Defense lawyer Jose Roy III said the Corona couple only accepted the unit in October 2009 due to some defects on the property, which is why it was not reflected in Corona's SALN until 2010. Cruz was asked to return on Wednesday to bring documents regarding the supposed defects in the unit.

Prosecutor Winston Ginez described the testimony of Cruz as irrelevant and maintained that the condominium unit should have been declared by Corona on the year it was bought.

Enrile and senator-judge Sergio Osmea III also said the amount of the condominium unit should have appeared immediately in Coronas SALN. That P3.5 million [payment] should have still been declared," Osmea said.

Notarial register for McKinley property

The defense panel presented Perlita Ele, executive clerk of court of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, to prove that the Corona couple acted as trustees of their daughter for the McKinley property in Taguig City worth P6.19 million.

Ele showed a certified true copy of a notarial register showing a declaration of trust and special power of attorney given to the Corona couple by their daughter Maria Charina Corona, who is in the United States.

LRA chief denies certifying 45 Corona properties

Defense counsel Noel Lazaro presented Land Registration Authority (LRA) administrator Eulalio Diaz as a witness to prove the alleged motive, bias, and bad faith of the prosecution in claiming that Corona allegedly owns 45 properties. Lazaro said 17 of those properties had cancelled titles while 22 others are no longer with the Corona family or had other problems.

Diaz testified that the LRA merely conducted a general name search of Corona's family upon the request of lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. He said the agency submitted the list but did not certify that all the properties were owned by Corona.

Several senators, including Jinggoy Estrada and Pia Cayetano, scolded Diaz and the prosecution team for coming up with the list that was submitted to the impeachment court.

Senator-judge Joker Arroyo expressed dismay at what he described as the cavalier attitude of Diaz and the prosecutors regarding the issue. Quite frankly you misled the public, he told them.

Tupas asserted that the prosecution team never announced the list to the media and only attached it to their subpoena request to the Senate in good faith. He said the prosecutors had every reason to believe the authenticity of these documents.

However, Diaz said the LRA expected the prosecution to double-check the agencys computer-generated output.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 33 Corona trial highlights: Senator-judges berate LRA chief


March 22, 2012 1:12am Cuevas returns to impeachment trial

After two days of absence, defense counsel Serafin Cuevas on Wednesday returned to the impeachment trial following a bout with vertigo. At the start of the proceedings, he expressed his apologies and said he wanted to make it on record that there was nothing intentional in his absence.

Senate President and presiding judge Juan Ponce Enrile said the apology was not necessary and said he hoped Cuevas had recovered from his illness.

Evidence required on ownership of Corona properties

During the deliberations on the prosecutions contention that impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona allegedly owns 21 of the 45 properties earlier listed by the Land Registration Authority (LRA), defense counsel Noel Lazaro maintained that many of the titles have been cancelled.

However, prosecutor Winston Ginez answered in the affirmative when Enrile asked him if they maintain that Corona owns 21 properties. Ginez added that some properties placed under the names of Coronas children are actually owned by the Chief Justice.

When Enrile asked both camps to state their assertions in a memorandum, defense counsel Cuevas said these should be subject to evidence instead to prove their validity. Enrile agreed with Cuevas.

LRA chief berated for negligence

During clarificatory questioning, Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago berated LRA administrator Eulalio Diaz III for coming up with the list of Coronas supposed properties through a computerized search in the agencys database without checking its veracity. She also criticized Diaz for not asking the prosecution its purpose for requesting the list.

Diaz replied that the LRA does not do investigative work and normally uses the transfer certificate of title as a guide in database searches. He maintained that it was not his fault if the list is inaccurate.

Santiago accused Diaz of violating the Civil Code for coming up with the list, said both the LRA chief and the prosecution team may be guilty of gross negligence for their actions.

Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada asked Diaz if he was in cahoots with the prosecution in making it appear that Corona has 45 properties, or if he simply made a mistake. In response, Diaz said, I won't accept that I'm in cahoots with prosecution. I also can't readily accept I made a mistake. Estrada chided Diaz for making the mistake of including titles that were either canceled or registered in someone elses name. He advised the LRA chief to rectify his mistake to the media, which reported the LRA list on Coronas alleged 45 properties after a Jan. 12 press conference of the prosecution team.

Flip-flopping of LRA chief baffles senator-judges

When Senator-judge Ferdinand Marcos Jr. asked Diaz on why he accessed the LRA's system to search for Corona's properties even though there were rules governing its use, the LRA chief said that he was merely acting on the request of the prosecution team, knowing that the information would be used for the impeachment trial.

However, Senator-judge Loren Legarda reminded Diaz that he had earlier told Senator Santiago that he did not know the list would be used for the impeachment. Both Legarda and Marcos expressed confusion regarding the contradictory statements of Diaz.

Diaz replied that he knew the list would be used for the impeachment trial. The LRA chief was questioned once more when he initially said it took him two to three days to prepare the list, but said later that he already had a prepared document when the prosecution asked for it. Enrile chided Diaz for his confusing statements.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan and Mark Meruenas/YA, GMA News

Day 34 Corona trial highlights: Atienza testimony on Basa-Guidote lot


March 22, 2012 11:49pm Mrs. Corona received more than P6 million from JHMC

A defense witness testified that Mrs. Cristina Corona, the wife of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, received more than P6 million when she was appointed to the state-owned John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The information was contained in a document brought by JHMC finance manager Miriam Mosuella and read by defense counsel Jose Roy. Mosuella said Mrs. Corona served as president, chief operating officer, chief executive officer, and president of JHMC from 2007 to 2010.

Ex-mayor Lito Atienza testifies on Basa-Guidote lot

Taking the stand as defense witness, former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza told the impeachment court that in 2001, the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. authorized Mrs. Corona to sell one of their properties to the Manila City government for P34 million.

He said the lot was chosen as the site for a new public market, after the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) informed the Manila city government in 1999 that they would be expropriating the land where the old Sampaloc Market was located.

Atienza, who served as Manila mayor from 1998 to 2007, said the city government sealed the deal with Mrs. Corona after she showed a board certification allowing her to negotiate on behalf of the Basa-Guidote Enterprises.

He said the 1,020-square meter property was sold to the Manila City government in 2001 for P34.7 million and paid with a check addressed to Mrs. Corona "in trust for" the Basa-Guidote Enterprises.

During cross-examination, private prosecutor Renato Samonte questioned the deal between the City of Manila and Mrs. Corona, saying the local government should have asked her for a recent authorization to conduct the transaction.

Senator-judge Franklin Drilon also said Atienza was not thorough enough in conducting due diligence on the Basa-Guidote firm and in handling the funds of Manila taxpayers. Atienza replied that it did not occur to him to ask for a copy of the board resolution authorizing Mrs. Corona to transact business on behalf of the family firm, relying instead on the certification.

In response to questions from Samonte and Drilon on why the check was given to Mrs. Corona, Atienza said both her name and that of the Basa-Guidote Enterprises were indicated on the check as an "added security feature" to make sure the money would go to the proper recipients.

Senators says Atienza testimony relevant to Article II

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and three other senator-judges said the testimony of Atienza is directly relevant to Article II of the impeachment complaint that accuses Corona of betraying public trust by failing to properly disclose the contents of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth.

During an exchange with lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas, Senator Ralph Recto said the proceeds from the sale of the lot on which the New Sampaloc Public Market now stands may be the same P34.7 million deposited in peso accounts in the name of the Chief Justice in the Katipunan Avenue branch of PSBankand later withdrawn on the day Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives.

Enrile agreed with Recto, saying the testimony on the real properties and other assets of Corona are at the heart of the problem. However, Cuevas objected to Recto's statements, saying the defense has yet to present its evidence on the PSBank accounts. Meanwhile, Senator-judges Joker Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson wanted to know what became of the P34.7 million after Mrs. Corona received the check from the City of Manila. They asked both the prosecution and the defense teams about their respective positions on the ownership of the proceeds from the sale of the lot, which is being contested by Mrs. Coronas relatives.

The trial will take a break beginning March 23 and will resume on May 7.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan and Rouchelle Dinglasan/YA, GMA News

Day 35 Corona trial highlights: Defense told to let Chief Justice testify
May 7, 2012 8:49pm
Senate wants to finish impeachment trial before adjournment on June 7

Before the resumption of the hearings Monday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the trial should not go beyond May 31. However, he added that the Senate has yet to decide on the proposal to extend the trial until 10 p.m. although the members are amenable to the suggestion as long as the stamina of both panels are able to sustain it.

Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago said that under the Rules of Court and current jurisprudence, the Senate has the power and authority to order the parties to finish the trial on or before June 7, when the Senate session adjourns. She noted that the impeachment trial of former United States President Bill Clinton took less than two months.

DOJ Secretary De Lima's request to be excluded as defense witness denied

The Senate denied DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima's motion to be excluded as witness for the defense. In a letter dated March 22, De Lima had requested the Senate to allow her not to appear before the impeachment court anymore because she had already been crossexamined by the defense team.

In denying the request, Enrile said De Lima's appearance as witness for the prosecution was not at the behest of the defense, and that Corona is entitled to compulsory process to set up his defense. He ordered the defense to confer with De Lima as to the date and time of her appearance in court.

Prosecution lawyer Neri Colmenares sought to clarify the denial of De Lima's motion, saying the defense misled them. Enrile told the prosecution team to submit a motion for reconsideration.

Cross-examination of former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza regarding BGEI property

The prosecution attempted to show infirmities in the certified true copy of the cheque which the Manila City Government issued to BGEI Enterprises, the company owned by the family of Corona's wife. The cheque was issued in the name of Cristina Corona, with the appendage "in trust for" BGEI. Only one cheque was issued, and there was a disbursement voucher which also had the appendage "in trust for."

The prosecution presented two versions of the certified true copy of the cheque. Atienza said that he was not involved in the preparation of the cheque and thus could not attest to the details in it. He said it was the city treasurer who prepared the check, and the allegation that he is corrupt is unfair.

Defensor-Santiago said that the prosecution should have presented someone from the Commission on Audit to testify on the authenticity of the certified true copy of the cheque. She said Atienza was not the proper witness to ask about the cheque.

In reply to defense counsel Eduardo de los Angeles, Atienza said he did not receive the notice of suspension issued by the Office of the City Auditor of Manila regarding the purchase of the property. The city auditor had disallowed the payment of P34.7 million to BGEI, citing non-compliance and non-submission of certain requirements. Atienza said he only heard about the suspension at the trial.

Atienza said that from the start, the city government dealt with Cristina Corona regarding the purchase of the property, and that CJ Corona was with his wife during the BGEI transactions.

Taking the floor, Senator Defensor-Santiago said the findings of the Commission on Audit on the irregularies in the sale of the Basa-Guidote property in 2001 was irrelevant to the impeachment trial, since they are not related to allegations that Corona concealed certain information in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth. She said these pieces of evidence should instead be submitted to the Solicitor-General.

Testimony on the Bonifacio Ridge condo unit

The condo unit was already fully paid in 2005, but there was a delay in the delivery as it had to undergo repairs for water leaks, said defense witness Noel Kintanar, Head of Commercial Operations of the Bonifacio Development Corporation. Kintanar attributed the prolonged renovation and delay to typhoons that hit the country during that time.

There was, however, a conditional turnover of the condo unit in 2006, as evidenced by a letter that Cristina Corona wrote on January 2, 2006.

According to the Deed of Absolute Sale, the condo unit was worth P9,159,940. Kintanar said Bonifacio Development Corp. shouldered the association dues of the unit while it was undergoing renovations.

The condo unit was only declared in Corona's December 31, 2010 SALN. Asked why the condo unit was not declared under accounts receivable earlier, the defense said there was no accountant who assisted Corona during that time.

Enrile speeds up hearing

Enrile dispensed with the testimonies of the records officer and the market administrator of the Manila City Government, saying these were immaterial in the impeachment trial and were a waste of time.

The presiding officer said he was dismayed by the witnesses presented by the defense team for the day, as they were only involved with the collection of fees and had nothing to do with the impeachment.

Jinggoy Estrada tells defense to bring Corona to the witness stand

Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada said that instead of cluttering the court with so many witnesses and wasting the time of the judges, Corona should be brought to the witness stand to answer the allegations against him if he was not hiding anything.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas replied that Corona is entitled to due process, and that as Chief Justice, he should be respected. He said that the defense should not be bulldozed into presenting Corona just because the prosecution wanted him to appear.

Cuevas said the defense only had five more witnesses to present at the trial.

- Aileen Estoquia/YA, GMA News

Day 36 Corona trial highlights: Defense says CJ will testify in impeachment trial
May 8, 2012 8:40pm Angara decries defense move to seek his inhibition in trial

At the start of the day's trial on Tuesday, Senator Edgardo Angara stood up to debunk the defense camps claim that he would not be impartial in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona because his son, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, is a spokesperson of the House prosecution team.

Angara said he had nothing to do with the designation of his son as spokesperson. He described as illogical the defense camps motion seeking his inhibition as senatorjudge, saying the Senate and House of Representatives have different roles in the trial.

He also took exception to the malicious insinuation of Coronas lawyers that his vote has been bought due to the Aquino governments approval of the P1.66-billion BalerCasiguran Road Improvement Project in his home province, Aurora. Angara said the project started during the past administration and is fully funded by the South Korean government.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas defended the filing of the motion for Angaras inhibition, saying it was merely meant to convey the feeling of the Chief Justice that the senator will not be able to give cold neutrality as a judge.

Victory in libel cases gave Mrs. Corona an edge over relatives

Defense lawyer Jose Roy III presented Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 clerk of court Lucita Masangkay-Cristi to testify that Coronas wife, Mrs. Cristina Corona, won in the two libel cases she filed against her uncle Jose Maria Basa and other relatives in 2001.

Cristi said the court awarded Mrs. Corona P500,000 in damages from the defendants. Roy said the defendants appealed the decision during the same year but still lost. The victory paved the way for Mrs. Corona to gain control over the controversial BasaGuidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) owned by her family.

However, private prosecutor Cynthia Corazon Roxas questioned the issuance of the writ of execution on April 28, 2003, saying Jose Maria Basa died on Aug. 29, 2002 and the parties involved knew about it. The issue went unresolved, as the witness was deemed incapable of testifying on the matter further.

Corona daughter bought nearly all BGEI stocks for P28,000

Sheriff Joseph Bisnar of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 testified that he implemented the writ of execution in April 2003 to collect P500,000 in damages awarded by the court to Cristina when she won the libel cases against her relatives.

Bisnar said he posted on the bulletin board a notice of public auction of BGEI and conducted the bidding on September 30, 2003. The chief magistrate's daughter Carina was the lone bidder, and she bought the 4,839 shares of Jose and Raymunda Basa equivalent to 90.87 percent of BGEI for P28,000, the sheriff said.

Bisnar said he was not aware that Jose Basa III had died eight months before he implemented the writ of execution. He also said he was not aware that Carla was related to Corona, who was an Associate Justice at the time.

Defense says Corona will testify in trial

Before the trial adjourned for the day, defense lawyer Jose Roy III said Corona will testify in his trialprovided that 10 hostile witnesses, including Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, are presented in relation to the chief magistrates alleged $10-million deposits. Roy said Corona wants to respond to the allegations against him under oath.

Responding to a query from Senator Panfilo Lacson on whether Corona would be willing to sign a waiver allowing the court to look into his dollar accounts, Roy said there is a strong possibility that he will disclose everything.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, one of the senators who had urged the defense team to present Corona, assured the defense team that their client will be treated respectfully when he takes the witness stand.

Enrile immediately granted the request of the defense to subpoena the potential witnesses. He also allowed the defense to have a 48-hour continuance so they can prepare for the testimonies on Coronas alleged dollar accounts. The impeachment trial will resume next Monday.

- With reports from Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 37 Corona trial highlights:Ombudsman takes witness stand


BY AILEEN ESTOQUIA, GMA NEWS May 14, 2012 9:24pm Defense questions stance of Carpio-Morales

At the resumption of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales requested that she be allowed to testify before the other witnesses, citing her heavy workload that needs urgent attention.

Defense lawyer Serafin Cuevas emphasized that Carpio-Morales was the lone dissenter in the De Castro case that allowed ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to appoint Corona as Chief Justice in May 2010.

Cuevas said Carpio-Morales held an adversarial relationship with Corona, based on the investigation that her office was conducting against him. But Carpio-Morales countered that it was within her mandate to investigate the allegations against Corona.

Complaints vs. Corona at the Ombudsman

When asked why she decided to investigate Corona, the Ombudsman said she received complaints from Akbayan's Risa Hontiveros and Walden Bello, Kaya Natin convenor Harvey Keh, and Emmanuel Santos.

She forwarded the complaints to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), sought its assistance in verifying the charges, and asked for pertinent documents. After receiving the AMLC's response, Carpio-Morales created a panel of investigators, who recommended that the Ombudsman write a letter to Corona. Thus, she sent a request to Corona last April 20 asking him to explain his undeclared $10-M funds in various bank accounts in writing within 72 hours.

$10-M in 82 accounts

Carpio-Morales said the amount of $10 million was not mentioned in the complaints, but was derived from a 17-page report submitted by the AMLC.

According to the report, Corona had more than $10 million in 82 dollar accounts in five banks, the Ombudsman said. Corona was also reported to have $12 million in fresh deposits, and had 705 bank transactions from 2003 to 2011. According to Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the AMLC receives reports from banking institutions on funds worth more than P500,000 to guard against financial fraud. The Council is composed of the Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as chairman, and the Commissioner of the Insurance Commission and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission as members.

Ombudsman invokes right to probe public officials

Carpio-Morales said her office was merely conducting a case build-up or a factfinding investigation and not a preliminary investigation, thus there was no determination of probable cause. They have no findings yet, but they were able to obtain data that were material and relevant to Corona's case.

Cuevas argued that requiring Corona to file an answer was a violation of his right against self-crimination, as provided in the Bill of Rights. Carpio-Morales invoked her duty as Ombudsman to investigate public officials, and cited Section 26 of the Ombudsman Act as well as the powers granted to her by the Constitution.

Source of $10-M report


When Cuevas asked why Carpio-Morales did not mention that the AMLC was the source of the report on the purported $10-M funds, she said it was not necessary. Cuevas said Corona should have been informed about the source of the information so he could properly defend himself. Carpio-Morales said Corona should have filed a motion for a bill of particulars or asked for more details in response to the letter-request from the Ombudsman. When Cuevas started arguing that the $10-M in bank deposits was not in the impeachment complaint, prosecution lawyer Mario Bautista reminded him that the defense at the May 8 trial had agreed that they would face this allegation squarely.

COA assisted in analyzing AMLC report

During the cross-examination, Carpio-Morales explained that she arrived at the $10-M figure with the help of Certified Public Accountants from the Commission on Audit, who computed the funds in all the accounts. She said they encountered difficulties because there were several transfers, and they eventually came up with $10 million as the transactional balance.

The senator-judges asked for an analysis of the 17-page AMLC report, which they said was confusing because of the numbers. A discussion ensued on whether the Ombudsman should make a PowerPoint presentation that contained the analysis and summary of the accounts.

The defense tried to block the presentation, but Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago stood up and argued that the the primary rule in evidence is the rule of relevancy. She said there was no categorical prohibition in the Rules on Evidence on PowerPoint presentations.

Santiago added that the analysis would reduce the number of hours the senator-judges would require to go over the items. She suggested that the court put the question to a vote, and when it was called, all the senator-judges voted in favor of the presentation.

Multiple dollar accounts in five banks

Carpio-Morales presented the slides, which contained an analysis of the findings of the AMLC. Her first significant observation was that there were multiple accounts created for similar purposes.

She said Corona had only one dollar account in 2003. The figure went up to 11 accounts in 2004 and 23 in 2005. The Ombudsman said Corona kept opening new accounts until he had 82 by December 2011.

The Ombudsman noted that there were multiple accounts spread over five banks in various branches such as the Bank of the Philippine Islands Acropolis, Tandang Sora, and San Francisco del Monte branches. The other banks were PSBank, Citibank, Allied Bank, and Deutsche Bank.

She also observed that there were circuitous movements of accounts in four primary accounts, including a mother account. There were also deposits and withdrawals made on the same day.

'Significant withdrawals'

Carpio-Morales noted that there were significant withdrawals on significant dates, particularly in 2004 and 2007, which were election years. During the week Corona was impeached, the Ombudsman said $418,193.32 in a time deposit account was withdrawn, and that $417,978.80 was transferred to a regular trust fund.

$30-M outflows from accounts


COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, who helped prepare the report, continued the presentation after Carpio-Morales got exhausted. Mendoza explained that there was $28 million in total inflow consisting of deposits and credit memos. The records also indicated a total outflow of $30 million that included withdrawals, outward remittances, debit memos, and purchases.

She also said Corona held a total of P242 million in several peso accounts. The defense opposed Mendoza's testimony because it was not covered by their direct examination. The Senate excused Mendoza and requested the Ombudsman to continue her testimony on Tuesday.

- YA, GMA News

Day 38 Corona trial highlights:Ombudsman asserts independence


May 15, 2012 8:37pm Miriam wants to summon bank managers

At the resumption of the trial on Tuesday, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked the impeachment court to summon the managers of nine banks where impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona allegedly maintains dollar deposits.

Santiago said it is the duty of bank managers to sound the alarm if a client has several dollar accounts, adding that even people engaged in dollar trading normally maintain only two to three bank accounts.

On Monday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales had presented records showing that Corona allegedly has 82 dollar accounts at the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) branches in Acropolis, Tandang Sora, San Francisco del Monte, and the BPI Management Investment Corporation; Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) in Cainta and Katipunan; Allied Banking Corporation (ABC) Kamias; Deutsche Bank; and Citibank.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who presides over the trial, said the impeachment tribunal will tackle Santiagos motion in a caucus on Monday, May 21.

Testimony of COAs Heidi Mendoza removed from records

Senator Aquilino Koko Pimentel III moved to strike out remarks made on Monday by the Commission on Audits Heidi Mendoza, who took the place of Morales on the witness stand when the Ombudsman got tired while presenting a slide show on Coronas dollar accounts.

Mendoza, who had assisted Morales in interpreting Coronas bank records, had informed the impeachment court that the chief magistrate posted more than $28 million in deposits in his dollar accounts and P242 million in his peso accounts.

Pimentel agreed with the defense panel that Mendozas remarks should be removed from the records of the trial because the COA official was irregularly presented as a witness.

The Senate unanimously approved Pimentels motion.

Ombudsman says $3-M in Corona accounts moved last December

Continuing her testimony, Ombudsman Morales told the impeachment court that more than $3 million was moved from Corona's alleged dollar accounts in BPI, PSBank, and Allied Bank the week he was impeached in December 2011.

She reiterated her earlier observation that there were significant withdrawals on significant events. specifically the 2004 and 2007 elections and the time the chief magistrate was impeached.

On May 12 and May 14, 2004, around the time of the presidential elections, there were two separate deposits of $500,000 made to Corona's alleged account at BPI Acropolis. On May 3, 2007, just before the local and congressional elections, there were five separate deposits in Coronas dollar account with BPI San Francisco del Monte totaling $293,645.23.

Ombudsman may file charges vs. Corona if he is acquitted

In response to a query from Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago regarding the Ombudsmans investigation of the dollar accounts, Morales said her office will not hesitate to file charges against Corona if warranted in the event he is acquitted in the impeachment trial.

Morales explained that she does not see any reason why another set of charges cannot be filed if the charges that are currently being investigated by the Ombudsman are not included in the impeachment charges.

Santiago warned the defense panel to take note of the Ombudsmans statement, saying they can expect another complaint in accordance with the law in case their client is acquitted in the trial.

Morales says she will not be used for personal vendetta

After several senator-judges expressed fears that Morales might use her broad powers to go after the enemies of President Benigno Aquino III, who appointed her as Ombudsman in July 2011, she assured the impeachment court that she will not be used for personal vendetta.

I will not jeopardize my 40 years in government servicespotless, I will be modest to say thatjust to be a tool for anyone to get back at certain persons, she said. Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada had expressed concerns that the Office of the Ombudsman may be used against those who are critical of the Aquino administration. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano urged the Ombudsman to maintain balance in using her power to investigate the assets of government officials. Senator Gregorio Honasan quizzed Morales if her office had singled out Corona. He also asked the Ombudsman how many times her office had requested assistance from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in checking bank transactions.

Morales said Coronas case was the first time she asked for the AMLCs help since she assumed her post as an Ombudsman less than a year ago. However, Morales asserted that she is ready to probe even incumbent officials of the Aquino administration if warranted.

For as long as there are leads that these charges are meritorious, then we will do it, said Morales, who is also a retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

- Reported by Andreo Calonzo, Kimberly Jane Tan, and Mark Merueas/YA, GMA News

Day 39 Corona trial highlights: Senators scold Harvey Keh


May 16, 2012 8:46pm Hontiveros-Baraquel: Complaint seeks accountability from Corona

Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel was the first to take the witness stand on Wednesday during the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, to testify regarding the complaint she filed against the magistrate at the Ombudsman.

She said her group was merely doing their duty as citizens in requesting the Ombudsman to investigate Coronas alleged dollar accounts for the sake of accountability.

In response to a query from Senator Panfilo Lacson, she said her group filed the complaint on its own and did not receive any instruction from anybody to do so. Hontiveros-Baraquel clarified that she never mentioned the amount of $10 million in their letter-complaint, only various peso and dollar accounts. She said the basis for the complaint was the evidence presented during the impeachment trial, which her group downloaded from several websites.

Harvey Keh scolded for submitting unverified documents

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked civil society leader Harvey Keh, Kaya Natin! Movement lead convener, to "show cause" why he should not be cited for contempt for bringing purported bank documents of Corona to Enrile's office in early May.

Defense lawyer Dennis Manalo had presented Keh as a hostile witness to prove his alleged involvement in a well-planned and orchestrated effort to destroy the reputation of Corona.

Enrile said he felt insulted and offended as a presiding officer with Kehs actions, which he interpreted as an attempt to influence the impeachment court. The Senate President also questioned the presence of a television crew when Keh delivered the documents.

In response, Keh told the impeachment court that he anonymously received several purported bank documents of Corona in his office last May 3. He said he delivered the documents to Enriles office because he felt the Senate was the proper government agency to examine these documents, as these may be useful in the impeachment trial.

Keh denied inviting reporters to cover his visit to Enriles office, saying he was surprised to find media people waiting for his arrival. He apologized to the impeachment court for bringing unauthenticated documents to the Senate Presidents office.

Other senators took turns scolding Keh for bringing unverified documents to the Senate, including Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who warned Keh that he was "in jeopardy of being charged criminally" for trying to influence the senators.

Santiago criticized Keh for filing a complaint against Corona based on an anonymous document. She said that as the convener of a group that promotes good governance, Keh should have examined the documents to see whether this is fair or not."

Meanwhile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada asked Keh if he had called up media people to inform them about the unverified documents. Keh said he could no longer remember the names of the journalists he had talked to, except for Malaya publisher Jake Macasaet and Tina Dumlao of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Estrada accused Keh of seeking publicity and called the witness "sinungaling.

Corona to testify on May 22


Enrile and the defense panel reached an agreement that Corona will take the stand on Tuesday, May 22, as the last defense witness to be presented in the impeachment case. Initially, the presiding officer had directed the defense to present Corona on Monday, May 21, but defense lawyer Jose Roy III pleaded for more time due to the voluminous documents they had to review.

Enrile granted the request of the defense team "so that you would not think we are biased against [Corona] but emphasized that no more postponement would be granted. Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. said they would wait for the testimony of Corona before deciding whether they will present rebuttal evidence after the defense concludes their case.

Closing statements

Enrile said both camps would be allowed to present two speakers for the closing arguments, and each of them will be given 30 minutes to speak. Senator Francis Pangilinan suggested that the Senate conduct the trial until Friday instead of Mondays to Thursdays from 2 p.m. until 5 or 6 p.m. He pointed out that the court is losing two trial days before Coronas testimony, and only two weeks are left in May.

Enrile said they will take up the matter in caucus, but stressed that the upper chamber "cannot go beyond this month in concluding the trial. He said the Senate still has to work on several legislative matters before the Philippine Congress goes on a break on June 8.

- Reported by Kimberly Jane Tan, Andreo Calonzo, and Mark Merueas/Edited by Yasmin Arquiza, GMA News

Day 40 Corona trial highlights: Chief Justice takes the stand


BY AILEEN ESTOQUIA, GMA NEWS May 22, 2012 9:15pm Senate decides not to subpoena banks

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile denied Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago's request last May 15 to subpoena the managers of the nine banking facilities where Corona was purported to have 82 dollar accounts.

Enrile reminded senators that they were not at a hearing in aid of legislation, but at an impeachment trial.

Senate accepts Harvey Keh's apology

The Senate accepted the written apology of Kaya Natin! Movement lead convenor Harvey Keh, who was ordered in the last hearing to explain why he should not be held in contempt for bringing unverified bank documents to Enrile in early May.

Senate sets ground rules for Corona testimony


Enrile reminded the senators of the two-minute rule and to stick to questions of fact in their clarificatory questioning, as prescribed in the Senate rules. Enrile assured the defense that Corona would be treated with respect. Cuevas spoke about Corona's right against self-incrimination, and said that it was never the intention of Corona not to appear in the impeachment court. He reminded the court about political neutrality, and said Corona should only be cross-examined on matters taken up in the direct examination.

Enrile said that they were aware of the defense teams concerns and would render their duties in an impartial manner. Prosecution lawyer Mario Bautista said there was never any compulsion for Corona to testify, and added that the court once denied their request to subpoena Corona.

Corona gives lengthy opening statement

Reading from a prepared statement for almost three hours, Corona professed his innocence and claimed that Aquino was using administration resources to get back at him because of the Hacienda Luisita decision of the high court.

He said he did not resign because that would mean he was giving up, and he wanted to fight because he had a clean conscience. Private prosecutor Mario Bautista objected to Coronas speech, saying the magistrate was taking advantage of the platform to speak without the benefit of direct examination. Bautista said the issues Corona mentioned were irrelevant, and that he was mentioning people who were not there to defend themselves, including those who were already dead.

Corona pleaded with the court to allow him to continue, saying it was his only chance to speak to the public. Enrile interrupted Corona four times, telling him at one point that good character was not admissible in court, but allowed him to go on because the opening statement was part of his testimony.

Corona became emotional a couple of times while reading his statement, choking back tears as he spoke of how the past five months had been hard for his family.

Origin of Corona assets explained

Corona said all his property and assets came from decades of hard work and savings. He said he had a lucrative private legal practice before he joined the government, and that his family invested in foreign exchange.

He added that his family lived simply for 40 years, did not buy expensive properties, and did not even have a housemaid or air-conditioning in their house. Corona narrated the infighting and pending cases within the Basa clan of his wife to explain how his daughter Carla Corona-Castillo was able to gain majority of the BGEI shares for only P28,000.

He said he was not involved in the transactions because his wife had her own lawyer. He said they also lowered the bid price of the shares to allow the Basa clan to buy the shares back after one year, but they did not.

Corona makes his own PowerPoint presentation


In response to the Ombudsmans testimony last week, Corona denied having 82 dollar accounts and $10M to $12M in funds. With his own PowerPoint presentation, Corona showed that many of the accounts had been closed, particularly those in BPI Acropolis and BPI Tandang Sora. Corona said he only had four dollar accounts and three peso accounts as of December 2011, and that the AMLC report came from a polluted source

Dollar and peso accounts not included in SALN


Corona said he did not declare the dollar accounts in his SALN because of the bank secrecy law. Similarly, he did not include his peso accounts in his SALN because these contained commingled funds from BGEI and from his sick mother. Enrile reminded Corona that his case was not for ill-gotten wealth, but for non-disclosure of assets in his SALN. However, he said Corona's opening statement may be used by the prosecution in their cross-examination.

Corona maintained that not every omission or inaccuracy in the SALN is an impeachable offense or a high crime.

Corona signs waiver for disclosure of properties


Even as he said that he had no obligation to do so, Corona signed in front of the impeachment court a waiver on the bank secrecy of his dollar deposits. He also authorized the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Land Registration Authority to disclose to the public all information on his assets, liabilities, business interests, and finances, as well as those of his spouse Cristina.

Corona further authorized the Supreme Court to immediately release to the public his SALN from 2002 to 2011. After signing, however, he challenged Senator Drilon and the 188 representatives who signed the impeachment complaint to do the same.

Corona said he would not release his waiver if they don't sign a waiver as well, adding, "We are all on trial here."

Corona walkout surprises everyone, including defense lawyers


After making his opening statement, Corona asked to be excused, stood up, and left the session hall even though he was not yet discharged. Outraged at what he said was disrespect of the authority of the impeachment court, Enrile ordered the defense lawyers to bring Corona back to the hall. Enrile also ordered a lockdown of the Senate. The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms had to stop Corona from leaving the Senate premises. Defense lawyers said Corona, who is diabetic, had skipped lunch and was suffering from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Corona was brought to the clinic after he complained of dizziness.

After Corona was brought back to the hall in a wheelchair, he remained quiet while Cuevas informed the court that there was no intention to violate the rules of the impeachment court.

Enrile told Cuevas that the chief justice is aware of court regulations and should have asked to be properly excused. The presiding officer ordered Corona to continue with his testimony on Wednesday, otherwise all his statements would be stricken off the record and they would proceed with the resolution of the case.

- YA, GMA News

Day 42 Corona trial highlights: Chief Justice apologizes to Senate


BY AILEEN ESTOQUIA, GMA NEWS May 25, 2012 9:16pm Corona apologizes to the impeachment court

Chief Justice Renato Corona returned to the Senate on Friday to continue his testimony after signing a hospital waiver clearing his doctors at the Medical City, where he had been confined since Tuesday night for a heart ailment and other medical conditions, should anything happen to him.

At the start of the session, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile asked Corona if he was physically ready to participate in the trial. Corona replied that he was still feeling weak, but added that he wanted to obey the order of the court to return and would strive to continue his testimony.

Corona apologized to the impeachment court for leaving the witness stand abruptly last Tuesday, and denied reports that he had walked out of the trial. He attributed his sudden departure to his diabetes and lack of sleep the previous night. Corona said he did not take his lunch prior to his appearance on the witness stand, and that he felt his blood sugar going down while he was reading his opening statement, which lasted almost three hours.

No more direct and cross-examination


Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas informed the court that the defense team was no longer conducting a direct examination to avoid stressing out Corona. Private prosecutor Mario Bautista said the prosecution would also forego a crossexamination, as they believe that Corona's testimony last Tuesday was inadmissible. They also considered the fragile condition of Corona and wished him a speedy recovery.

Corona submits unconditional waiver on his assets and SALNs

In a reversal of his challenge to 189 legislators last Tuesday, Corona submitted his written waiver on the confidentiality of his deposits and properties, as well as the release of his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), without any conditions.

When Enrile asked him who could verify his testimony regarding his assets, Corona suggested his bank managers. The senators held a caucus to decide on what to do with the waiver. After the break, Enrile announced that the court would take note of the waiver but would not act on it. Enrile added that the court would not subpoena any more witnesses, as both camps had indicated that they were ready to present the case for resolution. He also emphasized that the impeachment court was not a producer of evidence, but only a hearer of facts.

Corona and Basa families reunite on live television

During the recess, Cristina Corona and daughter Carla approached the cousins of Mrs. Corona on the Basa side. The clan has had bitter court battles for 30 years over the Basa-Guidote assets, and both sides had exchanged harsh words during the course of the trial. The Basas and the Coronas were seen hugging and crying on live television.

Later, the Basa cousins approached Corona at the witness stand and hugged him. GMA News TV reported later that Baby Nebrida, a mutual friend of Mrs. Corona and one of her Basa cousins, initiated the reconciliation.

Senators interrogate Corona

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked Corona's opinion regarding the implications of the trial on the system of checks and balances in government, the independence of the judiciary, and the sub judice principle.

At first, Corona recounted the hardships his family had to go through because of the impeachment trial, but Defensor-Santiago cut him off and said he was being unresponsive.

Corona then responded that the case has had a chilling effect on the Supreme Court.

Corona has $2.4 million in his dollar accounts

In response to a question from Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Corona admitted that he has $2.4 million in four dollar accounts: one with the Bank of the Philippine Islands, one with Allied Banking Corp., and two with the Philippine Savings Bank.

He emphasized that the funds were accumulated over a period of more than 30 years, including interest earned. Corona said his family started collecting dollars in 1972, before the Foreign Currency Deposit Act was enacted in 1974.

However, Senator Franklin Drilon read out the Corona assets that were not in his SALN, and pointed out that one dollar account was opened in 1974.

Corona has P80 million in his peso accounts


Corona also testified that he has around P80 million in his peso accounts, but stressed that these include funds from BGEI, his three children, and his mother. He revealed that the BGEI funds earned approximately P10 million over the years.

Corona says Carpio-Morales was used by Malacaang


Senator Jinggoy Estrada asked Corona if he ever had $12 million in foreign currency deposits. Corona replied that he never had such an amount at any time. When Estrada asked him about the report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) detailing some of his transactions, Corona said he believes that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who presented the report at the Senate, allowed herself to be used by Malacaang against him.

Corona admitted that he did not see eye to eye with Morales when she was still an Associate Justice at the Supreme Court, but that they were civil to each other. He added that Carpio-Morales demanded double the regular retirement benefit, usually amounting up to P600,000, before leaving the Supreme Court last year. Corona said he was wondering why the AMLC report came out in a newspaper when the letter that he received was marked strictly confidential.

Corona insists bank secrecy law applies to SALN

In response to a question from Senator Drilon, Corona reiterated that he did not report his dollar deposits in his SALN because he believes these are covered by the

confidentiality clause in the Foreign Currency Deposits Act. He also did not report his peso accounts that contained commingled funds.

Senator Francis Pangilinan reminded Corona of the provision in the 1987 Constitution that requires all public officials to report under oath all their assets in their SALN. Pangilinan then asked Corona which of the two prevails: the Constitution or the bank secrecy law.

Corona replied that the provision in the Constitution was qualified by the phrase "as may be provided by law," and that the law that exempts him from declaring his dollar accounts is the Foreign Currency Deposits Act. Pangilinan replied that the law was enacted in 1974 while the Constitution took effect in 1987.

When Pangilinan asked why Corona withdrew his funds on the week he was impeached, Corona said he received reports from allies in Malacaang that his bank deposits would be frozen and he wanted to protect the money he had earned over many years. Corona also said that he had lost faith in the bank manager of PSBank.

Prosecution and defense submit case for resolution


Both camps submitted a formal offer of evidence, which were accepted by the impeachment court. Enrile told the court that the case has been submitted for resolution, subject to oral arguments between the parties on Monday, May 28.

- YA, GMA News

Day 43 Corona trial highlights: Closing arguments from defense and prosecution
May 28, 2012 8:36pm (Updated 2:05 p.m. Tuesday) On Monday, the prosecution and defense panels presented their closing arguments in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. The following are excerpts from their statements. PROSECUTION Rep. Niel Tupas, Lead Prosecutor On the SALN - To be meaningful and effective, the SALN requirement in Article XI, Sec. 17 of the Constitution and RA 6426 must be complied with truthfully, completely, and accurately. Corona's SALNs from 2002 to 2010 repeatedly failed to truthfully and accurately disclose numerous assets and real properties. - Corona admitted that he owns three peso accounts with P80.7 million and four dollar accounts with $2.4 million, but none of these are declared in his SALN. On unexplained wealth - Corona did not present any documentary proof to support his claims that he started collecting dollars in the 1960s and that his three peso accounts contain commingled funds from family members. - There is a legal presumption that whoever possesses the rights of ownership over a thing is presumed to be its owner. - A legal presumption of unexplained wealth arises when a public official acquires an amount of property or cash during his incumbency that is manifestly out of proportion to his salary and to his other lawful income, as Corona himself wrote in the case of Republic versus Sandiganbayan. On the secrecy of foreign currency deposits

- The SALN requirement implements the constitutional provision on public accountability. - The secrecy of foreign currency deposits is addressed to the banks, not to the depositors. It penalizes bank employees who disclose details about foreign currency deposits, but allows the depositors to waive the protection. - To adopt Corona's interpretation of the law would be to encourage dishonesty in government and would lead to the absurd situation where the law protects ill-acquired wealth hidden in foreign currency accounts. On non-disclosure as impeachable offense - Coronas violation is culpable because it is willful and intentional, judging by the habituality and sheer magnitude of the falsities, inaccuracies and omissions in his SALNs. His lies in his SALN ran into the hundreds of millions and cannot be ignored. - In the case of Delsa Flores, an employee of the judiciary who was removed from office when she failed to declare a small sari-sari store in her SALN, the court said: Although every office in the government service is a public trust, no position exacts greater demand for moral righteousness and uprightness from an individual than in the Judiciary." Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, Deputy Lead Prosecutor On the claim of revenge - The congress would not waste time in five months to study evidence, prepare witnesses, and be criticized and reprimanded by the senators like children just to be instruments in the President's revenge regarding the issue of Hacienda Luisita. On Coronas dollar savings - It is not true that Corona started collecting dollars in the late 1960s when the dollar exchange rate was still two pesos to one dollar. In 1962, the exchange rate was three pesos to a dollar. If the Chief Justice started saving dollars when the rate was two pesos to a dollar, that would have been between the years 1948 to 1959, when he was still in fourth grade. On the FCDA vis--vis SALN Law - The Foreign Currency Deposits Act took effect on April 4, 1972 or almost 15 years before the 1987 Constitution mandated the filing of SALNs. The SALN law took effect on February 20, 1989 and provides that all other assets, such as investments, cash on hand or in

banks, stocks, bonds and the like must be disclosed. On Coronas violation as impeachable offense - Corona declared only 2% of his total cash assets and concealed 98%. - He could have converted the dollar deposits into pesos, and even peso deposits are covered by the bank secrecy law. - His claim that the peso accounts contain commingled funds should not stand. A depositor is presumed to be the owner of the accounts that are in his name, as ruled in the case of Fultron vs. Ironworks and China Banking. House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte - We want a judiciary that is independent: not only of the influence of Malacaang, or Congress, but also from personal ambition and personal greed. - It is disturbing that the judiciarys highest official, the last bastion of justice for uniform application of laws all over the land, is himself the very culprit who is bending justice and misusing the laws to hide his crime. - Mr. Corona has spoken about a "chilling effect" on the judiciary. In a sense, the framers of our Constitution did want impeachment to have a chilling effect: on those who would wish to betray the public trust, and those who would abuse the powers of their office for personal gain. DEFENSE Atty. Eduardo de los Angeles On the confidentiality clause in the FCDA - The Supreme Court in Republlic v Eugenio ruled that, bank accounts are not covered by the right to information and full disclosure, unless the bank secrecy law is repealed. In BSB Group v Go, the court also said that, in case of doubt, the confidentiality of bank deposits should be favored. - Corona should not be held liable because he believes in the confidentiality of foreign deposits. There is no liability for erroneous interpretation of the law in good faith. Just because he is the Chief Justice does not mean he should have less in law.

On non-disclosure of assets as a non-impeachable defense - Corona cannot be held liable for culpable violation of the SALN law. What he does not own he should not declare as his assets. - Violation committed unintentionally is not a ground for impeachment. Culpable violation implies deliberate intent, perhaps even a certain degree of perversity. Betrayal of public trust must be based on a serious crime. - High government officials should not be removed from office for minor breach of the law. The proper remedy is to call the attention of the public official, not to punish him or to remove him from office. On impeachment as a tool to intimidate the judiciary - The executive used its full and awesome powers to persecute the Chief Justice. The President aims to remove him to make the Supreme Court subservient to his whims. - The AMLC looked at Corona's accounts without a court order, in contravention of what is provided under the Anti-Money Laundering Law. The executive even threatened other members of the judiciary with impeachment. Atty. Dennis Manalo On Coronas large cash deposits - The prosecution should have asked this in the cross-examination. The Chief Justice presented himself and even gave a waiver on his dollar and peso deposits. It is a given that when the cross-examination is waived, the testimony of the witness is unimpeached. - We never decide cases based on doubt; we decide cases based on facts. On the allegation that Corona used his position for material gain - That is a lie. The Supreme Court is a collegial body. The Chief Justice does not decide cases on his own, but through a vote with 14 other justices. Lead Defense Lawyer Serafin Cuevas On the FCDA - It is a valid law. Even our legislators are unanimous in abiding with the dictum of confidentiality enshrined in this law. - If there are questions on this law, the remedy is not judicial, but legislation. If it is

conducive to graft and corruption, let us amend the law, let us remove all the exceptions. On the report of the Ombudsman - There was no proof that the AMLC report presented to the Ombudsman was a correct copy. The report is a mere scrap of paper and is inadmissible as evidence. - The impeachment must be treated with caution, and not haphazardly. On Coronas right to due process - The impeachment complaint was filed without due process. We find nothing in the impeachment which states that the 188 congressmen-complainants were convened at any time. It was filed in a blitzkrieg maneuver and thus must be declared null and void. Questions from Enrile After both sides had presented their closing arguments, Senate President and presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile asked Cuevas to respond to several questions about foreign currency deposits and the SALN. When Enrile asked what injury a public official risks if he declared his foreign currency deposits, Cuevas responded that the FCDAs probable intent is to lessen the possibility of kidnapping and extortion, considering the countrys crime rate. But Enrile said there is no monetary secrecy law that prohibits, or inhibits or proscribes the depositor from revealing his own deposits. What is prohibited is for third parties to reveal it. The presiding officer also quizzed Cuevas on the meaning of the term culpa, which is Latin for fault. Cuevas said he could not remember the meaning of the word. Lastly, Enrile asked Cuevas whether he considers complete SALN declaration as a command, and if disobedience to the law constitutes culpable violation of the Constitution. Cuevas argued that it depends on whether there was intent to violate the law, but Enrile told him that intent was never mentioned in the relevant provision of the charter. - Aileen Estoquia/YA, GMA News

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's vote in the Corona trial


May 29, 2012 11:18pm The vote of the Senate President HON. JUAN PONCE ENRILE On Article II of the Articles of Impeachment against Hon. Chief Justice Renato C. Corona In the entire course of this impeachment trial, I have faced many difficult challenges to my own and the Courts collective wisdom, our sense of justice and fairness, the delicate balancing act we must perform to ensure that we do not stray from the strictures of the Constitution, the law and our rules. This trial began and unfolded against the backdrop of a highly charged and emotional atmosphere, acrimonious debate in and outside the confines of this Court, and a deep political fissure which threatened the stability of our democratic institutions. But the impact of the many events that transpired since December 12 last year to this very day, taken altogether, cannot compare to the sense of heaviness that I feel at this very moment. The culmination of this national drama is at hand, and the time has come for me to render judgment on the person before whom I took my Oath of Office as a Senator of the Republic no less than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Renato C. Corona. The Respondent Chief Justice and his family understandably feel deeply hurt, pained and aggrieved. As a lawyer, I must confess that I was personally frustrated by the loose and hasty crafting and preparation that characterized the presentation of the charges contained in the Articles of Impeachment. It seemed that the case was being built up only after the charges were actually filed. The repeated recourse to this Courts compulsory processes to obtain evidence which normally should have formed the factual basis of the charges in the first

place further burdened and, at times, taxed the patience of this Court. We have witnessed with disdain the indiscriminate, deliberate and illegal machinations of some parties who have been less than forthright with this Court in presenting dubiously procured and misleading documents which were spread to the media obviously to influence this Courts and the publics opinion. The letter of the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority which contained, as an attachment, a list of 45 properties supposedly owned by the Respondent Chief Justice, was fed to the media even before we could begin the actual trial of this case. Even before the Hon. Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, was called to testify before this Court, her letter to the Chief Justice requiring him to explain in 72 hours an alleged aggregate amount of US$10M in several dollar accounts was leaked to the media right before the resumption of this trial last May 7. We have sternly cautioned against unethical and unprofessional conduct, the penchant to engage in trial by publicity, to use the media to disseminate and advance so called information or evidence, to provoke and disrespect this Court and its members, and to irresponsibly hurl disparaging insinuations and accusations. We have tried to impress upon everyone who may be similarly motivated and inclined to test our will that this Court means serious business and would not succumb to nor allow such underhanded tactics and gimmickry to deter us from our task. Prudence and justice dictate that in determining the guilt or innocence of the Chief Justice, we must try our best to confine ourselves to the pieces of testimonial and documentary evidence that have been presented to this Court, to pass upon their relevance, and to measure and weigh their value in the light of the charges before us. After all the accusations levelled against the Chief Justice - eight (8) charges in all comprising the Articles of Impeachment - the Prosecution chose to present evidence only on three Articles (Articles II, III and VII), and abruptly rested its case. I have always believed that of these three, the case for the Prosecution and the Defense will

rise or fall on Article II, which is the subject of this vote. This Court, at one point, had extensive discussions and differences of opinion, to be sure, regarding the charge contained in Paragraph 2.4 of Article II that the Chief Justice was suspected and accused of having accumulated ill-gotten wealth, acquiring assets of high values and keeping bank accounts with huge deposits. We ruled to disallow the introduction of evidence in support of Par. 2.4 which, to this day, I strongly maintain was an invalid charge, it being based on mere suspicion, on so-called reports, rather than on factual allegations. The Defense and the Chief Justice himself somehow revived this issue of the nature of his assets by introducing evidence to prove that his income and assets were legitimate, and by testimony to show how he and his wife had saved and invested these savings in foreign currency over so many decades. I wish to reiterate, for the record, that the Chief Justice does not stand accused of having amassed any ill-gotten wealth before this Impeachment Court. Paragraph 2.2 of Article II of the Articles of Impeachment accuses the Respondent Chief Justice of failing to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth as required by the Constitution. I submit that the Chief Justice had justifiable and legal grounds to rely on the Supreme Courts procedural and policy guidelines governing such disclosures as embodied in a Resolution promulgated way back in 1989 when the Respondent was not yet a Member of the Supreme Court. Under the said guidelines, the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court, who is the repository of the SALNs submitted by all the Members of the Supreme Court, may furnish copies of the SALNs in his or her custody to any person upon request, and upon showing that there is a legitimate reason for the same. The Constitution, in Article XI, Sec. 17, states that in the case of the President, the VicePresident, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other

constitutional offices, and offices of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law. R.A. 6713, known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, recognizes the publics right to information on the assets, liabilities, net worth, financial and business interests of public servants. But it likewise declares it unlawful for any person to obtain or use the same for purposes contrary to morals or public policy or for any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public. Whether the said guidelines violate the letter and spirit of R.A. 6713 and the principle of public accountability is not for this Court to pass upon. I grant that the Chief Justice believed in good faith that after periodically filing his sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court were sufficient to allow the Clerk of Court to comply with the Constitution and the law. We cannot ignore the fact that the failure or refusal, particularly of public officials in high government positions, to provide the public or the media with copies of the SALNs, continues to be a raging issue to this day. In fact, some, if not most of the members of the Prosecution panel itself, the Members of the Supreme Court, members of Congress and other high officials of the government have been challenged by media organizations to make their SALNs available to the public and to the media. Paragraph 2.3 of Article II further accuses the Respondent Chief Justice, based on reports, of not including some properties in his declaration of his assets, liabilities, and net worth, in violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act. The Prosecution, based on the list it procured from the LRA, claims that the Chief Justice owned and failed to fully disclose in his SALN 45 real estate assets. Based on the evidence, I am convinced that the Defense has presented credible evidence to refute this charge and to explain the exclusion in the Respondent Chief Justices SALNs of certain properties which have either been sold or legally transferred, properties which are actually owned by his children and/or third parties, and properties which were never owned by the Respondent in the first place.

I am likewise convinced that the Defense has sufficiently established that there was no ill intention on the part of the Respondent to understate or misrepresent the value of his real properties. Proceeding now to the most significant charge involving the non-disclosure of the Respondent Chief Justices cash assets. The Ombudsman, at the instance of the Defense, testified with a presentation of a report from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), showing 82 bank accounts allegedly belonging to the Respondent. She further testified that based on her analysis of the report, aided by the Commission on Audit, the Chief Justice had cash assets in the examined bank accounts of anywhere from US$10 Million to US$ 12 Million. Even if we grant the existence of these 82 accounts, the amount of deposits corresponding to each of these could not just easily, fairly or logically be summed up to arrive at exactly how much cash assets or deposits, in actuality and in totality, the Respondent Chief Justice had or has at any given point in time. Hence, the Ombudsmans reference to a transactional balance of about US$12 Million should not mislead this Court in its appreciation of the facts. Regrettably, both the Prosecution and the Defense panels decided not to present the concerned bank officers or the AMLC to ascertain the veracity of the data allegedly provided by the AMLC to the Office of the Ombudsman, despite the Respondents submission to this Court of a written waiver to cause the opening of all his bank accounts. Laudable as this belated act on the part of the Respondent Chief Justice may be, it would have served him better if he had just presented bank documents as evidence to either confirm or refute the documents showing his bank transactions as presented by the Ombudsman. It has not escaped this Presiding Officer that initially, last May 22nd to be exact, before he walked out of the halls of this Court, the Chief Justice signed the said waiver in open court but made the release of the same conditional, that is, after all the 188 signatories to the Articles of Impeachment and Senator-Judge Franklin Drilon have signed a similar waiver. It

was only during the hearing last May 25 that the Chief Justice decided to submit the waiver to the Court without any conditions. Moreover, even as the Chief Justice had full access to his own bank accounts and all the opportunity to introduce evidence to disprove the data, findings and analysis presented by the Ombudsman or the report of the AMLC, the Defense did not introduce any such evidence. As it is, the Impeachment Court could only rely on the documents supplied by the Ombudsman which show the Respondents bank transactions but which do not show the actual bank balances of Respondents bank accounts. Instead, the Defense presented the Chief Justice himself as its last witness and pleaded for the Courts permission to allow the Respondent to deliver an opening statement. This Court, out of courtesy to the Chief Justice, decided to extend its understanding and to exercise liberality in granting the request. The long narration, where the Chief Justice touched on a wide range of issues, assertions of facts, accusations, opinions and personal sentiments, which the Respondent said he found necessary to narrate in order to clear his and his familys name, was later adopted by the Defense as the direct testimony of the Respondent. The Prosecution, on the other hand, waived its right to cross-examine the Chief Justice, provided the Defense would not conduct any further direct examination. Nevertheless, the Respondent Chief Justice testified and admitted, in answer to questions from a member of this Court, that he had around P80 Million in 3 Peso accounts and US$2.4 Million in 4 US Dollar accounts, but that he had purposely not declared these assets for 2 reasons: (1) That his Peso accounts represented commingled funds, and (2) That he was not required to report or declare his foreign currency deposits in his SALN because they were absolutely confidential under R.A. 6426. I disagree on both counts. If, indeed, any of the Respondents cash deposits were commingled with the funds

belonging to other parties such as the Basa Guidote Enterprises, Inc. (BGEI) or his children, the Respondent was still duty-bound to declare these deposits in his SALN, they being admittedly under his name. The evidence is devoid of any indication that the Chief Justice was holding these funds in trust for or that they were actually beneficially owned by any one other than himself or his wife. Assuming that any part of such deposits in truth belonged to third parties, the Respondent could have indicated such third-party funds as corresponding liabilities in his SALN. That would have reflected his real net worth. With all due respect, I believe that the Respondent Chief Justices reliance on the absolute confidentiality accorded to foreign currency deposits under Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6426 is grossly misplaced. The Constitution, in Article XI, Sec. 17, provides that A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth. x x x Are we now to say that this Constitutional command is limited to a public officials assets or deposits in local currency? If so, would we not be saying, in effect, that the Constitution allows something less than a full, honest and complete disclosure? It bears noting that the prescribed form of the SALN quite simply requires public officers and employees to declare their assets, real and personal, the latter to include cash and bank deposits, bonds, etc. It does not require the public officer or employee to indicate whether or not he or she has foreign currency notes or deposits. Neither does it require details such as account numbers, account names, bank identity nor any branch address. All that it requires is a declaration of the total amount of the funds deposited in any bank account or accounts maintained by the public official or employee concerned. Surely, the Chief Justice knows the equivalent value in local currency of his foreign currency deposits to be able to declare the same as part of his assets, especially since the aggregate amount of these foreign currency deposits, by his own account, amounts to US$2.4 Million.

The non-disclosure of these deposits, in both local and foreign currency, would naturally result in a corresponding distortion of the Chief Justices real net worth. Consistent with the position taken by this Court in the case filed by the Philippine Savings Bank before the Supreme Court last February, pursuant to which the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order, I maintain that the Constitutional principle of public accountability overrides the absolute confidentiality of foreign currency deposits. The provisions of R.A. 6426 cannot be interpreted as an exception to the unequivocal command and tenor of Article XI, Sec. 17, of the 1987 Constitution, and I regret that the Highest Magistrate of the land, no less, would think otherwise. Section 8 of R.A. 6426 provides that except with the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative or any other entity whether public or private. The so-called conflict of laws between R.A. Nos. 6713 and 6426 is more illusory than real. Section 8 of R.A. No. 6426 merely prohibits the examination, inquiry or looking into a foreign currency deposit account by an entity or person other than the depositor himself. But there is nothing in R.A. No. 6426 which prohibits the depositor from making a declaration on his own of such foreign currency funds, especially in this case where the Constitution mandates the depositor who is a public officer to declare all assets under oath. Some have raised the question: Why should the Chief Justice be held accountable for an offense which many, if not most others in Government are guilty of, perhaps even more than he is? They say that hardly anyone declares his true net worth anyway. Here lies what many have posited as a moral dilemma. I believe it is our duty to resolve this dilemma in favor of upholding the law and sound public policy. If we were to agree with the Respondent that he was correct in not disclosing the value of his foreign currency deposits because they are absolutely confidential, can we ever expect any SALN to be filed by public officials from hereon to be more accurate and true than they are today?

I am not oblivious to the possible political repercussions of the final verdict we are called upon to render today. I am deeply concerned that the people may just so easily ignore, forget, if not completely miss out, the hard lessons we all must learn from this episode, instead of grow and mature as citizens of a democratic nation. Those whose intentions and motivations may be farthest from the lofty ideals of truth and justice are wont to feast upon this mans downfall should this Court render a guilty verdict. I am equally aware of the tremendous pressure weighing heavily upon all the members of this Court as we had to come to a decision on this case, one way or the other. But to render a just verdict according to my best lights and my own conscience is a sacred duty that I have sworn to perform. As one who has been through many personal upheavals through all of my 88 years, I, too, have been judged, often unfairly and harshly. But I have constantly held that those who face the judgment of imperfect and fallible mortals like us have recourse to the judgment of history, and, ultimately, of God. And so, with full trust that the Almighty will see us through the aftermath of this chapter in our nations history, I vote to hold the Chief Justice, Renato C. Corona, GUILTY as charged under Article II, Par. 2.3, and that his deliberate act of excluding substantial assets from his sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth constitutes a culpable violation of the Constitution.