So let me reiterate what Article 2 contains since it is still the same article that the Senate is still tackling until now.
II. RESPONDENT COMMITTED CULPABLE VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION AND/OR BETRAYED THE PUBLIC TRUST WHEN HE FAILED TO DISCLOSE TO THE PUBLIC HIS STATEMENT OF ASSETS, LIABILITIES, AND NET WORTH AS REQUIRED UNDERSEC. 17, ART. XI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION.
« Respondent failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required by the Constitution.
« Some of the properties of Respondent are not included in his declaration of his assets, liabilities, and net worth, in violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act.
« Respondent is suspected of having accumulated ill-gotten wealth, acquiring assets of high values and keeping bank accounts with huge deposits (among others, a 300-sq. meter apartment in the Fort in Taguig).
Day 8 and Day 9 of the Impeachment Trial
In the previous trial, the Impeachment emphasized that they have only approved the promulgation of Article 2 to allow Prosecution to produce evidence on said article but should be limited to the first three, they disallowed number 4 which deals with the supposedly ill-gotten wealth of CJ Corona. Yesterday, the Chair of the Impeachment court also allowed the Prosecution to change the sequence of the Articles of Impeachment (which I have previously linked here in my earlier blogs on the trial). Article 2 is first on the list and subsequently Articles 3,7,1,8,4,5, and 6.
Yesterday, Megaworld Corporation’s Finance Director Giovanni Ng also testified on the alleged properties of CJ Corona, The Bellagio condominium unit of about 303.5 sq. meters for a total of P14.5M and the McKinley Hill property in the name of Ma. Czarina Corona (daughter of Corona), 203 sq. meter property for a total amount of P6.1M. Allegedly, Corona bought it for his daughter.
The first and only witness for today was Megaworld’s Senior Vice-President Noli Hernandez who was directly examined by Private Prosecutor Atty. Joseph Joemer Perez. He testified that Unit 38-B, a penthouse unit at the prestigious Bellagio was bought by Corona for P14.5M around September 2008. He further said that the original cost is around 78K to 80K per square meter, multiply that by 303.5M and you’ll come up with roughly P24M. He also testified that the unit is the last one being sold, semi-bared and has sustained water damage. They have repackaged it to P19.6M and was later adjusted to P14.5M which was the price finally sold to Corona and was paid in less than a year, that was roughly a 15% discount from the original price. It was the “uncommon circumstances” that prompted Megaworld to sell it at a lower price because of “force majeure” which in this case was typhoon.
Enrile asked, “Is it the practice for Megaworld to sell damaged unit?” I was wondering myself if it was insured and Hernandez said that yes, the building was “normally insured”. He was asked to give detailed description of the defects but he said that it has more “economic sense” to them to sell it as it was, damage and all, than to have it repaired before disposing said property. Something seems really fishy here. In my simple understanding of the trial, if it was covered by insurance in the first place, were they not able to get anything from the insurance company? Why sell it a loss of roughly P10M just to recover their cost? Would it take that much for a unit, semi-bared, rain-damaged and all to have it repaired? And he said further they did not sell it at a loss. Oh well, let us recall how the senators reacted and questioned the witness Noli Hernandez:
-Sen. Pia Cayetano – she asked what was the connection of the Article 2 in all those hullabaloo about the unit being sold at P14.5M. n She said they have wasted so much time on it.
-Sen. Bongbong Marcos manifested that he cannot make any connection between the Megaworld testimony and the Article 2 allegation. He said that he is not a lawyer but Senate President Enrile clarified that the actual price was not stated in Corona’s SALN. Rep. Elpidio Barzaga of the Prosecution argued that there was a reduction in the price as stated in the SALN and the discount of P5.0M actually represents an improvement in the property.
-Sen. Franklin Drilon reiterated what Article 2 was all about. It is not the act of filing itself but the filing of an accurate and truthful facts in the SALN. There must be a complete and timely disclosure of the assets.
-Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano asked Hernandez if there was a pending case of Megaworld when the transaction was made. Would they have offered the same price to any buyer?
-Sen. Jinggoy Estrada – he may seem funny at times but there are instances that I can’t make sense of what he wants to convey. At this point Hernandez said that discounts given are on a case-to-case basis, so it might probably depend also on who is the intended buyer of the property.
-Sen. Serge Osmena asked for the price list of the condominium units (six in all) and asked Hernandez if they filed any insurance claim. What is a huge loss and a minimal loss? What does semi-bared mean?
-Sen. Ralph Recto stated that the acquisition cost in the SALN should have been higher than P6.8M. He suggested changes in the procedure for the impeachment trial.
-Sen. Kiko Pangilinan asked Hernandez to submit a report on the damage.He asked for the Engineer’s Report on the damage of said unit sold and the former said that it is their Operations Dept. who is in charge of it. Sen. Enrile said that they would prepare a subpoena for these to be submitted tomorrow.
-Sen. Chiz Escudero- hindi binenta ng palugi. They did not sell it at a loss.
-Sen. Manny Villar explained that there are really circumstances governing “special prices” for real estate properties. He even cited that last December, one developer was willing to sell at a 40% discount but did not disclose the name. He is a real estate developer himself so he knows the ins and outs of the business.
Hernandez identified two cases in the Supreme Court by which they lost, thus making it appear that there was really no favor obtained from the Supreme Court to win their case.
“For the record, we wish to state that in all our business dealings with Chief Justice Corona, the company has neither solicited nor obtained any favor either from the Chief Justice or from the court,” Megaworld said.
“As a company, we shall uphold the highest standard of ethical business practices,” it further added.
As I have said in my previous blogs, the trial is taking so long and for the “common tao” they might interpret that they are wasting people’s tax money. They were able to present just one witness today because of the manifestations of the senators. The trial was adjourned at 5pm.
And I agree with Sen. Osmena that Hernandez sounded more like a witness of the Defense than of the Prosecution. The Prosecution did not brief him enough on how they would conduct the direct examination of the witness. Sen. Enrile made a “gentle request” from the Prosecution to confer with the witness first before putting him on the witness stand. Do your assignments people, time might come when you can’t even prove what you are impeaching him for.
The Filipino people wants to know the truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God.