Trite as it may sound, I actually missed the Impeachment trial. For almost a month, our senator-judges were on recess so the impeachment resumed only yesterday (day 35). Sen. Sotto gave a recap on the previous days of the impeachment trial. Last March 22, Justice Secretary de Lima sent a letter saying that she cannot testify and on May 4, the Prosecution filed a motion to quash on the appearance of de Lima. Senate Pres. Enrile ruled that the motion was denied, and allowed the Defense to summon DOJ Sec. de Lima to testify again. But things have changed, this afternoon, one of the Defense lawyers Jose Roy III said that they might not need to present de Lima after all.
It’s quite interesting to note that whereas before, the Prosecution team earned the ire of Senate Pres. Enrile for being unprepared, this time, it’s the Defense’ turn to receive admonition and frequent banging of gavel from Sen. Enrile. He said that all witnesses presented yesterday during the resumption of the trial were irrelevant to the Article 2 of the impeachment. “If you think there is no case presented before this Court, that’s your problem. I guarantee that we’ll give you a fair trial”, Enrile said to the Defense. Nothing much has been discussed yesterday because the Defense was not ready to present more witnesses so the trial was adjourned early.
There was quite a big difference though on what happened today. The trial started with Sen. Angara making a manifestation as regard to the Defense motion that he inhibits from the proceedings since his son, Rep. Sonny Angara is a spokesperson of the Prosecution team. He said and I quote: “I consider it as a constitutional duty on my part to act as a judge & no argument can convince me I should inhibit.” He reiterated that he had no hand in his son Rep. Sonny Angara being chosen as one of spokespersons for the Prosecution.
It was Defense lawyer Roy who conducted the direct examination of the first witness of the day, Atty. Lucita Cristi, RTC Clerk of Court to prove ownership of Basa Guidote Enterprises. Cristi testified that there were two libel cases against the Basa family but before the final court order, the principal against the case Jose Ma. Basa died and the Prosecution questioned why there was still a motion for execution when law says that the death of the accused frees him from any civil and criminal liability. It seemed that the wife of the chief justice had again a hand in this because these two cases prompted the shares of stock of the Basa group to be auctioned publicly. Next witness was Sheriff Joseph Bisnar and he was there to prove that the Basa shares of stocks consisting of about 4, 839 were auctioned as a result of Mrs. Corona’s kin, the Basas losing in the libel case. And this is the most interesting part. The public auction was only attended by CJ Corona’s daughter Carla Castillo, her mom and her lawyer. Castillo bought the shares at only P28,000.00 but the par value of the shares and actual worth was almost half a million making her the majority shareholder by having more than 90% of the total ownership of the Basa group (Basa Guidote Enterprises). Money changed hands between daughter and mother with the latter acting as the executor. Any right-thinking individual would ask, if it was a public auction, why was it that there was only one bidder? And the bid price was so undervalued.
It seemed that getting Bisnar as a witness backfired on the Defense. He didn’t even know that Jose Ma. Basa died prior to issuing the writ of execution. He belongs to the judicial branch of the government and yet he was not so sure about Corona being the Associate Justice around the time the sale was done. Prosecution pointed out that writ of execution should not have been implemented because the accused is dead. The Prosecution took more time questioning the witness than the direct examination by the Defense. They did their homework coming out and eliciting more facts about the sale of such stocks which seemed to be questionable. And here’s the bombshell, a positive one if you ask me, Roy said that Corona told him that he is willing to testify. Yahoo, when will that be, the people are waiting. Senator Lacson suggested that Corona make a waiver on his dollar accounts because they fear that when the time comes that the latter presents himself to the court, he might invoke his right to self-incrimination and the bank secrecy law. Roy said that if the Impeachment Court is inclined that they should address the issue of $10M, which is now pending in the Ombudsman, then they will willingly confront the issue. Sen. Enrile said to the Defense that “any asset, regardless of whether legally or illegally obtained, is a function of the SALN. ”
I’ll wait for the day when the Chief Justice will have his day in court, defending himself and proving to each and every Filipino that he deserves an acquittal, not a conviction.
In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.