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Posts Tagged ‘Corona’s Impeachment’


I am actually at a loss for words as I write this.  And I am playing some of their songs on YouTube while doing this blog. One need not introduce the Bee Gees because apart from the Beatles, they’re also one of the most influential groups while I was growing up. Back in the 60’s when I was in grade school, my dad used to have those round flat disks which they called 45  then LPs (long-playing records) followed suit. If you ask me, I guess the 60’s has the most number of  music artists and singers that ever graced the music world. And the era was so rich with unforgettable music including The British Invasion. Ano ang pamana ni Lady Gaga?

Okay, okay, I am feeling so nostalgic that I want to play all the popular Bee Gees music.  Here are some of their well-known songs that catapulted them to fame during the 60’s. Thanks to those who uploaded them on YouTube. Got this particular album Best of Bee Gees on cassette but I don’t know where it is now because we no longer have cassette record player.

Know what I mean? Before you know it, you’ll be humming the same tunes long after you’ve heard them. That’s what you call LSS to the max. I am also looking forward to tomorrow’s hearing on the Chief Justice’s trial. Finally, CJ Corona will grace the witness stand to prove that  whatever wealth he has accumulated during his term of office as a government employee has been included in his SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) which is a requirement for them to file every year. It does not matter how much, whether it is a mere P10.00 pesos or $10,000,000.00 dollars, the Filipino people have a right to know the truth.  Always remember this, the truth will set you free and you can sleep well knowing that you’re not hiding anything.

Good luck Jessica Sanchez. Show them  all that you’ve got what it takes to be a champion.  Make the Filipinos proud. Let’s hope that you’ll also find time to visit the Philippines because I am sure you will be welcomed with open arms.

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Mark this on your calendar – Tuesday, May 22, 2012. It’s Corona’s turn to clear his name.  Finally!

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I must admit that since the re-opening of Corona’s impeachment trial last week, my afternoons are being eaten up  staying in front of the TV and making notes of the unfolding drama right before my eyes. It’s more than a teleserye because you can’t even predict the ending and the characters seem to change clothes as fast as they can say, Your honor.  There is this  lady senator who acts like maamong tupa one moment and a raging volcano the next.  And the faces of the Defense team, Tatang Cuevas makes me really laugh sometimes.  Kidding aside, I learned a lot the past two days  and it does help that my experience  as a bank employee for more than twenty-one years made me  more appreciative of the ongoing trial. Bank transactions  – deposits, withdrawals,  bank transfers,  ending balances, AMLC, they’re  familiar enough .

DAY 37

Yesterday was day 37  of the Corona impeachment trial and the senator judges were in complete attendance (for the first time, I think).  Last week, one of the lawyers of the Defense told the Impeachment Court that CJ Corona agreed to testify at a  later date and they asked  Enrile to issue a subpoena to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on the alleged $10M  dollar account of Corona.  They wanted to prove that such account does not exist.  Morales would be a hostile witness for the Defense.  She arrived at the Senate  before 2pm and she was the first witness to testify for the day.  Cuevas recalled that she was the only one who dissented to the appointment of Corona as Chief Justice in 2010 on what was considered a midnight appointment made by Arroyo. When Morales received a complaint regarding some dollar accounts of Corona, she wrote to the latter to explain about it and sought the assistance of the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) and formed a panel to act on the complaint. She started a fact-finding investigation  and was able to obtain materials relevant to the complaint.  She explained that she was just discharging  her mandate. The Defense has moved to consider her as a hostile witness so Enrile declared the Ombudsman as a hostile witness to the Defense.

Cuevas has finally met his match. It was a verbal tussle between two former justices of the highest court of the land.  And the thing is, the Defense team thought Morales’ testimony would strengthen Corona’s case but it did the opposite, it backfired on them.  Morales was able to obtain a 17-page report from AMLC  detailing the dollar trail of the  various Corona accounts consisting of about  $10M deposited in five banks.  I would like to point out that the Anti Money Laundering Act (R.A. 9160)  criminalizes money laundering, creates a financial intelligence unit (FIU), imposes requirements on customer identification, record-keeping and reporting of covered and suspicious transactions, relaxes strict bank deposit secrecy laws and provides for freezing/seizure/forfeiture recovery of dirty money/property.
It was later amended by R.A. 9194.

Katarungan at Katotohanan – Day 38

Sen. Pimentel in his interview prior to the start of the hearing said that AMLC should explain  the report on Corona accounts.  Ombudsman Morales showed in her second day of  testifying before the Impeachment Court  a  power point presentation of the summary of US$ inflow  in Corona’s account from April 14, 2003 to December 22, 2011 amounting to $12,155,350.86.  Staggering? Questionable?  Suspicious? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, only he can explain where this huge amount came from.  Morales mentioned that Corona made significant deposits and withdrawals during the 2004 and 2007 elections and the week of his impeachment last December 2011.  It’s interesting to note that Bank of the Philippine Islands where I used to work issued this statement since it was mentioned as one of the banks where Corona maintains his account:

Bank of the Philippine Islands
Statement re: Corona Impeachment Trial

“In the banking industry, our relationship with our depositors is built on trust. We cannot build and sustain this trust if we do not adhere to and observe the time-honored banker and depositor confidentiality, subject of course, to certain exceptions provided for by law. At the moment, we cannot make a comment on the alleged dollar accounts with us.”

BPI is not actually denying that Corona has a dollar  account with the bank .  Oh yes, Justice Cuevas, hindi na uso ang passbook. BPI has been using ATM cards since the 80’s 🙂 And here’s  a complete summary on what happened on Day 38. It’s an ABS CBN news blog. Thanks ABS CBN!

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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. 
-Albert Einstein 

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We’ve all been talking about it since day 1 but I stopped blogging about it on day 15. What the…..like any concerned Filipino citizen, I continued to watch it though until they went on Lenten recess last Thursday. It’s more than a month-long vacation for our esteemed senator judges, plenty of time to think and yes, reflect on what is happening  and what happened so far with the impeachment trial. Lately, Pulse Asia made this survey, a performance and trust ratings of various government officials and CJ Corona is included in it. One lady senator threatened to put them (and all those conducting their own surveys asking the CJ to resign) in contempt of court. I wonder if they are violating any rule but most of us appreciate these surveys if only to know the pulse of the nation. An economist friend who has a regular column in a daily newspaper says that if Corona is acquitted, it would surely affect our economy. Take that as something negative.

I am a regular reader of  this site, an updated  and thorough analyses on Corona’s impeachment. Raissa Robles is a journalist/blogger and I always  look  forward to what she writes  on Rappler.  Do visit her site , she’s a bright light amidst all the noise between the Prosecution and Defense teams.  And I always believe ;  “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

And here’s an open letter  to Sr. Flory Basa, FMM which I found in my inbox, it was penned by Dennis Concepcion.

Last night, I posted in an online Inquirer article an open letter to Sister Flory Basa, aunt of Cristina Roco Corona. Almost as soon as hit the Save button, comments poured in, and people started sharing and re-posting the letter in different blogs and sharing sites. I even found a Cebuano translation of the letter just today. Although there were a few negative reactions, majority of those who commented were very supportive. I guess a lot of people share the same sentiments as I have.

I am sharing the letter in its original form, and some of the links to sites where it has been re-posted so you would be able to read both the good and not so good reactions.

Dear Sister Flory,

I almost gave up on the impeachment process. I thought it was going nowhere. The defense team was succeeding in their suppression of evidences. The prosecution was fumbling all over the place. Some Senator-Judges were openly showing their dogged resolve to literally look the other way as the impeached pretender to the position of Chief Justice trampled on the very basic tenets of integrity and honesty. Like you, I had left it to the Good Lord to do justice in His own time.

But then your family, most especially you, came along. God indeed works in mysterious ways! The lawyers of Mr Corona and their misguided followers have done and will continue to do everything to discredit you, short of calling you a lying senile and disgruntled relative who wants more money. I saw your interview on TV, and you have that serenity about you. It is a peace of mind and soul that only true forgiveness can bring about. But you also have that resoluteness in your voice – firm, truthful and honest. You said charity made you forgive the Coronas, but truth and justice compels you to speak up and let the people confront the truth about Mr Renato Corona.

God has not only been good to you, He has shown even more compassion to us the Filipino people. While a lot of people your age would have been beset with illnesses of both body and mind, you have been blest with good health and a mind still so sharp and lucid. It is not so for no reason, I am sure. When the battle seemed lost, you came forth like a shining star to remind us not to lose hope. God allowed you to outlive your siblings so that the truth may be proclaimed in all its brutal glory, and not in the convoluted version being peddled to us by those who seek to block our nation’s search for justice.

Thank you for your courage in proclaiming the truth. Mr Corona might have succeeded in having his character flaws overlooked by the Judicial and Bar Council when he was planted by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Supreme Court. He might have pushed his luck too far when he got his minions in the SC to legitimize his midnight appointment. I do not think he will be able to shut out the flames of truth that you now so resolutely hold in your hands. While they have everything to lose and will do anything and everything to cover up their lies, you only have your faith in God and his abiding fidelity to his promise that His justice will be supreme over all human frailties.

If it is not too much to ask, we will be forever grateful if you will do us a great favour – please take the witness stand. Please tell this nation how this man who claims the exalted position of Chief Justice as his unalienable right has done injustice to his own kin for more than 30 years. Please tell our Senators, who have been vested by our sovereign will with power in order to protect our nation’s interest, how the same power when wielded by someone who do not have the probity, integrity and moral uprightness not to be drowned by it can abuse the same to inflict harm on the very people he is supposed to serve and protect. You, who are old and weak, you whose only weapon is the truth, can teach our power-tripping Senators a most valuable lesson in humility and fairness.

I know it might be too much to ask from a frail, 90 year old servant of the Lord. But the stakes are too high – our future and those of the generations to come. If we allow this travesty to pass, we would have sold our souls to the devil. What are we teaching to our children? That as long as you can justify it in the rules of court, it is okay to be to be dishonest? That it is okay to do wrong as long as you can win it in court? That it is okay to do away with morals and the sense of what is right and what is wrong as long as there are good lawyers that you can pay to twist the facts and suppress the truth? Is this what we want for our country? Please say it isn’t so Sister Flory. For your family’s and for our country’s sake, please say it isn’t so.

And before I end this rather long letter, I would like to assure you that in case you do decide to take the witness stand and if Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago dare try to scare you off with her histrionics and self-serving plaudits to her perceived superior intelligence, and God forbids that something bad happens to you, I will march on the street even if I should do it by my lonesome self, and demand that God open up the ocean and swallow the entire Senate and everyone else who have dragged this country into the dark abyss.God is with you. We are with you. All right thinking Filipinos should be with you. Let us not stay in the dark. You have the light. Lead us to our redemption as a nation. God Bless you Sister Flory.

Sincerely,

Den

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It’s now Day 23 of the trial and I wrote earlier that I am getting tired watching it but still, I remain glued infront of the television every afternoon anticipating what will happen next or who will appear as the Prosecution’s next witness. Yesterday, it was Secretary of Justice de Lima who was called to the witness stand and she testified on the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court last November 15, 2011 which we all know she defied. It pertains to the motion filed by the Arroyo family to grant them permit to travel abroad to seek medical help while they were still on the Watch List Order (WLO). The rest is history since the Bureau of Immigration didn’t allow them to leave on the instructions of Secretary of Justice de Lima. She said in her testimony that the TRO issued, which she said is a continuing TRO (for ordinary people like me, that means, there is no expiry date) did not reach her office until the following day. She further said that the SJ spokesperson Midas Marquez announced the validity of the TRO even if these conditions were not met.

At the start of the trial today, she was cross-examined by the lead Defense lawyer Cuevas and moved that all the testimonies pertaining to the dissenting opinions of  Asst. Justice Sereno be removed from the record since De Lima has no personal knowledge of what took place inside the Supreme Court and she just based her testimonies on the records attached (dissenting opinions of Justice Sereno).  Despite Sen. Santiago’s motion that the Defense team was right in their assessment that it was a hearsay evidence, the Senate Pres. Judge Enrile made a ruling that they are not striking out the testimonies made yesterday by de Lima since an Impeachment Court is different from a criminal court where hearsay evidences are not allowed except in eleven instances where they recognizes such. He cited two books, two extensive studies made in the US  regarding Impeachment trials. And since this is the first time that they are impeaching a Chief Justice, they could not base it on some previous trials made in the past.  The Impeachment Court had decided earlier at the start of the trial that they would not issue subpoena to the judges of the Supreme Court.

Watch List Order (WLO) prevents anyone from just leaving the country without a “lifting” or “allow order” and has  a 60-day duration  while Hold Departure Order (HDO) is valid for 5 years  unless lifted by the Court of Justice. Sen. Lacson asked de Lima if there is a law that authorizes Circular 41 and she answered that there is no law expressly authorizing the Department of Justice (DOJ) or DOJ Chief to issue a WLO but DOJ has power to issue rules and to promulgate rules and regulations. She further said that the power to issue HDO/WLO may have been abused in former Pres. Arroyo’s time but she assured Lacson that she won’t do that out of a political vendetta.

I won’t delve into the nitty-gritty of what happened today since it was so obvious that most senators were just grandstanding by way of “clarificatory questions” but I appreciate what I learned, that in a criminal court, hearsay evidence is not permitted  and you don’t need to worry about your rights being violated  if you are a law-abiding citizen, you would not even be served a HDO or a WLO.

And here’s the latest news on former Pres. Arroyo’s arraignment today at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court. Arroyo entered a “not guilty” plea on poll sabotage case.

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Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience stands He waiting, with exactness grinds He all.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Two more wasted days, and  just like most Filipinos, I am impatient to know the truth. Although this is a learning curve for most  of us simply because this is the first time that a Supreme Court Justice  representing the highest court of the land is being impeached,  it’s getting to be so boring. Why am I still watching? Because we are talking of accountability here.

Just like the rest, I patiently watch and take notes of the trial. Defense says CJ Corona will reveal it all in due time. How long do you measure “due time”? The Prosecution is still on Article 2 at mukhang napako na dun. Could we hold on the SJ Corona’s statement that he has nothing to hide?

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Day 15, Thursday, February 09, 2012

This is just a recap of the 15th day of CJ Corona’s Impeachment trial. The trial started with 17 Senators present at exactly 2:05pm.  The Impeachment Court will tackle on Monday( that is today) PS Bank’s explanation on non-compliance with subpoena for Corona’s dollar accounts. Since we all know that the Supreme Court issued a TRO in favor of PS Bank’ petition, let’s see how it would go as far as the Impeachment Court is concerned.

Cuevas said the Impeachment court is not higher than the Supreme Court and Farinas said Supreme Court under Corona has violated separation of powers of co-equal branches of the government. Enrile emphasized that the Senate will vote as one, no less than 16 judges.  I can’t believe that I took three pages of notes on Day 15 and here are the highlights. PS Bank President was back on the witness stand.

Sen. Judge Drilon –  said that Garcia was familiar with the accounts since he examined them after receiving the subpoena.  The branch manager of PS Bank Katipunan branch was made to understand all the possible liabilities – imprisonment if she would disclose the foreign deposits accounts of CJ Corona so the president offered to testify.

Account No. 089120120122 – Garcia was not aware of it. They will bring the documents that are included in the subpoena but Drilon said they could issue another subpoena to have it included. Why would the bank manager be present? Sen. Enrile reiterated that Garcia came there to assume responsibility for the bank.

Sen. Judge Marcos – clarified that they have agreed to look only at the 2010 year-end balances. He asked if they were expanding the scope of the subpoena for SJ Corona’s bank records.

Account  No. 089121087358 – Drilon asked again for the starting balance for this account. Enrile said they have to rule on this.

Sen. Judge Allan Peter Cayetano – clarified that the subpoena for SJ Corona’s bank accounts includes records on initial balance , including the opening documents. Garcia did not answer about the dollar accounts. And he cannot disclose any information concerning the dollar accounts. The Impeachment Court required the branch Manager of PS Bank Annabel Tiongson to appear today to testify.

Sen. Judge Osmena – moved that all other accounts offered by PS Bank like UITF, Certificates of Deposits be likewise examined by the IC.

Defense lawyer Cuevas complained that the clarificatory questions border on cross-examination.  Cayetano said that RA 1405 (Bank Secrecy Law on Local Deposits) clearly said that if it is an order of the Impeachment Court, peso accounts are allowed to be examined . He even referred to a previous Supreme Court ruling, re: Salvacion case (garnishment, the complainant was a minor raped by a foreigner) and said that the ruling was interpreted in the interest of justice. Cayetano asked, Isn’t it an injustice if the IC cannot look into the  dollar accounts? He asked if Garcia honestly think that he will be imprisoned because of it.  Who interprets the law? Will you comply if there is no TRO on Monday? Will you bring the document?  Garcia answered he will not.

Sen. Judge Pangilinan – asked if one receives a written consent from the owner of the account, will they comply?  he said that the IC does not issue illegal orders. Cuevas believes that CJ Corona will not give his consent to open his dollar accounts.

Sen. Judge Estrada – asked if Garcia was aware of any attached paper on the subpoena . Garcia said that it did not come from their bank and Estrada showed it to him. Garcia said it is just a photocopy and not the original document. He cannot commend on it because he needs to compare it with the original and there are dollar accounts written there.

Pres. Judge Enrile took the floor and  reiterated his request to have the branch manager present. He further asked who has access to such similar records and Garcia answered the bank manager and the bank tellers have access to it. he asked who is the custodian of records and Garcia answered it is the customer relations officer of the bank. Enrile said that the Central Bank is now conducting investigation on this leakage and the IC has possession of these leaked documents. Enrile asked Garcia if the security is lax but Garcia insisted that they are not facsimiles of the original documents. Enrile is now sarcastic and mentioning that maybe, a langaw, ipis, or daga did the photocopy.  Garcia was required to produce an original copy. These documents were anonymously given to the Prosecution panel reflecting accounts from PS Bank. Is Garcia denying that these account numbers are existing in their records? Enrile asked Garcia to just answer yes or no if these accounts really exist. As it happened, all the accounts mentioned by Enrile which are contained on the leaked documents exist in their records. Garcia insisted and believe that the bank documents did not come from PS Bank. Estrada thanked Enrile for asking the questions he was supposed to ask.

Bank of the Philippine Island’s bank manager Leonora Dizon came next on the witness stand and testified that the lone  peso checking account of CJ Corona reflected a balance of P12,024,067.70 as of year ending December 2010 and is still on current status. Osmena requested that they also issue a subpoena to know if there are other accounts existing with BPI.

Let’s see how the trial goes today because last night the Defense panel had a surprise press conference, a really shocking turn of events if you ask me.  Here’s a link on what happened last night.

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Day 14- The Chief Justice Trial

Yesterday, I think,  was the most interesting day of CJ Corona’s trial. Something is slowly unraveling and you don’t have to be a seasoned or a high-caliber lawyer to understand what is going on.

Points to Ponder:

  • Corona’s defense lawyers files  a petition before the Supreme Court to stop Impeachment Trial and a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on bank summons.
  • Corona asks  to defer action on bank summons.
  • Corona files motion seeking inhibition of  Justice Carpio (the most senior member of the Supreme Court) and Justice Sereno, Pres. PNoy’s appointee to the SC.
  • Corona seeks special raffle of his petition at the Supreme Court (in which he is the incumbent Chief Justice)

Sen. Santiago said earlier that the courts have no jurisdiction over the impeachment process. Sen. Guingona said that the Supreme Court cannot and should not impose its will on the Impeachment Court. They are only co-equal when they are exercising legislation. The presiding Senator-Judge Enrile emphasized that they are not partisans nor combatants.  He said further that the Impeachment Court is a court of law. They acted on Sen. Santiago’s motion for reconsideration regarding the  issuing of subpoena to bank personnel where Corona maintains accounts. Majority of the senator-judges resolved  not to approve the motion for reconsideration and the Impeachment court stood by its ruling granting subpoena for Corona’s bank records.  They went into caucus a few minutes after the opening of the trial to tackle on Corona’s petition on subpoena for bank records.  They denied the motion to defer action on the bank subpoenas. And here’s the interesting part. Enrile said that  in absence of TRO from SC, the trial will proceed.

The Impeachment Court sent a subpoena to the Bank Manager of PS Bank-Katipunan Branch, surprisingly though, it was the Bank president, Pascual Garcia III who appeared before the IC with his legal counsel. Prosecution will prove before the Impeachment body that Corona have ten bank accounts with PS Bank.  Garcia manifested that he owes it to their depositors and subordinates to appear before the Impeachment Court, in short as part of command responsibility, he took the cudgels  to protect his employees, in this case, the Bank Manager of one of their branches to appear before the IC. He however emphasized that he only brought the documents for the five peso deposit accounts. They asked him why there was only one opening document for the accounts that Corona maintains at the bank.  Even in other banks, this would suffice since normally, an opening document ask the same information regardless of how many accounts you have.  This is a standard procedure for most banks.  Garcia said that he brought bank certificates containing details and ending balance of the five peso accounts maintained by Corona at their bank and it turned out that there is roughly about P24.0 plus outstanding as of December 2010.

Corona’s $ Accounts Maintained with PSBank

The Prosecutors asked why Garcia did not bring the documents for the five remaining foreign currency deposit accounts  of Corona and he invoked RA 6426. He is not allowed to disclose them for fear of facing criminal liability. Here is a portion of RA 6426 which is An Act Instituting A Foreign Currency Deposit System in the Philippines.

Section 8. Secrecy of foreign currency deposits. – All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by PD No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under PD No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon 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; Provided, however, That said foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. (As amended by PD No. 1035, and further amended by PD No. 1246, prom. Nov. 21, 1977.)

Sen. Drilon said that Garcia faces contempt of court while Sen. Arroyo argued that they should grant some consideration to the witness. He is not acting in bad faith because he is just protecting the bank.  My question is, which should be followed, the law on foreign currency deposits or the command of the Impeachment Court to divulge Corona’s dollar accounts? The Senator-Judges had a deliberation on this and asked Garcia to submit a letter to the IC explaining the reason why he should not be cited in contempt.

From the start of the trial, Defense lawyers said that Corona is not guilty of all the charges and he is willing to prove that he has nothing to hide. Why, all of a sudden, in the middle of the trial will he ask to defer action on the bank summons?  And why would he seek motion that Carpio, (a more senior member of the Supreme Court who they said should have been the Chief Justice instead of the former) and Sereno, an appointee of Pres. PNoy should inhibit from such proceedings? He is the accused here and the Supreme Court is his turf, is it legal for him to stop the Impeachment Trial? Why is he crying wolf now, he should have done that at the start of the Impeachment proceedings. The Filipino people deserve to know the truth.

You don’t need to be a lawyer to understand how it is going. For the man on the street, the logical solution would be, “kung wala ng tiwala ang tao sa iyo, di ba dapat umalis ka na?” Then we could have avoided all these problems arising from the Impeachment trial, then there would be no fear of constitutional crisis in our land.

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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.

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