MANILA, Philippines – Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr is confident the prosecution panel has presented sufficient evidence to convict Chief Justice Renato Corona under Article 2 of the impeachment complaint.
The latest testimonies of the real estate developers of properties which Corona purchased, according to Tupas, helped nail the case for the prosecution.
“Tiwala kami na with this alone, Article 2, we can convince senators to convict Chief Justice Corona for betrayal of public trust,” Tupas said in a press conference.
Article 2 refers to Corona’s supposed failure to disclose his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth (SALN).
“We have proven that the Chief Justice has been repeatedly lying under oath in his SALNs,” said prosecution spokesperson Romero “Miro” Quimbo.
On Monday, officials of property developers Megaworld and Ayala Land took the witness stand. They testified and presented documents to show the following:
1) The McKinley Hill property registered under Corona’s daughter Charina was actually paid for by the Chief Justice.
2) The Chief Justice got a 40% discount for the Bellagio property, although Megaworld finance director Giovanni Ng said the needed rectifications in the purchased unit justified the discount
3) The Bonifacio Ridge property was transferred to the Corona couple as early as 2005 but was declared only in Corona’s 2010 SALN
“It is clear in our laws, particularly the Code of Judicial Ethics of Judges that they are forbidden from receiving gifts,” said Rep Juan Edgardo Angara, also prosecution spokesperson.
“This is a good day,” added Quimbo. “We have completed the story. We have seen the SALN and the ITRs (income tax returns). He has no capability to buy the expensive properties,” said Quimbo.
“Nakita natin sa records ng developers binayaran nila ng malalaking halaga,” Quimbo added. (We saw in the records of the developers that they paid with huge amounts.)
Quimbo said the witnesses showed Corona’s “patterns of deceit and lies.” The properties were declared in Corona’s SALN in 2010 when they were acquired years before that. Quimbo maintains the Chief Justice should have declared the McKinley Hill property, too.
Tupas said the question remains: Where did the money come from?
“In the course of the trial, lalabas yun. Depensa (ang may responsibilidad na ipakita) kung mayroon silang pera. Base sa legal na income, wala kami makita,” Tupas said. (In the course of the trial, it will come out. The burden is with the defense to show they have the means. Based on their legal income, we couldn’t see anything.)
The SALN shows the Chief Justice has a maximum annual income of P600,000. The defense is yet to show if he has additional sources of income.
The prosecution is gearing up to complete its presentation of evidence for Article 2 this week. Next in line is Article 3, which drags Corona’s wife Cristina deeper into the trial. It looks into her appointment to the John Hay Management Corp by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The prosecution has said it constituted a conflict of interest. – Rappler.com