MANILA, Philippines – Taking the witness stand on day 9 of the Corona impeachment trial, a senior executive of Megaworld debunked prosecution claims that the company granted the Chief Justice a hefty 40% discount when he bought a P14.5-M condominium unit in 2009.
Noli Hernandez, senior vice president for marking and sales of Megaworld, said that it was Megaworld’s decision to reduce the value of the
penthouse unit in Bellagio, Taguig, due to a “water damage” on it caused by a typhoon.
Three major typhoons passed Metro Manila in 2008: “Cosme” in May, “Frank” in June, and “Pablo” at the end of September.
He admitted that the price of the unit in 2009 was P24-M. But with the damage, Megaworld estimated that they would have to spend about P5-M to repair it.
Hernandez told the court: “It was delivered as a semi-bare unit, it wasn’t finished. There was a typhoon, and the unit sustained some water damage. We deliberated on what to do next. We were thinking of repackaging…the unit. We decided it was going to cost us more to get it redone. It made more economic sense to us. So, from P24-M I decided to lower the price to 19.6-M, a reduction of P5-M. That was how much it was going to cost us to renovate it.”
Megaworld then adjusted the price to P19.6-M, according to Hernandez. And since the Coronas were going to pay within a year, “almost in cash,” Hernandez said, the final cost was put at P14.5-M.
The prosecution was not prepared to present Hernandez on day 9.
At the start of the trial, lead prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas said they wanted to present an officer of the Securities and Exchange Commission to testify on the family corporation of Corona’s wife Cristina, the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc.
When asked by defense counsel Serafin Cuevas why the prosecution was not presenting an official of Megaworld, as mentioned in last Monday’s trial, Tupas said he was scheduled to testify on Wednesday, February 1.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto however said that Hernandez was subpoenaed to appear on Tuesday, prompting Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to threaten to cite him in contempt.
After a few minutes, however, Tupas was told about the presence of Hernandez in the session hall.
Tupas initially said that they wanted to pursue the Basa-Guidote issue first. But Enrile said Hernandez should take the witness stand first, to ensure conitnuity from Tuesday’s trial.
On Tuesday, private prosecutor Joseph Joemar Perez told the court that they suspected that Corona got a 40% discount from Megaworld.
But Enrile said, in the midst of Hernandez’s testimony on day 9, that this could not be termed as a “discount” but rather a “reduction” decided on solely by the developer. – Rappler.com