#CoronaTrial: Day 16

KD Suarez
Live blog of Day 16 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

MANILA, Philippines – Here are the highlights of Day 16 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Session starts late, as the senator-judges convene in caucus prior to trial to decide on whether to follow the temporary restraining order (TRO) of the Supreme Court (SC) on opening the foreign currency deposits in PSBank.

3:02 pm: Session starts. Roll call: 22 senators present, including Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who has been absent in the previous sessions due to medical reasons.

3:07 pm: Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada manifests, and proceeds to “denounce” the allegations made on Sunday, February 12, by the defense panel lawyers about the “bribery offers” made by Malacañang to the senator-judges. “I challenge you, the defense panel, to name your source… Magpakalalaki tayo dito.”

3:10 pm: Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano asks defense lawyers about the Sunday presscon, says he tried to understand what they did. He excuses lawyers Serafin Cuevas and Joel Bodegon.

He then grills defense lawyer Judd Roy on the circumstances of the presscon and their allegations. Cayetano says the defense panel put the impeachment court in a tough position.

3:23 pm: Senator-judge Pia Cayetano takes floor, denounces the defense’s announcements.

3:27 pm: Senator-judge Franklin Drilon takes floor, asks Roy about their pronouncement that they will present Chief Justice Corona’s dollar bank accounts “in due time.” Roy confirms this, but says they are not authorized to say when, saying it is at the discretion of their client.

Roy maintains that the Chief Justice will disclose information on relevant bank accounts if it is their turn to present their case.

3:28 pm: Senator-judge Antonio Trillanes IV asks the defense: Who are the senators you are referring to? Roy says, their information had nothing to do with the identity of the senators.

3:31 pm: Trillanes moves to have the defense explain why they should not be cited for contempt. Enrile gives them until the end of the week to submit their memorandum.

3:33 pm: Senator-judge Aquilino Pimentel III asks about the presentation of the decision on the Corona dollar accounts.

3:38 pm: Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile reads Senate decision on Supreme Court TRO.

3:40 pm: Senator-judges explain their votes: Teofisto Guingona III, followed by Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes IV, A. Cayetano, P. Cayetano, Santiago, Estrada. Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Manuel Villar.

Senator-judges Pangilinan, P. Cayetano, and Presiding Officer Enrile will also file written explanations of their votes.

4:22 pm: Trial proceeds. Santiago asks lead prosecutor Niel Tupas some questions. She grills Tupas about their knowledge of the alleged dollar accounts, and the relevance of the accounts to their case.

She asks Tupas about what should be the benchmark when declaring an account shows betrayal of public trust; she says it should depend on the circumstances of the defendant. She also asks if the Corona accounts have been investigated by the Anti-Money Laundering Council; Tupas says he doesn’t know.

She also asks – and lectures – Tupas about the prosecution’s arguments on bank secrecy and relevance to the case. She also argues about the implications of opening foreign deposits. 

4:42 pm: Session suspended for “15 minutes,” as court awaits next witness.

5:28 pm: Session resumes. Senate impeachment court calls on PSBank president Pascual Garcia III to the witness stand, but both defense and prosecution have no more questions to ask him, due to the effect of the court resolution on the SC TRO.

Drilon, Osmeña ask clarificatory questions. Osmeña also asks to include in the court’s subpoena for bank documents, documents on settlement accounts under investments management, trust accounts, and mutual funds in pesos.

5:38 pm: Garcia is discharged. PSBank Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson is called to the stand. Before she testifies, Enrile reminds Tiongson to testify only regarding peso accounts, citing the SC TRO.

Drilon quizzes Tiongson about the PSBank peso accounts under the nameof the Chief Justice.

5:47 pm: Cuevas asks court: Whose witness is currently on the stand? He says the prosecution did not claim her as her witness. Enrile says she was summoned by Drilon. Drilon says the witness was subpoenaed to bring opening documents of Corona, not for the alleged leakage of the bank documents.

Cuevas argues, they don’t know the value of her testimony. A. Cayetano says this is a regular procedure for an impeachment court (the examination of witnesses by the senator-judges). The precedence, Cayetano says, was the impeachment trial of former President Estrada.

Enrile also scolds prosecution, saying they are just gathering evidence now, and that this would be a “fatal flaw” later on. Enrile, Cuevas, Drilon debate on the subpoena for Tiongson.

Drilon argues she was called to testify on basis of an earlier subpoena; a subpoena was issued again because it was Garcia who testified, and the opening documents were not brought to court.

Cuevas, however, maintains Tiongson is neither a witness for the prosecution, defense, or for Drilon. Custodio then says ruling was already made for the prosecution to adapt her as witness. Enrile then orders Tiongson’s earlier testimony stricken off the record because no one offered her testimony, and orders prosecution to direct examine her.

6:09 pm: Prosecution then presents Tiongson as their witness. She then presents documents related to the 5 peso accounts of the Chief Justice at PSBank.

6:22 pm: Enrile quizzes Tiongson about the bank records, specifically the generation of the bank certifications.

6:33 pm: Cross-examination about to start, but Sotto says Estrada would like to manifest, because he had requested Tiongson to appear before the court. Enrile however, wants cross examination before Estrada manifests.

Cross examination begins. Cuevas asks Tiongson about the documents. He asks if Tiongson knows Tupas, saying they have information that the lead prosecutor is a client of the bank. Prosecution objects, says it is irrelevant to the case. Tiongson invokes the Bank Secrecy Law.

Cuevas asks to subpoena Tupas’s bank records, but Enrile denies request, says the bank accounts of the lead prosecutor has nothing to do with the case.

Tiongson later tells court it is the first time for her to see Tupas in person.

6:50 pm: Drilon explains he ask for Tiongson because she was on the original subpoena.

6:51 pm: Estrada manifests, asks clarificatory questions to Tiongson. He asks why she did not appear the first time she was called, and reasons that Garcia offered to take the stand on her behalf.

Estrada asks about the leak of the Corona bank documents to the prosecution. Tiongson says it did not come from their bank or branch.

7:25 pm: Session suspended. Impeachment court clerk of court looks for the copies of the documents in question.

7:30 pm: Session resumes. Sotto tells court that based on CCTV video, there was no “small lady” handing documents to Rep Reynaldo Umali.

Enrile presses Tiongson if the documents are a replica or copy of a document from their bank. Upon further prodding from Enrile, she says the documents are fake, that the documents did not come from their bank.

7:38 pm: Enrile wants an explanation from the prosecution. Tupas explains they got it from Umali, and upon meeting they decided to include it in their documents.

7:44 pm: Enrile orders prosecution to explain in 24 hours.

7:45 pm: Estrada asks Tupas: Why, then, did you attach the documents to your subpoena? We did it in good faith, says Tupas. He also points to the media as having information about it, also mentions two newspaper columns.

7:51 pm: Enrile orders Tiongson to bring the document in question – if it exists – or a similar document so that the court can compare it to the document attached to the prosecution request for subpoena.

7:57 pm: Tiongson mentions their branch was audited by representatives from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and says the auditors were able to see records.

7:58 pm: Escudero asks Tiongson to compare the documents to the ones they have at their bank.

8:04 pm: Pangilinan, Osmeña ask clarificatory questions.

8:15 pm: Session adjourned. Trial to resume on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, at 2 pm. – Rappler.com

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