MANILA, Philippines – A manager reiterated on Monday, February 13, that the alleged bank documents of Chief Justice Renato Corona that the prosecution submitted to the impeachment court are “fake.” The prosecution insisted, however, that they are authentic.
Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson testified that the documents on Corona’s PSBank peso accounts that were attached to the prosecution’s supplemental request for subpoena, and which the impeachment court had granted, are not copies of the original.
PSBank president Pascual Garcia III made the same declaration last week.
But the prosecution stands by its documents. “I stand by my story and I do believe it is authentic,” Prosecutor Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who claimed to have been the recipient of the said documents from an undentified “small lady,” told Rappler in a text message. “We will soon find out who’s telling the truth. Truth will set us free.”
“The accounts had been verified to be correct. Eksakto,” Umali said in a follow up phone interview.
Prosecutors avoided the media after the trial on Monday.
“Hindi mo kayang pekehin yun…for us to be able to know what these accounts are. The truth will set us free. They should bring the signature cards,” Umali added. Umali suggested it is possible that the wrong signature cards may have been compared.
The bank documents show that the Chief Justice had one PSBank dollar account opened with US$700,000 or about P30-M. The documents were attached to the prosecution panel’s supplemental request to open Corona’s bank accounts. It was a response to Presiding Officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s order to the prosecution to specify the bank account numbers.
The bank documents were supposedly given to Umali by an anonymous source, or what he referred to in last week’s trial as a “small lady.” He told the court he received it from her on February 2, possibly in the Senate premises, just in time to meet Enrile’s order to specify accounts.
The supplemental request for subpoena reads: “While it cannot vouch for the authenticity of said documents, the prosecution believes that it is its duty to submit the documents to this Honorable impeachment court, as they may have a bearing on the Court’s resolution of the pending request for subpoena.”
Prosecution spokesperson Juan Edgardo Angara said it’s “precisely the reaons for the subpoena: to verify the information.”
Last week, PSBank President Pascual Garcia III testified on the authenticity of all 10 bank account numbers specified by the prosecution panel in its request to subpoena Corona’s bank accounts.
Based on his 5 peso accounts presented by Garcia, Corona had nearly P20-million balance in at least 2 accounts as of December 31, 2010. The prosecution noted that Corona only declared for the same year P3.5-million worth of “cash and investments.”
Garcia also confirmed that the other account numbers specified in the subpoena are dollar accounts. Garcia earned the ire of the senators when he refused to open Corona’s dollar accounts.
PSBank sought for the Supreme Court’s intervention. They got a TRO, which the Senate court decided on Monday to respect.
Asked who possibly leaked the bank documents, Tiongson mentioned 3 possible camps that could have seen documents: 1) Custodians in the PSBank Katipunan branch, 2) PSBank head office, which has copies of all signature cards and documents, and 3) the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which audited her branch in November 2010.
On further questioning, Tiongson said she is not certain if it’s the BSP or the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Earlier in the trial, defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said they have “reliable informatio” that lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. is one of the valued clients of the PSBank branch that Tiongson manages.
Cuevas didn’t elaborate but he seemed to suggest that Tupas was provided the account numbers by his contacts in the branch.
Rappler asked Tupas via a text message if he has accounts with PSBank Katipunan. He replied: “No. I do not have.”
Senator-jurors appeared flustered upon learning that the prosecution’s bank documents were fake. In the end, Enrile ordered the prosecution to explain in 24 hours.
Enrile immediately asked lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. to explain.
“The only explanation I can make is how we got the documents,” Tupas told the court. “After the document was given to me, I conferred with Congressman Abaya and called a lawyer. In that meeting, we decided to attach it to our supplemental request.”
“We were in good faith when we attached it,” Tupas said adding that the media had the documents as well.
“It seems the media itself also has the info,” Tupas said referring to columns in newspapers Philippine Daily Inquirer and Malaya, which were also attached in the supplemental request.
Enrile said the CCTV does not show anybody meeting with Umali in the Senate building.
“Mr. Counsel, mukha yatang mahihirapan paniwalaan ang script ninyo,” added Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
Defense counsel Tranquil Salvador III scored the prosecution for using fake documents.
“Ang ganyang ebidensya ay inadmissible. Sa rule of law, walang halaga. Anong mangyayari sa ebidensyang ito? Nasayan ang mga araw,” Salvador said in a press conference.
Tiongson only testified on Corona’s peso accounts. Like Garcia, she refused to discuss the dollar accounts. – Rappler.com