#CoronaTrial: Day 19

Day 19: Revelations: bank accounts closed on day Corona was impeached at the House; PSBank branch manager tells court Rep Jorge Banal went to their bank with the questioned Annex A

MANILA, Philippines – Here are the highlights of Day 19 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

1:20 pm: Prosecution hold press conference, tackles debate over “fake or not fake”.


2:23 pm: Session starts. Day 19 begins. Roll call: 22 present.

2:30 pm: Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago grills prosecution anew, and asks clarificatory questions about their PSBank witnesses who appeared to be “hostile.” Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr, on the other hand, refused to treat them as hostile witnesses.

Santiago lectures Tupas about hearsay. “Let me bring to you our happy memories of UP Law. What did you learn about hearsay?”

2:36 pm: Enrile thanks Santiago for “guiding” prosecution.

2:37 pm: PSBank president Pascual Garcia III was set to return to thewitness stand but Sen Sergio Osmeña III requested that the court call PSBank branch manager Annabelle Tiongson first.

Tiongson is then called back to the witness stand.

2:40 pm: Senators begin to pose questions to Tiongson.

2:41 pm: Tiongson says she brought documents that Osmena requested. Tiongson cites details of Corona’s PSBank 5 peso accounts. Osmena asks if Corona has other accounts aside from those that Tiongson enumerated. Tiongson says she doesn’t know.

2:50 pm: Santiago says Tiongson’s testimony is hearsay because she wasn’t the one who entered in the money. But the senator says she can help “lay the foundation.” Santiago then grills Tiongson.

Responding to a question from the senator, Tiongson says she doesn’t know who produces the documents involved. “Perhaps prosecution should know,” Santiago says, laughing.

Santiago asks questions to qualify Tiongson as a witness, and establishes her authority based on court rules. “Counsel, take note,” she says.

3:00 pm: The prosecution then marks as evidence the certifications that Tiongson presented.

3:03 pm: Drilon suggests finishing questions on Corona’s deposits before Annex A, which involves signature cards.

3:07 pm: Sen Alan Peter Cayetano begins questioning Tiongson.

3:13 pm: Enrile suspends trial for “personal reasons”

3:18 pm: Trial resumes.

3:20 pm: PSBank president Pascual Garcia III returns to the witness stand.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas says tells Enrile that they still intend to cross-examine Tiongson. Enrile says Cuevas may still do so even if the witness was already discharged.

3:27 pm: Garcia says Corona has other peso accounts that are not in the original subpoena.

Garcia says PSBank has another peso account under Corona’s name – a peso time deposit account that was opened on July 23, 2010, with P7-M. It was closed on September 1, 2010, he says.

Corona has another peso time deposit account that was opened June 29, 2011, according to Garcia. It had a P17-M and was closed on Dec 12, 2011, Garcia says.

Garcia says Corona has 2 other accounts but he doesn’t have the details

Osmena asks Garcia if it doesn’t seem strange that account was closed less than 6 months after it opened. Garcia says depositors have “different” reasons.

Tupas manifests that Corona was impeached on December 12, 2011. Corona closed 3 accounts on the same date, based on testimonies so far.


3:42 pm: Sen Jinggoy Estrada questions Garcia about Corona’s other bank accounts. “Ayoko mag-isip ng malisya pero nagsusupetsa talaga ako,” he says. (I don’t want to think maliciously but I’m becoming suspicious.)

3:51 pm: Senator-judge Francis Pangilinan asks clarificatory questions; he wants bank to produce documents related to the closing of the accounts.
 
3:52 pm: Garcia discharged; Tiongson returns to witness stand. Defense cross examines her.
 
Cuevas asks Tiongson about her knowledge of who assisted in the opening of Corona’s accounts, said she doesn’t know who they are. Cuevas says if Tiongson did not know people who made the entries in the documets, she would not know accuracy of entries. Her testimony is based on “hearsay” he says.
 
4:00 pm: Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago asks Tiongson some questions about the documents, and says there is an exemption to the hearsay rule. 
 
“All you know is this person must have followed regular procedure,” Santiago says. Tiongson answers affirmatively, and says the people concerned might not be connected to the bank anymore. 
 
Santiago says, her testimony is prima facie accepted. She then lets prosecution do a redirect examination.
 
 
Enrile lets private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio ask redirect, asks about the closing balances of the accounts earlier in question; Tiongson, after Enrile clarified the questions says she doesn’t know. Lacson says she doesn’t know because Garcia already said he has the documents already at the main branch. 
 
4:12 pm: Custodio closes redirect examination. Cuevas says defense has no recross examination questions for the witness.
 
4:13 pm: Senator-judge Sotto, through Senator-judge Loren Legarda, asks for relevance the SALN of the closing balance on December 12, 2011; Custodio answers that it has no diect relevance to the SALN, says it shows the attempt to conceal amounts.
 
4:17 pm: Legarda then proceeds to ask Tiongson a “simple” question: Have you given information – in any form – to any person in the past? She says she did never did.
 
To her knowledge, Legarda asks, did anyone who had access to the vault leak info? No, Tiongson says. When did you have knowledge of leak, Loren asks: Tiongson says she only knew about it when the petition for TRO was made, when she was advised by bank officials. 
 
Legarda also asks about the bank’s internal investigation. Tiongson says Garcia ordered it.
 
 
She later tells court that Quezon City Rep Jorge Banal went to their branch to “ask for help” about a photocopy of a document “similar to Annex A.”
 
Legarda, then Enrile, further questions Tiongson about her statement. Banal, she testifies, asked her about a dollar marking on the photocopy of the document. She said he was holding something similar to their bank’s signature card, which apparently was under the name of the Chief Justice.
 
Tiongson says Banal asked if a marking was a dollar sign. When she said she cannot help him, he just left. Banal’s visit, which Tiongson said was back in January 31, came before the Senate impeachment court issued the subpoena for the bank documents.
 
Enrile asks if Banal approached Tiongson before or after the records were requested by Garcia as per subpoena. Tiongson says it was before Garcia’s request.
 
4:37 pm: Santiago asks how Tiongson knew Banal, says she met him before during the inauguration of a covered court in Xavierville I. The senator-judge asks about the circumstances about the Banal visit. Tiongson also says the QC representative introduced himself as part of the “secretariat,” but refused to divulge other information apart from the document he was trying to verify.
 
Santiago asks Banal to be subpoenaed. Enrile approves motion for subpoena.
 
4:42 pm: Enrile suspends session.
 
5:16 pm: Session resumes. Sotto says some members of court says they would like to invite Banal to court, instead of issuing subpoena for him, since he is a member of the House of Representatives. Senator-judge Joker Arroyo agrees, as part of interparliamentary courtesy. Enrile approves motion, Banal now invited, not subpoenaed, by court to explain the PSBank incident Tiongson was talking about earlier.
 
Arroyo asks: Is Banal a member of the House Committee of Justice? Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas says Banal is an ex-officio member, due to his post as house majority leader.
 
5:19 pm: Estrada asks Tupas: Which came first, the Banal incident or the “small lady” incident? Tupas says he knew only starting February 2, and the document they attached to the subpoena request came from Rep Reynaldo Umali.
 
Tiongson, who is still at the witness stand, then recounts how the Corona accounts were closed back in December 12, 2011. She says manager’s checks were issued, and were released to Mrs Cristina Corona upon certification of the Chief Justice.
 
Clarificatory questions from Pangilinan, Drilon. Drilon requests for subpoena of records of bank accounts, if any, under the Chief Justice’s wife. Enrile asks PSBank officers in court if they would bring it without subpoena, and Garcia says they will bring them in next hearing, without need for subpoena.
 
Drilon also asks that the documents which shows where the money from the closed accounts went. Garcia says he is not sure, and will have to verify.
 
5:34 pm: Senator-judge Pia Cayetano asks court, what’s the relevance of the bank accounts to the Article II, says its beyond its scope. Enrile says that whatever assets of a person should be in SALN, including cash, property, investsments. 
 
5:38 pm: Senator-judge Ferdinand Marcos Jr suggests Banal be invited to explain today; but Arroyo says Banal be given time to prepare. Enrile says Banal be invited on Monday.
 
5:41 pm: Clarificatory question from Pangilinan.
 
5:42 pm: Cuevas manifests. He says the witness is being “bulldozed” to produce accounts even if not specific, says its a fishing expedition. Enrile however says the information came from the witness herself.
Enrile, Cuevas discuss relevance of the December 2011 withdrawals, account closures. 
 
5:55 pm: Tiongson submits the logbooks earlier asked by court. PSBank counsel also tells court, other documents requested are with them in court.
 
5:58 pm: Garcia recalled to witness stand, and Enrile grills him specifically about the transfer of the Corona bank documents to the PSBank main office on January 31, 2012. They later debate on the differences, similarities between annexed documents and originals.
 
6:19 pm: Trial suspended.
 
6:20 pm: Trial resumes. Sotto tells court that the SC Clerk of Court, Deputy has been ordered to bring logbook of raffle for FASAP case, as well as the documents on the petition for TRO of former president. Sotto also announces there will be a caucus for the senator-judges on Monday, February 20, at 11 am.
 
Court then discusses the deposition request by the prosecution. Enrile denies it. “The court wants to hear the witnesses.”
 
6:27 pm: Tupas says Banal is in court, offers his explanation. Session suspended.
 
6:28 pm: Session resumes. Sotto says consensus of senator-judges is to let Banal explain, but questions will be posed to him on Monday.
 
6:29 pm: Banal takes the floor. Banal says he went to PSBank Katipunan on Jan 31. He says the document was left at the letter slot at the gate of his house. He then says he went to the bank and ask for help from Tiongson, but she was firm but polite in turning him down. He says he did not tell his peers in the prosecution about visiting PSBank. “Wala po akong sinabihan kaya di nila alam,” he tells court.
 
6:35 pm: Session adjourned. Trial to resume on Monday, February 20, 2012, at 2 pm. – Rappler.com

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