Corona gets ‘unlimited courtesy travel’ from PAL

Prosecution this is a conflict-of-interest situation for Corona

MANILA, Philippines – In a move that surprised the prosecution panel, Presiding Officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Tuesday, February 21, prevented Philippine Airlines (PAL) vice president for sales Enrique Javier from taking the witness stand.

Javier was supposed to testify on the “Platinum Card” that PAL gave to Chief Justice Renato Corona. A Platinum Card gives the Chief Justice “unlimited courtesy travel on Philippine Airlines and PAL Express flights on the highest class of service.”

Prosecutor Sherwin Tugna said this is an important evidence for Article 3 of the impeachment complaint, which reads: Respondent committed culpable violations of the Constitution and betrayed public trust by failing to meet and observe the stringent standards on members of judiciary—competence, integrity, probity, and independence.

Tugna said Corona compromised his independence by receiving the Platinum Card No. A752 from PAL, which has pending cases before the Supreme Court.

Tugna said they will file a motion for reconsideration. “After we file our motion for reconsideration, we believe that this will be considered by the senator-judges,” Tugna told Rappler.

Kami ay naniniwala na relevant itong pagtanggap ng mga libreng free travels while a pending case is in the Supreme Court….  This is very strong [evidence],” said Tugna. It will show na ang Punong Mahistrado, habang may pending na kaso ang isang partido, sya ay tumanggap ng libreng byahe,” he added.

Well-used

Based on PAL records, it appears that the Chief Justice used the Platinum Card well. He used it to travel to Guam, Singapore, Honolulu, and Hong Kong.

The Chief Justice used the card for the following travels:

 

Platinum Card A752 Usage

Ticket NBR

Sector

Flight NBR

Flight Date

0792438104732

Manila –Guam

PR 110

April 20, 2011

 

Guam-Manila

PR 111

April 24, 2011

0792438048590

Manila-Singapore

PR 501

April 15, 2011

 

Singapore-Manila

PR 508

April 19, 2011

0792437129241

Manila-Honolulu

PR 100

December 25, 2010

 

Honolulu

PR 101

December 30, 2010

0792437064125

Manila-Hong Kong

PR 318

December 18, 2010

 

Hong Kong-Manila

PR 307

December 21, 2010

 His wife, Ma. Cristina Corona, was also issued Platinum Card No. A753, also in December 2010.

The same document submitted by PAL shows that she used her card 12 times for domestic and international flights. She went to Guam, Singapore, Honolulu, Bangkok, Hongkong, Cagayan De Oro, Bacolod, General Santos, and Cebu.

Despite Enrile’s order, private prosecutor Marlon Manuel was able to divulge these details before the court through a “tender of excluded evidence.”

Corona’s motivation?

Prosecutor Giorgidi Aggabao, who is in charge of Article 3, said Javier’s testimony would have put the story behind Corona’s flip-flopping in the case involving PAL and Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines (FASAP). (See timeline here.)

Corona was was using the platinum card during the time the Supreme Court’s deliberated on and later recalled the ruling that went against PAL’s interests. Had the ruling been implemented, PAL would have been forced to reinstate retrenched employees.

It’s supposed to be the SC’s final ruling. The case is still pending with the SC.

“We were able to prove that there was flip flopping. We would have wanted an explanation for that,” Aggabao said.

“That would have completed the entire picture if we were allowed to explain why he flip flopped. The explanation is simple. He has been accepting gifts from PAL. That would explain why he flip flopped,” he added.

“It’s not only [the Chief Justice], even the wife has a Platinum Card,” he added. “That is a very relevant piece of evidence.”

Privileges

A Platinum Card holder is entitled to the following benefits, according to PAL insiders:

  • Unlimited courtesy travel on PAL and PAL Express flights on the highest class of service
  • Applicable taxes, fees, fuel and insurance surcharges are waived, courtesy of Philippine Airlines
  • Free Baggage Allowance of
    • 4 pieces, at 23 kilos per piece, on transpacific flights [USA and Canada]
    • 20 kilos on other international and domestic flights
    • 20 kilos on PAL Express flights
  • Access to all PAL Mabuhay Lounges worldwide. Also, Platinum Cardholders traveling on PAL flights can bring in four of his traveling companions, regardless of class service, to use the lounge


Conflict of Interest

Tugna said PAL may give any private citizen a Platinum Card “provided there’s no conflict of interest.”

“By that reason, may malalim sila na pagkakaibigan ngayon ng PAL. Natural he will rule in favor of PAL,” Tugna said.

Nevertheless, Enrile’s ruling doesn’t weaken the prosecution’s case, said Prosecutor Giorgidi Aggabao, the prosecutor-in-charge of Article 3.

“As far as John Hay is concerned, we are ready with 2 witnesses. As far as judicial fund is concerned, 2 witness. Vizconde, 2 witnesses,” Aggabao said.

Aggabao said the prosecution panel is also meeting to strategize how they can abbreviate the proceedings.

“That much I can tell you. We are not completing the 8 articles,” Aggabao said. – Rappler.com

 

 

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