Mrs. Corona will testify, says defense

Natashya Gutierrez
[UPDATED] Cristina Corona is expected to explain the source of their wealth: the disputed Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc

MANILA, Philippines – Cristina Corona will testify at the the impeachment trial of her husband, Chief Justice Renato Corona.

In an interview with defense counsel Ramon Esguerra Wednesday, March 7, Esguerra said Mrs Corona will take the stand to explain the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) issue, more specifically the P11-M loan that appears in Corona’s 2003 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) that they allegedly borrowed from the company.

BGEI is owned by the family of Mrs Corona.

Airing her side

The decision for Mrs Corona to testify was made Tuesday night, March 6, in the presence of her Basa-Guidote lawyer, as well as the Chief Justice and his defense counsels, according to Esguerra.

Lawyers also suggested to Mrs Corona that she go public and explain her side regarding the Basa-Guidote issue, especially after her cousin, Ana Basa, told the Inquirer about details of their bitter family feud dating back to 1989.

Mrs Corona may speak to the media in detail in the next few days.

In a report by the Inquirer on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ana Basa accused Corona of using his powers to oppress family members and gain control of the corporation.

Last March 2, the Basa family asked a Manila court to remove Mrs Corona as administratix of the BGEI and replace her with a public accountant. The family said she has abused her powers by using BGEI money to buy properties for her and her husband. Read the full story here.

BGEI not on CJ’s SALNs

According to prosecution witness Pascual Garcia III, president of the Philippine Savings Bank, and Katipunan PS Bank manager Annabelle Tiongson, Corona closed 3 peso accounts on the day he was impeached, Dec. 12, 2011.

The 3 accounts had a closing total of P36-7-M, according to records submitted to the impeachment court.

Defense counsels have said the money was owned by BGEI, and was withdrawn to avoid suspicion it belonged to him in the event that his accounts are looked at during the trial.

They also said BGEI is largely owned by Mrs. Corona, but it was not declared in Corona’s 2010 SALN.

Corona declared P3.5-M in “cash and investments” in his SALN that year despite Rule 7 under the Code of Conduct for public officials, stating that public disclosure commands public officials, including their spouses, to declare everything in the officials’ SALNs.

Asked about this, Esguerra had this to say: Because of uncertainties on whether the money belonged at the time to Mrs Corona or BGEI, the Corona couple decided not to declare it in his SALN. – Rappler.com

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