Evidence vs Corona ‘irrelevant, misleading’

Natashya Gutierrez
Chief Justice Renato Corona's counsels argued that most of the evidence presented were irrelevant, and relate to allegations on ill-gotten wealth

MANILA, Philippines – The counsels of Chief Justice Renato Corona called a bulk of the evidence submitted by the prosecution to the impeachment court “irrelevant, immaterial and misleading.”

In comments they submitted to the court, Corona’s counsels rejected all prosecution evidence that proves Corona’s alleged “ill-gotten wealth,” saying Article 2 of the impeachment complaint only cites his failure to disclose his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

The defense insisted that evidence related to Article 2.4 of the complaint, which deals with Corona’s alleged accumulation of ill-gotten wealth, should be rejected since the impeachment court itself ruled to drop that charge.

While Corona’s counsels verified the authenticity of the documents submitted by the prosecution, they cited the latter’s poorly crafted complaint in objecting to the majority of the evidence it presented.

No to SALNs

The defense rejected Corona’s own SALNs from 2002 to 2010 as evidence, saying these cannot prove that Corona “failed to disclose to the public his SALN as required by the Constitution and the law.”

The defense argued that the SALNs in fact prove the opposite – that he indeed filed his SALNs with the Supreme Court Clerk of Court.

Counsels also objected to the purpose the evidence was offered, saying the SALNs cannot be used to prove inaccuracies because Article 2 does not include such a charge.

They pointed out that Enriqueta Vidal, the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court, testified in court that Corona submitted his SALNs from 2002-2010, thus proving Corona had submitted his SALNs in accordance with the law.

As for the SALN’s accessibility to the public, the defense maintained it cannot be blamed on Corona but on a 1989 Supreme Court resolution  which limits the release of these documents to the public.

Keep Cristina out

The defense also emphasized that Cristina Corona’s failure to declare her assets in Corona’s SALNs is irrelevant and misleading as the SALNs in question are those of her husband’s and not hers.

They likewise rejected the admission of Corona’s 1992-2002 SALNs, saying he was not yet working in the Supreme Court during those years.

The prosecution considers Article 2, which focuses on the discrepancies and non-disclosure of Corona’s assers, as its strongest case.

Documents pertaining to Corona’s Bellagio, Burgundy, Bonifacio Ridge and Xavierville properties, including official receipts, deed of sales and buyer’s information sheets to name a few, were also objected to by the defense.

They maintained the titles were accurately and truthfully declared in Corona’s SALNs.

His counsels argued as well that questions about these properties fall under Article 2.4 and should thus be junked.

The McKinley property, the document states, should likewise be dropped as it belongs to his daughter Charina Corona, according to the defense.

The same was argued regarding other lots, which had, according to the document, been sold and was therefore no longer owned by the Chief Justice. Buyers included their daughter Carla Castillo, a certain Demetrio Vicente, and other individuals.

Corona’s lawyers also objected to documents submitted by Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, calling them “illegal” based on sections 270 and 278 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC). These rules prohibit the “divulgence of confidential information regarding the business, income, or estate of any taxpayer…acquired by him in the discharge of his official duties.”

Bank accounts inadmissible

The defense also slammed evidence relating to the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc., saying the prosecution’s attempt to establish Corona’s unexplained wealth is related to Article 2.4

They also opposed documents regarding the labor dispute between the Philippine Airlines and its pilots, which is pending with the SC.

Corona’s counsels reiterated their motion to suppress “illegal” evidence, particularly Corona’s Philippine Savings Bank records and accounts. They insisted that documents illegally obtained cannot be admitted for evidence.

But a decision by senator-judges Tuesday, March 6, already accepted these accounts as evidence.

As for Corona’s Bank of the Philippine Islands accounts, his counsels argued the evidence attempted to prove the discharged ill-gotten wealth charges.

Evidence relating to Article 7 of the complaint and the issuance of the temporary restraining order by the Supreme Court favoring former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was also dismissed, with Corona citing judicial privilege.

The defense said the documents did not prove the TRO was rushed or that Corona committed anything “not in accord with the agreements reached.” Corona’s lawyers said that the issuance of the TRO was not rushed as confirmed by the dissenting opinion of Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

Even the compact disks of SC spokesperson Midas Marquez’s televised press conferences were rejected on the basis that witnesses, specifically the cameramen of ABS-CBN, admitted not having personal knowledge of their contents.

Senator-judges are expected to reach a final verdict on the prosecution’s offer of evidence next week. – Rappler.com