MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona should take the witness stand at the impeachment court in order to explain his wealth to the public.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda explained that as the author of his own SALN [Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth], Corona is the best person to explain the contents of his disclosure documents.
Nevertheless, Lacierda doubts that the chief justice will do so, noting potential risks. In a news briefing on Wednesday, March 7, Lacierda said that he shares the position taken by former Justice Serafin Cuevas, Corona’s lead counsel, that it would be “damaging” for the Chief Justice to testify in his own trial.
“Based on what has been uncovered so far; based on the limitations provided for what he has earned; based on the possible defenses that he will raise, it’s going to be hard for the Chief Justice to explain his position,” Lacierda said.
“I think if he testifies, as Justice Cuevas said…it’s going to be problematic for him…..[He would] dig himself deeper into a hole,” he said.
Echoing Cuevas, Lacierda said “it would be damaging for Chief Justice Corona to testify because they would have no control over the questions that can be posed by the Senator-Judges [who] are not limited by the rules on procedure unlike the prosecution lawyers which will be bound by the questions asked during direct.”
On Corona’s pronouncements against fellow Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Lacierda challenged Corona to “lift the judicial privilege and let Justice Sereno speak out and see if she is lying.”
“Let the justices speak out and see who’s telling the truth. The only way that truth can come out is if you let Justice Sereno speak out and waive your judicial privilege. And let’s see,” he said.
Lacierda said that the media interviews that Corona had granted that day didn’t reveal anything “substantial” and is “all spin.”
On Corona’s belief that he would be acquitted and that the judiciary would be strengthened by his acquittal, Lacierda said that before Corona can even think about that, he should first explain his dollar deposits and his “wealth.”
“Truth does not require a judicial forum. Truth does not require a court before it is to be revealed. He can come out anytime. That due time is long overdue.
He could have come out today in your TV station and said these are my dollar deposits, I can explain it to you right now. And what did he say? I will explain it then,” he said.
Lacierda added, “If you believe in the truth and you believe that you have been forthright and honest then show it anytime. It does not require a formal setting like a court.”
Message to Miriam
Lacierda also urged Sen. Miriam Santiago to be “fair” to the House prosecutors and to impart her “words of wisdom” as well to the defense lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona at the latter’s impeachment trial.
Lacierda said that in his more than 20 years of practice as a lawyer, he had never seen a judge use “cuss words” in addressing lawyers.
“I hope that she will also provide her words of wisdom to the other side as she sees fit,” Lacierda said.
He added, “We would expect her to be fair in her lectures as well to the other side if she feels that the defense is also committing–based on her appreciation of the conduct of the trial–certain mistakes which she felt was being committed by…the prosecution.” – Rappler.com