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MANILA, Philippines – Will it be relative versus relative in the Corona trial?
The prosecution is considering whether or not to present relatives of the wife of Chief Justice Renato Corona as its rebuttal witnesses. After defense lawyers announced that Mrs Cristina Corona would testify, prosecutors said they might ask her cousin and aunt to face the impeachment court.
In an interview on GMA News TV, Chief Prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr said the prosecution is discussing if it should ask Mrs Corona’s cousin, Ana Basa, and aunt, Sister Flory Basa, to be rebuttal witnesses.
“It depends on the presentation [of the defense], how they will respond to the issue on the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. We will reserve the rebuttal, if necessary, of Ana Basa and Sister Flory. There is the option for the prosecution,” Tupas said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Ana and Sister Flory Basa made headlines in the past days after speaking up on the long-running feud in the family of Mrs Corona. At the heart of the dispute is the family corporation, Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc (BGEI). Mrs Corona is the administratrix (female administrator of an estate) of BGEI.
Ana Basa is based in the US and only came to the Philippines to visit her aunt Flory. The 90-year-old nun is one of the original stockholders of BGEI.
Sister Flory Basa confirmed the account that Ana Basa gave the Inquirer.
The family dispute was brought up in the impeachment trial, with Corona saying he got a loan of P11-M from the company that he used to pay some of his properties. Corona declared this as a liability in his 2003 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
The Chief Justice also said that the P32.6-M he withdrew from the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) on the day he was impeached, Dec 12, 2011, was the money of BGEI.
Ana Basa, however, told the Inquirer that her side of the family was kept in the dark about the loan and the money in PSBank, and only found out about these during the impeachment trial.
“We were shocked. We saw it in his SALN. How can they make a cash advance? Shouldn’t they get some sort of a board resolution to allow the cash advance?”
Basa added, “I don’t know why [the P32.6 million] is even under Renato Corona’s name because it should have been deposited under BGEI’s account.”
‘We are ready for Mrs Corona’
Tupas also welcomed the decision of the defense team to present Mrs Corona as witness.
“Aside from the Chief Justice, his wife, Mrs Ma Cristina Corona would be a substantial witness because the others would not have personal knowledge of what really happened.”
“If Mrs Corona surfaces and takes the witness stand, the prosecution is ready. We have questions and we will be ready for the cross-examination.”
Tupas said the prosecution is not insisting that the Chief Justice testifies but believes he would be the best person to explain the issues.
Subpoena for lawmakers unlikely
Tupas also reacted to the list of witnesses submitted by the defense, which includes lawmakers who did not sign the impeachment complaint.
Tupas said it was unlikely the Senate will subpoena himself, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, Cavite Rep Crispin Remulla, Batangas Rep Hermilando Mandanas, and Navotas Rep Tobias Tiangco to testify on the verification of the impeachment complaint.
Remulla, Mandanas and Tiangco did not sign the impeachment complaint, saying they did not have time to read it. Tupas was one of those who drafted the complaint, while Belmonte supported the impeachment of Corona.
“I think the Senate has been very, very consistent. When it comes to the justices of the Supreme Court, inter-branch courtesy [was observed]. When it comes to congressmen, [there’s] interparliamentary courtesy.”
“What for? What’s the purpose of our testimony, we’re not the ones on trial,” Tupas added.
Tupas, however, said it would be another matter if the lawmakers who did not sign the impeachment complaint would volunteer to testify. – Rappler.com