Defense shrugs off Sister Flory Basa’s claims

Rappler.com
Karen Jimeno says Sister Flory and the Basas' allegations against the Chief Justice do not relate to the trial at hand

WE'RE FAMILY. Sister Flory Basa said despite the dispute over property, she still treats Cristina Corona as family. Photo grab from ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines – It is irrelevant.

This is the defense’s reaction to the statements of Sister Flory Basa, Cristina Corona’s aunt, on a television interview with ABS-CBN.

In the interview, Sister Flory denied the defense’s claims that Mrs Corona was given power through a board meeting to be the administratix of the family company, Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc (BGEI). She was also surprised that Mrs Corona claimed majority ownership of the corporation.

Defense spokesperson Karen Jimeno responded to Sister Flory’s claims through an interview on ANC.

Jimeno dismissed her statements as having been caused by a bitter family feud.

“There’s an ongoing intra-corporate controversy involving the Basa-Guidote corporation that involved the Basa-Guidote family,” she said. “Hindi malayo na may samaan ng loob diyan (Its not unthinkable that there are hurt feelings involved).”

BGEI was first introduced to the public when Corona’s 2003 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth was brought up in the impeachment court. It showed a loan of P11-M that Corona allegedly borrowed from the company.

It came up yet again later in the trial when bank witnesses testified that Corona closed 3 bank accounts the day he was impeached. The accounts had ending balances of P32.6-M. Corona said the money was only kept under his name, but actually belonged to BGEI.

The Basas maintain they did not know about the loan or the money in Corona’s accounts until the trial.

Separate issue

Jimeno emphasized that the allegations now surfacing against Mrs Corona should not affect the impeachment case against her husband, Chief Justice Renato Corona.

She insisted that the intra-corporate conflict involving Mrs Corona’s family does not fall within the scope of the impeachment complaint.

According to Jimeno, whether Mrs Corona was indeed assigned as administratix or not, and whether or not it was right that BGEI’s money was kept in a bank account under the Chief Justice’s name, has no relevance to the case at hand.

“This is an impeachment case. We have the articles of impeachment which only involves Chief Justice Corona,” she said. “There’s an ongoing case where they can flesh this out.”

Jimeno also reacted to Sister Flory’s statements reiterating claims made by her niece Ana Basa, who alleged that Corona had used his powers as Chief Justice to harass the family. Jimeno said she did not see the basis of harassment complaints against the Basas, and if evidence and track record were to be believed, it was the Basas who appeared to have harassed Mrs Corona.

The defense spokesperson pointed to the 2004 libel case filed by Mrs Corona against her family, which she won.

Jimeno likewise referred to the case as further evidence that the feud between the family had been ongoing for a while, even before Corona was appointed as Chief Justice.

Be objective

While the feud and the accusations thrown against the Corona couple may not be on the impeachment complaint, Jimeno acknowledged that the public’s perception of the Chief Justice could very well change.

She urged the public and the senator-judges to remain objective and follow the rules of law when judging Corona.

Jimeno also reminded viewers that BGEI was only relevant insofar as Article 2 is concerned, explaining the loan listed in Corona’s SALN. Mrs. Corona will testify about this.

While the prosecution has accused Corona of failing to disclose assets in his SALNs, Jimeno said that if the P32.6-M is indeed owned by BGEI, then it only explains why it does not appear in the Chief Justice’s SALNs.

Saying Corona tried to hide BGEI’s money from the Basas by putting it under his name, however, is an advance and unfair interpretation, she said.

No point in predicting future

Jimeno said that in the event Corona is acquitted of the current charges, and a future impeachment case would include the issues raised by the Basas, it is important to ask whether the allegations are even impeachable offenses or not.

When asked about the possibility of Sister Flory testifying in court as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution, Jimeno said it was too early to comment.

“It’s hard to preempt the event of a rebuttal. We still dont know what [Mrs Corona] will testify on, so what will the prosecutipn rebut?” she asked. – Rappler.com