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Prosecution: 45 properties? That’s not in complaint

Prosecutors argue that nowhere in the impeachment complaint did they claim that Corona owns 45 properties.
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MANILA, Philippines – Before the start of the impeachment trial, the prosecution announced in a press conference that Chief Justice Renato Corona allegedly has 45 properties. Now, the panel is saying the charge is not included in the impeachment complaint.

The prosecution is seeking to block a testimony of a defense witness that will disprove that Corona owns 45 properties. Corona’s lawyers want to present this week Land Registration Authority Administrator (LRA) Eulalio Diaz III.

Yet in a motion to oppose the request for a subpoena filed last Thursday, March 15, the prosecution argued that the testimony of Diaz would be irrelevant to Article 2 of the impeachment complaint.

“An examination of Article II of the Verified Complaint clearly shows that there was no categorical statement alleging that Respondent Corona owned 45 properties,” the prosecutors wrote in the motion.

They added, “Instead of wasting the time of this Honorable Court, respondent should present other relevant and material evidence to controvert the evidence already adduced by the prosecution.”

Article 2 accuses Corona of failing to disclose his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), and failing to declare some of his properties.

The prosecution also stressed that the issue regarding Corona’s alleged properties was already resolved, when senator-judges asked for clarification about these on several occasions during the trial.

From 45, the prosecution cut down the list to 21. Chief Prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. made the clarification in response to questions from Senators Francis Escudero and Jinggoy Estrada.

In the motion, the prosecution stated, “The fact that the properties owned by Respondent Corona are 21 and not 45 does not justify his non-inclusion or under-declaration of values of these properties in his [SALN].”

Senator-judges have criticized the prosecution for making the announcement on the alleged 45 properties, saying even they were left confused.

The prosecution said the list of 45 properties came from the LRA but it later on discovered that some of the properties were already cancelled. It has since stuck to its allegation that Corona owns 21 properties. (For more on the Corona properties, read this.)

In its offer of evidence after resting its case, the prosecution made no mention of the 45 properties.

Refuting a ‘malicious claim’

For Corona’s lawyers, they are only responding to the prosecution’s “malicious claim.”

In its request for a subpoena for Diaz, the defense asked the impeachment court to order him to bring his letter addressed to Tupas enumerating the 45 properties, and Tupas’ letter requesting the information.

“In order to refute this malicious claim and to show that the 45 titles would show cancelled titles or titles named under different owners, CJ Corona respectfully requests that this Honorable Impeachment Court issue a subpoena … to Atty Diaz.”

Corona has claimed that he only owns 5 properties.

Diaz is expected to testify when the impeachment trial resumes on Monday, March 19, at 2pm. – Rappler.com