MANILA, Philippines – On Day 32 of the impeachment trial, Land Registration Authority (LRA) administrator Eulalio Diaz—a former classmate of President Aquino—took a beating from senator-judges for supposedly “misleading” the nation that Chief Justice Renato Corona owns a total of 45 properties.
A furious Senator Joker Arroyo told Diaz: “Knowing that this is an impeachment case, how could you make such a document? It’s an official function. You are officially asked and you take a very cavalier attitude.”
Acting on the prosecution’s request before the trial started, the LRA released a list of 45 titles in the name of the Chief Justice and his family. It turned out, many of these titles had been cancelled.
Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Pia Cayetano, and Loren Legarda joined Arroyo in admonishing Diaz.
“It appeared that you were certifying that these properties are registered in the name of the Chief Justice. There was no caveat in the letter. I raise the same concern. This is a very political procedure of national significance. When you issue a certification like this I would think you will exercise extreme caution required of a diligent head of an agency,” said Senator Pia Cayetano.
How was the list of 45 prepared?
Diaz explained that the list came from the LRA’s computerized search engine. The names of the Chief Justice and his relatives were punched in the computer and the list of 45 properties came out.
Diaz admitted during the trial that it was the first time they used the LRA’s search engine. “We have disabled it. This is rather new to us. This is the first time. We have disabled it, pending the finalization of implementing rules,” Diaz said.
The defense panel presented the LRA administrator to show that the Chief Justice doesn’t own all 45 properties. It maintains he only has 5 properties, as stated in his 2010 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
The prosecutors sought – but failed – to block Diaz from testifying, saying there was no basis for his testimony since they only presented 21 titles in their offer of evidence.
One property may consist of several titles. The questioned Marikina property was broken down into 7 titles, for example.
The prosecution was also hit for failing to clean the list before submitting it to the court and for showing the list to the media.
“I don’t want to say but quite frankly you misled the public by initially announcing 45…. I’m talking about carelessness. Remember Annex A, which turned out to be spurious?” said Arroyo.
But the prosecution said it had no intention to mislead the public.
Close to PNoy
“We obviously relied on good faith on the list provided by LRA. We asked LRA to give us a list of the properties in the name of the Chief Justice and his family, that’s the list they gave us,” said prosecution spokesperson Romero “Miro” Quimbo.
Rep Lorenzo Tañada III said the list of 45 remains important because the prosecutors needed to see the chain of titles. If the properties were sold when he was already in government, they should have been declared in earlier SALNs, he said.
It was Estrada who raised during the trial that Diaz is a classmate of President Aquino. Diaz said they were classmates in the Ateneo grade school.
Diaz was also President Aquino’s staff when he was still a senator, according to Tañada.
“Attorney Diaz has been the staff of then Senator Noynoy, if I’m not mistaken even when President Noynoy was a member of the House. Attorney Diaz has been around as a consultant. In terms of competence and capability, I’m sure the President is a better judge on the capabilities of Attorney Diaz,” Tañada said. – Rappler.com