Corona won’t change his mind – defense

Debunking speculations, defense counsels say the Chief Justice will testify and face his accusers

MANILA, Philippines – Defense spokesperson Tranquil Salvador III assured the public on Friday, May 11, that Chief Justice Renato Corona will not back out from the witness stand.

“We’ve been crystal clear on this matter, that…the Chief Justice will face his accusers. We did not say that he could change his mind,” Salvador told a press conference.

“We want a certain level of credibility also when we say something,” added Salvador.

Salvador lamented how the prosecution has cast doubt on Corona’s willingness to testify. “I was expecting more of jubilation…. As it appears, parang hanggang ngayon may duda pa rin sila sa amin,” said Salvador.

Jose Manuel Diokno, De La Salle College of Law Dean, considers Corona’s impending testimony as “legal suicide.” But he warned that it could also be a “ploy” on the part of the defense to extract information it needs to seek another relief from the Supreme Court.

On #TalkThursday with Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, Diokno said the defense team could use the Ombudsman’s testimony to seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the SC that could achieve for Corona two things:

1.) stop the impeachment court from allowing the presentation of evidence on foreign currency deposits

2.) stop the Ombudsman from using it as evidence in her own probe on Corona

Last February, the SC issued a TRO barring the impeachment court from compelling the disclosure of Corona’s dollar accounts in the Philippine Savings Bank. Diokno said the defense can file a supplemental petition and ask the SC to expand the coverage of its TRO to include the Ombudsman’s evidence.

Surprise move

The defense told the court on Tuesday, May 8, that they would put Corona on the witness stand. It was a surprise move. Defense lawyers previously said they saw no need for him to testify.

It’s the same with their move to subpoena Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. On Monday, May 7, defense lawyers issued strong statements against admitting any evidence from the Ombudsman. (Read: CJ to block evidence from Ombudsman)

Yet, the following day they asked the impeachment court to issue her a subpoena.

Salvador said they decided to discuss Corona’s alleged US$10-million deposits because the senators appeared interested to know more about the allegations. He maintained that the alleged dollar deposits do not exist.

Senator-prosecutors?

Salvador also dared the House prosecutors to conduct the cross-examination themselves. “Maganda kung yung House prosecutors. It would be best if they ask the questions,” he said.

The defense admitted it’s wary of the senators’ questions. The defense and the prosecution are bound by the rules of court, but senator-jurors have been liberally allowed to ask their questions.

Defense spokesperson Karen Jimeno said this was one of their concerns when they were deciding on presenting Corona as a witness.

“We should be ready to face that reality. We believe in the continuous assurance of the Senate President that they will respect the Chief Justice. We are clinging to that,” said Salvador. – Rappler.com

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