MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona is not resigning and not giving up, his defense lawyers said Tuesday, May 15, dismissing talk that he should already quit following revelations against him by the Ombudsman.
“Tuloy po ang laban. Wala itong atrasan,” Rico Quicho, one of Corona’s spokespersons, told reporters. (We are pursuing the fight. There’s no backing out.)
The Chief Justice is prepared to face the verdict of the impeachment court, Quicho said.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales took the witness stand for the second day on Tuesday, May 15, and insisted on the powers of her office to investigate officials, including impeachable ones such as the Chief Justice.
Earlier in the day, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr said that based on the Ombudsman’s report that he received last Friday, May 11, he can very well say that “this is the end game.”
The Ombudsman has said that based on records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Corona kept 82 dollar accounts in a span of 8 years. While Morales said it is difficult to get the ending balances, she concluded that there is at least US$12-million in fresh deposits.
The Chief Justice however described this as a “lantern of lies.”
Asked to comment on Corona’s reaction, Morales said the documents were “delivered” to her office by no less than the council’s executive director, Vic Aquino.
The impeachment court is expected to wrap up its proceedings next week to reach its self-imposed May 31 deadline of finishing the trial, which is now on its 4th month.
CJ will testify
Defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador III said the Ombudsman’s powerpoint presentation was “circuitous.” He said they were surprised because they were expecting total balances of Corona’s alleged dollar accounts. He said it’s difficult to ask Morales questions about it because only the AMLC can authenticate the bank transaction records.
Echoing the concerns of some senators, the defense panel raised questions on the regularity of AMLC’s move to submit Corona’s alleged transaction records without a court order.
Salvador rejected commentaries that the AMLC records would secure Corona’s conviction.
“With the Chief Justice sitting on the stand and defending himself, that may be able to sway some senator-judges. For as long as there is yet no verdict, anything is impossible,” Salvador said.
“His appearance will be material to the outcome of the case,” he added.
The defense panel cannot say when Corona will take the witness stand, however. They have other witnesses scheduled, including Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. – Rappler.com