MANILA, Philippines – The defense counsels of Chief Justice Renato Corona are convinced that the government has used its agencies to conspire against him.
On Wednesday, May 16, defense spokesperson and counsel Rico Quicho told media that it is clear that certain agencies have been involved in the plot, singling out the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Land Registration Authority (LRA).
“Nakikita naman po natin the government machinery is really conspiring against the Chief Justice, I need not say more,” said Quicho. “Tingan niyo nalang po. Binanggit po yung BIR, unang unang ginawa iyan… yung Commission on Audit, ginamit rin po ang LRA (Just check it out yourself. They mentioned the BIR, that was the first, then the Commission on Audit. The LRA was used too).
Quicho was referring to Bureau of Internal Revenue Chief Kim Henares’s testimony on the second week of the trial, wherein she told the court that there were many discrepancies in Corona’s assets according to his statements of assets, liabilities and net-worth (SALN). She said the BIR would lead a separate investigation. Critics questioned why she started the investigation only when the trial began.
The LRA, on the other hand, was responsible for providing the prosecution a list of 45 properties that allegedly belonged to Corona. The list turned out to be inaccurate, as it included properties that were not even under Corona’s names, titles that were already transferred, and parking lots.
Earlier this week, COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza also testified about the movement of millions of dollars in Corona’s bank accounts, including a deposit of US$28.7-M and a withdrawal of about $30-M. Her testimony was later stricken off the record.
Defense doubts documents
The defense has consistently questioned the authenticity of documents presented by government agencies — including the newest one presented by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, alleging Corona’s ownership of 82 bank accounts as reported by the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
He said the prosecution or the witnesses must first verify these documents before presenting them to court, slamming Morales for showing the AMLC document despite authenticating it herself.
“Hindi po kami ang kailangan mag-evaluate niyan. So siguro po ang nagiinvestigate or nagfafile ng complaint sila ang kailang tumilatis muna ng mga dokumento na iyan (We are not the ones who need to evaluate the document. Perhaps it is those people investigating and filing a complaint that need to verify these documents),” said Quicho.
He added that because it has not been authenticated, verified, nor studied, the AMLC report should not be presented immediately.
Morales has said that while she did not verify it herself, the presumption is that it is accurate. She also said she would not jeopardize her clean record of public service only to be used by anyone for revenge.
Henares, Mendoza and Morales were all appointed by President Benigno Aquino III. LRA chief Eulalio Diaz was also appointed by Aquino and was his high school classmate. – Rappler.com