MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) More than four months since the impeachment trial began, Chief Justice Renato Corona will finally take the witness stand on Tuesday, May 22.
He is expected to explain the $12-million in “fresh deposits” that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) disclosed in its report to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. In her testimony before the impeachment court, Morales also disclosed that in a span of 8 years, Corona had 82 dollar accounts in at least 5 local banks.
On Tuesday, May 15, his lawyers said the Chief Justice was not resigning or giving up, despite declarations that the game was over, following disclosures by Morales. Lawyer-analysts like Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña said Morales’s testimony was a game changer.
“Tuloy po ang laban. Wala itong atrasan (We are pursuing the fight. There’s no backing out),” one of Corona’s spokespersons, Rico Quico, told reporters.
Quicho said Corona, who had dismissed Morales’s testimony as a “lantern of lies,” is prepared to face the verdict of the impeachment court.
But, according to La Viña, the bar the Chief Justice must hurdle to be acquitted is “much higher now than before.”
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile initially instructed the defense to present Corona on Monday, when the trial is expected to resume, but defense counsel Judd Roy asked for more time to prepare the Chief Justice.
Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said the defense team will no longer call any other witnesses; Corona will be their last witness.
He asked the court instead to give them until Tuesday to present Corona so they will have enough time to go over the AMLC report that Morales presented to the court via a PowerPoint presentation. Enrile agreed.
“So that you would not think we are biased against him, granted. But there will be no more postponement,” Enrile said.
He also directed the Senate secretariat to furnish both the defense and the prosecution soft copies of the PowerPoint presentation.
Corona is being accused of failing to disclose in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth his multimillion-peso bank accounts and real estate properties. – Rappler.com