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Source of CJ’s dollars the bigger question — prosecution

But the issue, the prosecution says, is beyond the responsibility of the impeachment court

PROVERBIAL GOLD MINE: Prosecution says Ombudsman Conchita Morales opened many interesting issues

MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution panel knows the source of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s multi-million deposits may no longer be covered by the impeachment trial, but its members are curious.

Prosecution spokesperson Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales opened “many interesting issues.”

Based on the records of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Morales noted heavy transactions during the 2007 and 2010 elections, and the week after Corona’s impeachment.

“It’s a proverbial gold mine ready to be mined by investigative journalists and the curious public. There is a way, I’m sure. There are source accounts. It can be tracked in the banking system,” Angara said.

Another way to do it is to look at the transaction dates, said deputy speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, also a prosecution spokesperson.

“Baka may gustong mag-analyze kung kelan lumabas yung mga mabigigat na desisyon na yun. Pero sa amin, hindi namin tinitingnan kung ito ay may kaugnayan sa desisyon na nilabas ng Korte Suprema,” said Tañada. (Someone may want to analyze [the AMLC records] and try to match these with the dates when big Supreme Court decisions were issued. But we, in the prosecution panel, are not looking into this.)

Angara and Tañada said it is already beyond the responsibility of the impeachment court.

Article 2 of the impeachment complaint accuses Corona of failing to accurately declare his assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). The impeachment court barred the prosecution from presenting evidence on ill-gotten wealth.

Waiting for Corona’s story

However, defense lawyer Dennis Manalo had dismissed the AMLC records on Corona’s dollar deposits as “grossly exaggerated” and “unreliable.” The Chief Justice will take the witness stand on Tuesday, May 22.

The prosecution dared the Chief Justice to sign the waiver allowing the banks to disclose his dollar deposits. Earlier, lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas refused to give a categorical commitment.

“He has to come up with a story on why he did not declare those values in his SALN. Failing to explain why he did not declare it in his SALN from 2002 to 2010 would be a big problem for the chief justice,” said Tañada.

“The defense can disprove the AMLC report, but it must be a more specific denial backed up with documents, backed up by corroborative testimony and not only by the testimony of the Chief Justice. Otherwise the impeachment court may find it self-serving,” added Angara.

Lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr earlier said 5 prosecutors are preparing to cross examine Corona — himself, Rep Rudy Fariñas, and private prosecutors Mario Bautista, JJ Justiniano, and Art Lim.

“I don’t think we will be intimidated. The prosecution team and the prosecutor who will be handling the cross-examination would be motivated by the fact that he wants to bring out the truth. I don’t think he would be intimidated. It would be a very interesting cross-examination,” Tañada said. –

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