MANILA, Philippines – The family drama reached new heights on Day 40 of the impeachment trial. As Chief Justice Renato Corona teared up on the witness stand, so did the Basas — relatives of his wife Cristina — who were seated in the VIP Gallery just behind him.
The US-based Basas, who accused Corona of using his position in easing them out of the Basa Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI), came home to witness Corona’s testimony. The Basas and the Chief Justice’s family were seated together in the VIP Gallery, along with some members of the prosecution panel and former senators.
Corona got emotional first when he talked about their simple life as a family and recalled how his mother supposedly entrusted her assets to him before her death. He accused the Aquino administration of conspiring to remove him from office.
Ana Basa and her siblings, on the other hand, started crying when Corona villified their late father, Jose Maria Basa III, uncle of Mrs Cristina.
Jose Maria used to hold majority shares of BGEI, a corporation with an asset of at least P34.7 million. His shares were auctioned in 2003 — without the Basas knowing it — to satisfy a P500,000 civil indemnity that a court granted Cristina for “libelous” newspaper ads that he published against Cristina.
The Basas, who only learned about the auction in the course of the trial, decried how the Coronas kept them in the dark. The Chief Justice’s daughter, Carla Corona-Castillo, was the lone bidder in the public auction. (Jose Maria died in 2002.)
Corona tried to turn the tables around. The root of the family dispute, he said, is a property in Libis, Quezon City, which he claimed to be worth P2.5 billion.
In similar fashion, Corona accused Jose Maria of easing out Cristina’s mother Asuncion of the more expensive Libis property. “Ang kampo ni Jose Maria Basa III ang nang-api,” Corona said.
Corona also called Jose Maria a jobless “spoiled brat” who was selling the family properties. He said Asuncion’s mother did not want Jose Maria to also acquire the BGEI lot in Sampaloc.
“If I used my influence, matagal nang tapos ang mga kasong ito. Ang mga Basa ang nagpapatagal ng mga kaso,” said Corona.
In a short statement after the impeachment trial, a crying Carmen Basa — also Jose Maria’s daughter — called Corona “unkind.”
“We are saddened with the development that the name of our good father is being dragged into these proceedings. He’s not here to defend himself. What he said was untrue, unkind, and shows his true character. As chief justice, he should know better,” she said.
“At this point, we’re not gonna go down to his level,” Carmen added.
The Basas said they will speak more after the Chief Justice completes his testimony on Wednesday, May 23.
The family dispute is not over. There’s a pending probate of the will of Rosario Guidote Vda. de Basa–the grandmother of Cristina, Ana, and Carmen. In this case, Cristina contested Jose Maria’s shareholdings in BGEI. She maintained that the majority shares of BGEI remained with Rosario Guidote until she died.
What is not clear is how the auction of BGEI majority shares to Carla Castillo would affect the probate of Rosario Guidote’s will. – Rappler.com