MANILA, Philippines – Prosecution spokesperson Miro Quimbo admitted Friday, May 25, that they had a “heated and vibrant debate” on whether or not to cross-examine Chief Justice Renato Corona.
“But I think what eventually turned the tide was his physical condition,” Quimbo said.
For two trial days this week, the Senate Court liberally allowed the Chief Justice to narrate his testimony uninterrupted for the most time.
The prosecution said it was highly irregular. Lead private prosecutor Mario Bautista raised several objections during his testimony on Tuesday, May 22.
Nevertheless, the prosecution decided not to cross-examine Corona Friday because his testimony “lacked evidentiary value.” The decision surprised not a few. Sen Francis Escudero himself chided the prosecution panel for refusing to grill Corona when it had been pushing for his testimony all along.
The panel said it did not need to press the case any further. “We saw that his testimony was absolutely self-seving,” Quimbo explained. “There is no evidentiary value. He’s not presented any single document. Whether those dollars were accumulated in the ‘60s when he was just a student or in the 70s. How come there are deposit transactions?” Quimbo said.
“With that in mind, we made a decision that we should not lengthen it any further,” he said.
Rep Sonny Angara, also a prosecution spokesperson, said Corona’s testimony Tuesday, May 22, and Friday cemented their case.
Corona admitted that he has peso and dollar deposits totaling to P183 million. He said he did not need to declare them in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth because there the peso deposits are “co-mingled” funds and the dollars are protected by the law on secrecy of foreign deposits.
Angara said this reinforced the prosecution’s contention that he lied in his SALN when he excluded a huge chunk of his assets to avoid public scrutiny.
He also called Corona’s interpretation of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act “a scoundrel’s interpretation of the law. How come no one is condemning the Chief Justice for that?”
“Does he think the public is that gullible? He is the Chief Justice, he must be the best person to know the law,” Angara added.
Angara said the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standard for Public Officials and Employees mandate government officials to declare all their assets and liabilities to ensure that they do not enrich themselves while in office. – Rappler.com
Click on the links below for more of Rappler’s special coverage of the Corona trial.