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MANILA, Philippines – Now that the verdict is out, what happens to the evidence submitted for and against former Chief Justice Renato Corona?
Senators said the Senate will archive the evidence but it can also be used to file civil and criminal cases against Corona now that he is no longer in public office.
In a text message, Sen Francis Pangilinan told Rappler, “My sense is that the Ombudsman should request for a copy should she see the need for it.”
Sen Franklin Drilon said the Senate can only release the documents upon a request.
“There is no precedent but I don’t think the impeachment court will automatically send evidence to the Ombudsman. [The] Ombudsman has to request [it]. Documents are public record.”
In its formal offer of evidence, the prosecution submitted a 169-page document listing its evidence for Articles 2, 3 and 7 of the impeachment complaint. The defense also listed its evidence in a 74-page summary submitted to the Senate.
Voting 20-3, the Senate convicted Corona of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution on Tuesday, May 29. (Read: #CoronaTrial: How the senators voted)
‘Different story after conviction’
In her testimony before the impeachment court, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales revealed that she has already requested for Corona’s bank records and Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth from the Senate even before the end of the impeachment trial.
Senate Legal Counsel and impeachment court spokesperson Valentina Cruz told Rappler that the Senate rejected the request of the Ombudsman in late February or early March because the documents have yet to be offered as evidence then.
“Now that there’s a conviction, it’s a different story,” said Cruz.
Cruz said the Ombudsman can request for copies of the evidence, and it will be released if approved by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
“It will depend if the Ombudsman requests and the Senate President will grant [it]. We cannot release it unilaterally. We just wait for a request.”
Cruz said unlike a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report, the Senate will not automatically give the evidence to the Ombudsman.
“The Blue Ribbon Committee files reports before the Ombudsman because it recommends further investigation and the filing of cases. In the impeachment trial, it’s not necessary for the Senate to submit the evidence to the Ombudsman.”
Requests for Corona waiver
Cruz revealed that this early, there have already been requests for copies of the waiver that Corona submitted to the Senate. She refused to divulge who made the requests but said two groups asked for a copy.
In the continuation of his testimony last Friday, May 25, Corona submitted an unconditional waiver allowing government agencies to look into his bank records.
The prosecution and the defense, however, did not use the waiver to open Corona’s bank accounts.
Corona’s waiver sparked calls for public officials to similarly sign waivers for transparency. – Rappler.com