#CoronaTrial: Day 4

KD Suarez
Day 4: Continuation of presentation of prosecution witnesses; land, condominium titles also entered as evidence

MANILA, Philippines – Here are the highlights of Day 4 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Around 10 am: Prosecution evidence marked and entered into record prior to start of impeachment court trial.

Around 1 pm: Senate security, police cordon off an area outside the Senate building, as a suspicious box is found. It is later found out to contain broadcast equipment cables.

2:03 pm: Session begins. At least 13 senator-judges present at roll call.

2:08 pm: Presentation of witness continues. Prosecution says they will present Taguig City register of deeds. But, as he is not yet inside session hall, Sen Juan Ponce-Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, suspends session temporarily.

2:13 pm: Session resumes. Witness is Taguig-Pateros Register of Deeds Randy Rutaquio. Rep Elpidio Barzaga conducts direct examination.

4TH DAY. First witness is Taguig-Pateros Register of Deeds Randy Rutaquio.

2:17 pm: Rutaquio presents the subpoenaed documents to the impeachment court. Among the documents presented is a title for a condominium unit allegedly owned by Chief Justice Corona.

2:27 pm: Enrile asks the prosecution to properly present their evidence, to avoid delaying the trial. Trial suspended as documents are put in order to speed up trial.

2:32 pm: Session resumes, tackles documents pertaining to properties allegedly owned by the Coronas. Enrile then asks Rutaquio about the process of title registration in the Land Registration Authority (LRA). He also says he brought the documents.

3:02 pm: Cross-examination of Rutaquio by Cuevas. Cuevas asks Rutaquio about his level of personal knowledge in the processing of documents.

Cuevas then asks why the documents are being presented as evidence, saying the deeds are not connected to Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment.

He says the presentation of the documents and Rutaquio’s testimony is no longer about the SALN, but the alleged illegal acquisition of wealth by the Chief Justice. “There is no valid allegation of ill-gotten wealth, the allegation is mere suspicion!”

Enrile says that if the properties are in the SALN, then the documents and the testimony are connected to the issue. He allows Rutaquio to answer the questions. Despite this, the defense insists it is not relevant to the case.

3:21 pm: Barzaga, meanwhile, defends the prosecution’s move, saying ill-gotten wealth is part of the allegations in the impeachment complaint. He even says the Chief Justice himself responded to the charge of ill-gotten wealth in his reply to the impeachment complaint.

3:33 pm: Senator-Judge Alan Peter Cayetano manifests, asks the prosecution to clarify their allegations as stated in Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment. He also asks if the accusation in Article 2 still has basis, since the SALNs are now disclosed to the public.

He also questions what the prosecution is really charging the Chief Justice with. He asks, how can you (the prosecution) say that Corona has ill-gotten wealth if you have not yet seen the SALNs? Cuevas, meanwhile, says one cannot accuse on the basis of suspicion.

3:42 pm: Senator-Judge Francis Escudero manifests, says he is confused because Article 2 contains more than one accusation. He says there should only be one act stated, but notes there are 3: failure to disclose SALNs, failure to disclose properties, and ill-gotten wealth. He also asks, does the prosecution have to prove all 3 acts in Article 2 for the senator-judges to be able to vote on a verdict? Or should one be sufficient? He asks that the prosecution write down its answer and submit to the Senate.

3:45 pm: Tupas manifests. He questions manner of questioning by the defense. He says Cuevas is “lecturing” them, making the trial lose precious time. He also raises the technicalities raised by the defense, and asks that lecturing be avoided. “This is not part of the process,” he contends.

3:47 pm: Senator-Judge Franklin Drilon questions witness Rutaquio. He asks about the documents, specifically the title bearing the name of Corona’s daughter. Rutaquio confirms that the Chief Justice acted as attorney-in-fact for his daughter, based on the documents.


3:51 pm: Senator-Judge Pia Cayetano manifests, asks for clarification on the McKinley Hill transfer of certificate title.

3:52 pm: Session suspended.

3:57 pm: Prosecution holds press briefing, says they will submit a memo to clarify their charges on Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment. They also insist they have evidence that will prove if the entries in the SALNs are true or not.

Defense, meanwhile, tells reporters that they will continue to object the presentation of the witnesses, saying they don’t have any personal knowledge of the alleged assets.

3:20 pm: Session resumes. Enrile orders both prosecution and defense panels to submit memoranda regarding the allegations about Article 2. He also issues an order concerning the marking of evidence to avoid delays.

4:27 pm: Cuevas examines Rutaquio on the title concerning the parking areas for the Bellagio unit of the Coronas.

4:37 pm: Rutaquio is discharged.

4:38 pm: Enrile orders prosecution to prepared documents and mark them ahead of trial. Prosecution then moves to let Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares testify on Tuesday, Jan 24, 2012 instead, because the documents from the BIR are still being prepared. Henares will appear to present income tax returns of the Coronas, which the prosecution aims to use as evidence.

4:42 pm: Next witness is called. It is the acting Quezon City Register of Deeds, Carlo Alcantara. He takes oath as witness. Private prosecutor Jose Justiniano does the direct examination.

MORE DOCUMENTS. QC Register of Deeds Carlo Alcantara testifies on day 4.

Justiniano also asks Alcantara about the process of computerized transactions at their office.

5:04 pm: Justiniano asks Alcantara about the properties owned by the Coronas. First: a property at La Vista, Quezon City under the name of Ma. Carla Corona-Castillo, another daughter of the Chief Justice.

5:12 pm: Next: Condominium of certificate title for a condominium unit in Quezon City, at One Burgundy Plaza in Loyola Heights.

5:16 pm: Cuevas questions the relevance of the titles being presented by the prosecution. Justiniano says the documents are in the name of the Chief Justice’s daughter.

5:31 pm: Next: A title for another property in Quezon City, this time at Ayala Heights.

5:33 pm: Session suspended again.

5:38 pm: Session resumes. Continuation of presentation of documents. Later, defense counsel Cuevas asks impeachment court to cross-examine Alcantara in the next hearing; Enrile approves. Alcantara is then discharged for the time being.

5:47 pm: Next prosecution witness is presented: Marikina City Register of Deeds, Sedfrey Garcia. He is called to prove, based on records, the presence of titles in the name of the Corona couple.

Garcia then presents TCTs under the name of Cristina Corona, the wife of the Chief Justice.

6:02 pm: Enrile moves to adjourn trial. It will resume Tuesday, January 24. Monday, January 23, is a holiday marking the Chinese New Year. He reminds the prosecution to meet with witnesses, mark documents ahead of time; Tupas suggests 10 am, but Enrile, upon suggestion of Senate staff, makes it 8 am, to allow for more time.

6:03 pm: Session adjourned. – Rappler.com