Defense shrugs off prosecution’s tax records

Natashya Gutierrez

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The defense says they will use the same prosecution evidence to prove Corona's innocence

MANILA, Philippines – The evidence presented by the prosecution on Day 6 of the impeachment trial helped the defense.

This is according to the defense counsels of Chief Justice Renato Corona. They said that the documents brought to court by Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares prove that Corona declared all his properties in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

“There is no damage done to the defense by the [BIR documents] as they all involved properties disclosed in the pertinent SALNs,” defense counsel Ramon Esguerra told Rappler. “Even the P11-M purchase price for the La Vista lot is in the SALNs as a liability – loan obtained from the corporation of Mrs. Corona.”

They point to lead counsel Serafin Cuevas’ admission of the documents as evidence and his acknowledgment of their authenticity without Henares’ testimony, proof that the defense is not trying to conceal anything from the public and is in fact, trying to speed up the proceedings.

The defense also said they were satisfied with the way Wednesday’s proceedings went. They laud the ruling of the impeachment court not to allow evidence for Article 2.4 in relation to Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.

“I was very satisfied with the courts’ ruling. It shows that this isn’t just a political exercise,” said defense lawyer Jose “Judd” Roy III. “There is a recognition of legal standards.”

Respect for senator-judges

Defense spokesperson Tranquil Salvador III said that the defense respects the questioning of Sen. Ralph Recto, saying he had the right to ask queries.

Recto asked Henares the tax amounts paid by Corona from the years 2002 to 2010. Henares’ responses revealed that they had no information on Corona’s withheld taxes from 2002-2005 because he did not file ITRs and nor did the Supreme Court file an alpha list for those years.

At a press conference, reporters asked the spokespersons about their rumored plan to inhibit Sen. Franklin Drilon from the trial because of his perceived bias toward the prosecution. They argued that the idea originally came from the public and the media. They said they have not decided on it.

Wait for tomorrow

In an interview with Rappler, Cuevas emphasized that the prosecution’s evidence was merely presented, and has not yet been accepted by the court.

He said they will use the same evidence against the prosecution.

He also mentioned that the Chief Justice has been happy so far with the way the trial is going.

Masaya po. Tumawag sa akin cinocongratulate ako. Siguro kung mali yung ginawa sa amin minura na kami noon (He’s happy. He called to congratulate me. Perhaps if what we did was wrong, he would’ve cursed us!),” joked Cuevas.

He said Henares’ testimony is not a cause of concern, since she is not even able to verify whether what is written there is true or not. Cuevas also shrugged off a question on Mrs. Corona’s one-time filing of a tax return in 2003.

Hindi po kami nalililgalig doon (We aren’t bothered by that),” said Cuevas with confidence. “Makinig kayo sa cross-examination bukas (Just listen to tomorrow’s cross-examination).” – Rappler.com

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.