Prosecution cites ‘inconsistencies’ of Megaworld exec

Carmela Fonbuena

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They concede the 'discount' is not alleged in Article 2 of the complaint

MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution panel wasn’t too happy with their own witness on Tuesday, January 31. They cited supposed “inconsistencies” in the testimony of Megaworld senior vice-president for marketing and sales Noli Hernandez.

Hernandez insisted that the 40% “reduction” that Megaworld granted Chief Justice Renato Corona for his Bellagio unit in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig could not be called a “discount.” It’s a justified adjustment, he said, considering various considerations, such as:

1) Damage sustained by the unit because of a typhoon;

2) Pressure to sell the unit due to the global economic slowdown at the time

Hernandez added it also made more “economic sense” for Megaworld to reduce the price of the unit rather than repair the unit, which would have cost the company about P5-M.

Private prosecutor Joseph Joemer Perez conducted direct examination of Hernandez. Citing the Megaworld’s 2008 Annual Report, he said there seems to be inconsistencies in the statement of Hernandez.

“Among the reasons for the discount was the fact that nahihirapan silang magbenta noong panahon na iyon dahil sa crisis ng Lehman brothers,” he told reporters. “I wanted to show him kumita noong 2008. The sales increased by 25%. Megaworld said walang material event na nakaapekto sa kanilang operations,” Perez added.

“I leave it up to the public to decide,” he said.

While he admits that Monday, January 30, was a better day for the prosecution, he claimed that they were still able to establish that the Chief Justice was given a reduced price for the unit.

Prosecution spokesperson Lorenzo Tañada III said no matter the amount, receiving discounts violates the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Perez also questioned Hernandez’s statement regarding cases of Megaworld before the Supreme Court. Hernandez said Megaworld lost 2 cases before the Supreme Court that cost the company about P47-M.

Perez said Hernandez did not mention an earlier Supreme Court decision that favored Megaworld. “Ang nangyari, nanalo ang Megaworld dahil sa decision na sinulat ni Chief Justice Corona. Na-abasewleto ang Megaworld world sa liability amounting to P25 million,” Perez said.

Perez said it’s up to the senator jurors to appreciate what have been disclosed.

Several senators sought to stop the prosecution panel from pursuing questions on the “discount” because it was not alleged in Article 2 of the impeachment complaint.

The prosecution conceded that the issue on the discount was not in the impeachment complaint. They said it only cropped up during the trial.

Nevertheless, they said they are leaving it to the senator-jurors to appreciate the new evidence.

Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara said the question remains: how could Chief Justice Renato Corona afford all the properties? – Rappler.com

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