Senators to Corona: Answer dollar ‘bomb’
MANILA, Philippines – Senators will hold Chief Justice Renato Corona to his lawyers’ promise that he will confront all issues against him.
Hours before Corona faces the impeachment court, senator-judges said they expect Corona to address two main issues: his dollar accounts, and alleged involvement in the feud over his wife’s family corporation, the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc.
Sen Panfilo Lacson described the two as the most compelling issues confronting Corona.
“Nothing short of a convincing explanation can change the minds of, I can say a great majority of the senators kasi medyo bomba ang pinasabog ng Ombudsman at AMLC kaya kailangan talaga sagutin iyon” (because the Ombudsman’s testimony was explosive that’s why he has to answer that).
Lacson was referring to the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales that Corona has 82 dollar accounts in 5 banks, with fresh deposits amounting to $12 million.
Sen Edgardo Angara said senators have great expectations for Corona to answer allegations against him.
“I think the whole world, the whole Philippines expects that he will deliver on his promise to explain everything and there’s a justification for all his accounts that have been opened. That’s what we’re waiting for because as of now, the burden is really heavy for him to explain,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Sen Franklin Drilon said the issue boils down to Corona’s supposed unexplained wealth.
“He should explain first why he has many bank accounts not reported in the SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth). Second, he should explain to the public why it appears that his wealth is bigger than his salary.”
‘Don’t hide behind technicalities’
Senators said they will respect Corona’s right to keep his foreign accounts confidential and his right against self-incrimination.
They, however, warned him against repeatedly invoking these rights to evade questions.
Angara said, “If he evades all questions on the basis of the right, that will be bad for him. It will seem as if he is hiding something but if it’s only for selected issues or questions, like a debatable issue, I think we shouldn’t take away his right.”
Drilon agreed. “We cannot compel him to reveal but we must remind him of his promise that he will bare all, of the promises of Atty [Judd] Roy that they will confront this issue.”
Drilon also pointed out that the Foreign Currency Deposit Act must not be used as an excuse.
He said, “Foreign accounts are assets and the SALN stands for Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. A foreign account is an asset. Number two, The foreign Currency Deposit Act cannot be used as a haven for the corrupt …. That was never the intention of the law.”
“Certainly, invoking the right against self-incrimination is very far from confronting this issue.”
Senate won’t summon branch managers
Senators also revealed that they have decided in a caucus on Monday, May 21, against summoning the bank branch managers to testify on Corona’s accounts.
The suggestion to subpoena the managers was made by Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago in last week’s trial.
Lacson explained,“If we do that, we will be inquisitorial. That’s the job of the prosecution and defense. Our job is only to listen and take notes, not to look for evidence.”
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will formally announce the decision in the trial later.
‘Humiliation enough penalty’
Enrile will also announce the impeachment court’s decision on whether or not to cite Kaya Natin lead convenor Harvey Keh in contempt.
The presiding officer asked Keh to explain why he submitted alleged bank documents of Corona to the Senate President without verifying their authenticity, and with a TV crew in tow.
Keh has apologized, saying the episode was a lapse in judgment.
If it were up to Lacson, the tongue-lashing Keh got from Santiago and other senator-judges last week is already enough.
“Ikaw ba ang masigaw-sigawan ng 30 minutos sa national television …. mas gusto ko na i-reprimand ako in writing kaysa i-subject ako sa ganung humiliation.” (If it were you who were yelled at for 30 minutes in national television …. I would prefer to be reprimanded in writing than be subjected to that kind of humiliation.) – Rappler.com