Corona won't go down without a fight - Cuevas
MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona will fight to the very end.
Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said his client is in fighting form as he prepares to testify in his own impeachment trial on Tuesday, May 22.
After announcing the decision in court on Wednesday, May 16, Cuevas told reporters Corona will not evade allegations against him.
“Aba, di niya na maiiwasang ‘di magpaliwanag diyan. Kung matatalo rin lang kami, matatalo na kaming lumalaban. Hindi pupwede iyong ‘di siya kikibo.” (Oh, he cannot avoid explaining. If we are going to lose, we won’t lose without a fight. He cannot possibly just remain quiet.)
Cuevas, however, made no commitment that Corona will divulge details about his dollar accounts on the witness stand. In various media interviews, Corona promised that he would.
Despite repeated questions from reporters, the lead counsel refused to give a categorical statement. Cuevas said he and Corona will still have to discuss the issue.
“There will be a legal battle over that,” said Cuevas. “Meron nga kaming petition sa Supreme Court, eh 'di kung ganoon, dinismiss na namin 'yun.” (We have a petition before the Supreme Court, if we were to disclose the dollars, we should just have dismissed the petition.)
Watch the interview here:
Cuevas said the defense expects Corona to take the witness stand for two days, but added the team will have no control over how long senator-judges would ask questions. He expects at least 10 out of 23 senators to pose questions to the Chief Justice.
Bank deposits biggest issue
Cuevas said Corona’s alleged bank deposits are the biggest issue confronting the Chief Justice.
“Because the properties -- I think we already convinced them that there are only 5, instead of 45.
Asked if Corona will respond to the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Cuevas downplayed the Ombudsman’s report.
In her testimony, Morales said Corona has 82 dollar accounts in 5 banks, with $12-M in fresh deposits or money that did not move.
Cuevas also said the defense will block the prosecution’s move to ask the Senate to admit the Ombudsman’s report as evidence.
“It’s inadmissible evidence. It’s not the subject of the impeachment. The $10 million is the subject of the ban in the impeachment. Where is it in the complaint? Secondly, that proves illegally acquired wealth, but where is that in the articles of impeachment? Article 2.4 is prohibited by a resolution of the court,” Cuevas said in Filipino.
Cuevas was referring to a Senate decision to strike out Article 2.4 of the impeachment complaint, referring to Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.
Speaking about Morales, he said, “We have discredited her already. She only gave an analysis. Is it not an impossibility, legally and physically, to have 82 accounts? Whoever rich person will not have 82 accounts. What she probably meant was transactions.”
‘No obligation to declare dollars’
Cuevas also echoed a statement made by defense counsel Jose “Judd” Roy III that Corona is not required to declare his dollar accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
Cuevas made the statement in response to the pronouncement of Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile that all assets must be declared, regardless of their amount. In Corona’s case, this would cover his alleged dollar accounts as testified on by the Ombudsman.
The lead counsel said, “Our contention is, we are not under legal obligation to include that in the SALN because the law says so. Why will we have the obligation?”
“It (dollars) cannot be examined, investigated by any person or government authority for that matter. In other words, the grant of confidentiality is absolute. That is our contention. Whether we will be sustained by the court is another story.”
Corona will testify on Tuesday, May 22, when the impeachment trial resumes after a continuance requested by the defense team.
In the next days, Corona’s lawyers will go over his bank records and prepare him for examination.
“It’s not that he will be able to rebut accusations quickly but we will be able to explain successfully,” said Cuevas. – Rappler.com
Click on the links below for more.
- Corona: Checkmate in his second year?
- Senators: Corona to attack credibility of evidence
- Who will cross examine Corona? 5 candidates
- Corona to testify Tuesday, May 22
- Corona Impeachment: 8 Markers of a Good Trial