#CoronaTrial: Day 8

MANILA, Philippines - Here are the highlights of Day 8 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

2:02 pm: Session starts. Roll call: 19 senator-judges present. Senator-judge Loren Legarda present after being absent for 2 weeks, while Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago is again absent due to hypertension.

2:08 pm: Senator-judge Antonio Trillanes IV raises his concerns about the trial. "I am convinced that [the impeachment trial] is a political process with judicial character." He says the trial must cover the acts committed by Corona even before he was appointed Chief Justice, saying this is an issue about "moral fitness."

2:11 pm: Impeachment court promulgates the resolution on Article 2, which was decided upon in week 2 of the trial. The rules allow the prosecution to enter evidence for paragraphs 2.2 and 2.3 of Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment, but not for paragraph 2.4.

2:17 pm: Prosecution now presents a new order of the Articles of Impeachment. They propose a new sequence: Article 2 first, followed by 3, 7, 1, 8, 4, 5, and 6. Defense objects, says there is no reason for deviation, and it is an "overhaul" of everything they planned. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile however approves, "in the spirit of liberality."

2:20 pm: Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III reads a letter from Santiago. Santiago's asks both camps to submit the lists of witnesses, evidence, and for the court to tackle these in a caucus.

2:25 pm: Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. asks for a review of the lists of witnesses and evidence by both camps. "We are spending time and resources that could be spent for other activities," he says.

With this, Enrile suggests to both prosecution and defense to agree on testimonial and documentary evidence beforehand, telling them both, "lay your cards on the table." Both sides agree.

2:37 pm: Prosecution presents the day's first witness, Megaworld Finance Director Giovanni Ng. Direct examination by private prosecutor Joseph Perez.

2:38 pm: Ng presents documents on Corona properties in The Bellagio and at McKinley Hill.

In his testimony, Ng says it was the Chief Justice who acquired the McKinley Hill property. He tells court, CJ's daughter Charina Corona bought the property, but buyer's information sheet says buyer is "Renato C. Corona" and "Cristina R. Corona." Official receipts show that "Corona, Renato C. and Cristina R" made all payments, not Charina.

Ng also testifies about the Bellagio property, says the Corona unit is a penthouse unit. Prosecution asks Ng about details of the pricing, but Ng says he is not directly involved in the sales side of the business. This prompts Enrile to suggest to prosecution to bring the appropriate witness to court. Court will subpoena SVP of Megaworld to answer questions on the pricing and discounts.

3:25 pm: Senator-judge Koko Pimentel asks prosecution why they are focusing on the price and a discount on the purchase of the property. Perez answers, says the testimony and evidence is relevant to Article 2. He also says witness Ng told the prosecution the Chief Justice received a 40% discount for the Bellagio unit, or around P10 million. The prosecution will also relate the testimony to the Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) of the Chief Justice.

"Justice of high probity will not accept a discount from a developer with pending litigation," Perez tells court.

3:28 pm: Session suspended "for 15 minutes," to let defense prepare for cross-examination of Ng.

Press conferences by both defense and prosecution.

4:05 pm: Session resumes. Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada asks details about the Bellagio development, sale details.

4:19 pm: Cross examination by Cuevas starts. Asks Ng about details of the transactions.

Ng testifies that a Special Power of Attorney was granted by Charina to her father Renato after the last payment on McKinley property. In response to a quesion by Cuevas, Ng however declared that the Special Power of Attorney was dated after the last payment was made by the Corona couple on the property.

4:32 pm: Cross examination ends. Senator-judges Alan Peter Cayetano and Franklin Drilon ask clarificatory questions.

4:45 pm: Ng is discharged by the prosecution.

4:46 pm: Prosecution calls on 2nd witness for the day, Makati Registrar of Deeds Constante Caluya Jr. Direct examination by Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas. Caluya was called to prove Corona spouses are owners of the condominium unit at The Columns, Makati City.

4:56 pm: Direct examination ends. Defense has no cross-examination for Caluya. Third witness for the prosecution is called: Aniceto Bisnar Jr, of Ayala Land. Private prosecutor Jose Antonio Hernandez to direct examine witness. Viznar was head of commercial operations of Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation. He is called in relation to the Bonifacio Ridge property of the Coronas.

Bisnar says Unit 1902 at the Spanish Bay Tower of Bonifacio Ridge was acquired by Cristina Corona in October 2005, for P9.1 million. He testifies, the unit was purchased in "almost cash basis," completed in checks.

He also presents documents related to the Bonfacio Ridge property.

5:22 pm: Direct examination ends. Defense cross-examination begins, conducted by Ramon Esguerra. Bisnar testifies that the unit was sold in 2005, but the title was given and received in 2006. Esguerra also asked him if he conferred with anyone from the prosecution; Bisnar says he only did so when he brought subpoenaed documents to Senate.

5:44 pm: Cross examination ends. Clarificatory questions asked by Senator Pangilinan.

Pangilinan asks when the unit was paid in full, and Bisnar answers, it was paid almost in full by April 2004, in the form of 2 checks. The first check of P2.2-M, issued on April 1, 2004, was signed by Renato Corona; the second check of P6.9-M, issued on April 30, 2004, was signed by Cristina Corona. Bisnar also testifies that based on the deed of sale, the buyer was Cristina R. Corona but based on payments and official receipts, the Chief Justice and Mrs Corona also paid for it.

5:49 pm: Session suspended by Enrile.

5:53 pm: Session resumes.

During the cross-examination, Ramon Esguerra, lawyer for the defense, points out that there was “no notice of acceptance” usually signed by the buyer, which Bisnar should have shown. While the unit was sold and turned over in 2005, the title was given and received only on July 4, 2006, Esguerra says. He tells the court that it was still possible that the unit was “physically delivered” “sometime after” the delivery of the title.

Bisnar discharged as witness.

5:55 pm: Trial is adjourned. Session to resume on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, at 2 pm. - Rappler.com