‘Ill-gotten wealth at heart of SALN disclosure’

Ayee Macaraig

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The prosecution submits a memorandum arguing that the issue on Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth is relevant to Article 2

MANILA, Philippines – A day after the adjournment of the impeachment trial amid confusion on the scope of Article 2, the prosecution submitted a memorandum clarifying the charge.

In the memorandum submitted on Wednesday, January 25, prosecutors argue that the allegation that Chief Justice Renato Corona amassed ill-gotten wealth is relevant and sufficiently stated in the impeachment complaint.

Chief prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. and lead private prosecutor Mario Luza Bautista signed the memorandum.

“The prosecution’s evidence on Corona’s accumulation of ill-gotten wealth strikes at the very heart of his failure to disclose his SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth) to the public. It shows that Corona has not been truthful and honest in his SALN, and has therefore violated the very spirit and letter of the SALN requirement. Such proof, is therefore, very material and relevant.”

The prosecution said that the law does not just mandate officials to disclose their SALNs to the public but also “implies a duty to be truthful, honest and accurate.”

On Tuesday, Corona’s lawyers submitted a memorandum asking the Senate to prevent and prohibit prosecutors from presenting evidence on Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth for being irrelevant and improper.

Defense counsels said that ill-gotten wealth was included only in the discussion, and not the heading of Article 2.

The heading of Article 2 reads, “respondent committed culpable violation of the constitution and/or betrayed the public trust when he failed to disclose to the public his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth as required under Sec. 17, Art. XI of the 1987 Constitution.”

The defense also questioned the language of the impeachment complaint, which used words like “suspected” and “reported.” Defense counsels argue that ill-gotten wealth was not a charge based on “ultimate facts.”

“Take it as a whole”

In their own memorandum, prosecutors said the heading should be taken together with its supporting allegations. “Indeed, the Constitution expressly states that it is the Verified Complaint (taken as a whole), and not the mere captions or headings therein, which constitutes the Articles of Impeachment.”

Prosecutors also asked why the defense questioned Article 2 “at this late stage.” They said the proceedings are past the stage of pleadings and allegations, and have reached the stage of the presentation of proof.

They added, “Even assuming … that Corona can still question the sufficiency of the allegations at this late stage, the fact is that the allegations in paragraphs 2.3 and 2.4 [of the impeachment complaint] are sufficient.”

Corona’s own words 

In making their case against what they call “blind and reckless adherence to technicalities,” prosecutors quoted Corona’s own words in his decision in the case of Republic v. Sandiganbayan: 

“If there is proof of illegal acquisition, accumulation, misappropriation, fraud or illicit conduct, let it be brought out now. Let the ownership of these funds and other assets be finally determined and resolved with dispatch, free from all the delaying technicalities and annoying procedural sidetracks.” 

After holding a caucus at noon, the Senate will rule on the scope of Article 2 when the impeachment trial resumes at 2pm. – Rappler.com 

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