#CoronaTrial: Day 7

KD Suarez

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Day 7: BIR chief continues testimony, reveals tax records of Corona daughters

MANILA, Philippines – Here are the highlights of Day 7 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

2:03 pm: Session starts. Invocation by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. Roll call: 18 senators present at roll call.

2:06 pm: Prosecution, defense panels enter appearances.

2:09 pm: Rep. Niel Tupas asks impeachment court to let 4 witnesses be excused for the day, and instead appear on Monday, January 30. Enrile approves motion.

BIR Chief Kim Jacinto-Henares returns to the witness stand. Private prosecutor Arthur Lim to continue direct examination.

2:10 pm: Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago gets angry and asks if prosecution is accusing the Chief Justice of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Lim tries to respond, but Santiago scolds him. “Do not override me!”

She fumes: “This is the end of this colloquy. How dare you question my authority!”

Enrile reiterates that counsels may not argue with senator-judges.

2:23 pm: Santiago turns to Henares, asks her about her testimony from Day 5. She asks, did you imply any truth or faleshood in showing the documents? Henares says she only says she just attested to the entries in the documents.

She reminds court Henares that is just an attesting officer.

2:27 pm: Sen. Joker Arroyo recognized, raises point of inquiry. He asks if the documents have been released to the public. Debate on whether documents should be released or not begins. Senators Arroyo, Pia Cayetano raise concern over release, say the documents aren’t yet public since these aren’t yet in evidence. On the other hand, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Teofisto Guingona III, say documents are already public, since trial is public.

Enrile reminds both prosecution and defense not to discuss evidence, merits of the case in public.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano clarifies difference between sub judice rule and gag rule, says gag rule is absolute.

Arroyo then says, no matter how public the hearing is, the rules of secrecy on tax records must be maintained.

2:47 pm: Cuevas brings attention to the “violation” of the rules on secrecy by the prosecution. Defense again insists Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment is defective, saying no allegation of violation of the Anti-Graft Law is in it.

Santiago asks: What is the timeframe for amending the impeachment complaint? Can you amend anytime? Is there a time limit, a deadline?

3:01 pm: Enrile points out, the Articles of Impeachment is faulty, citing a decision by the Supreme Court that each article should only have one allegation.

Arroyo also raises rule barring private prosecutors from arguing points, saying they can only help in examining witnesses.

3:06 pm: Impeachment court discussion stuck on Articles of Impeachment, specifically Article 2. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano says, “parang nag-replay tayo dito.”

3:12 pm: Sen. Escudero asks: We’re impeaching the Chief Justice as the Chief Justice. Should we include CJ Corona’s acts as associate justice and ex-Palace official in discussion of case? “Limitado po ba tayo” sa mga ginawa niya as Chief Justice, o pati noon? Enrile says the impeachment court needs to sort this out. Pangilinan, citing the law, says Corona’s acts as associate justice relevant to trial.

3:17 pm: Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas suddenly leaves session hall, tells colleagues, “Bahala na kayo diyan.” His staff followed.

Later, Fariñas said he went to the restroom, was disappointed. He wanted to argue as public prosecutor but was stopped. He refused to say who was or were stopping him from arguing.

He says, “Kung kailangan nila ako, sige. Kung hindi, huwag. Parang dekorasyon ako.” However, he said he won’t quit the prosecution.

3:18 pm: Court proceeds to presentation of witnesses. First, court orders other witnesses to leave holding room to avoid hearing testimony of witness on stand. But it’s discovered that the holding room does not have a TV set.

3:23 pm: Lim proceeds to direct-examine Henares. This is a continuation of the direct examination from yesterday, January 25.

She explains the processes in getting certificate authorizing registration (CAR), transfer of ownership of property.

Henares tells the court that Corona’s daughter Carla only has minimal income, cannot possibly be able to buy a property at La Vista. The transaction was in 2010, but was only revealed to them last Friday, when the documents were subpoenaed.

Enrile then quizzes Henares, when did you learn this? Only after documents were subpoenaed by impeachment court. She then says, they will look into the matter, will check if the BIR has to file tax evasion case vs Corona’s daughter.

As this goes on, Sen. Santiago leaves impeachment trial, after her blood pressure shot up to 180/90.

3:40 pm: Other tax records of Carla Corona-Castillo being presented, despite repeated objections by the defense.

3:53 pm: Session suspended.

Defense presscon, where they discussed the release of documents, the motion to inhibit Drilon from the trial.

4:20 pm: Session resumes. Lim resumes direct examination of Henares. Documents concerning tax records of Charina Corona, also a daughter of the Chief Justice, is presented. McKinley Hill property tackled. Henares also testifies, Charina was registered as a one-time taxpayer in October 2008, for the McKinley Hill purchase. Aside from that, no income tax returns to date, she said.

4:36 pm: Prosecution ends direct examination. Defense now starts cross-examination. Cuevas quizzes Henares on the BIR’s examination of tax records of the Coronas. Henares insists, she can only disclose information in the subpoena, as ordered by the President. Cuevas quizzes Henares too regarding her conversations with the prosecution, her knowledge on the SALNs.

5:07 pm: Senators Escudero, Pangilinan, Alan Cayetano, Drilon, Recto, Enrile, and Arroyo take turns asking Henares about BIR assessments, tax exemptions, and other clarificatory questions. Arroyo, in particular, questions the BIR’s investigation on the ITRs of the Coronas. “I am concerned that the public will think that the forces of government are being used against Corona.”

5:51 pm: Impeachment court discuss the motions of the prosecution, defense. Enrile also tells both counsels to be specific in requesting for subpoenas. He says, directed to the prosecution, “the impression is you are fishing for evidence, which is not proper.”

5:56 pm: Honasan moves to direct impeachment court spokespersons to ask the spokespersons of both camps to moderate media pronouncements. “Trial outside courtroom proceeding faster than trial inside courtroom.”

6:00 pm: Prosecution says Henares will be out for a week, says she can’t testify until she comes back.

6:02 pm: Session adjourns. Trial to resume Monday, January 30. – Rappler.com

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