Defense discredits Day 8 testimonies

Natashya Gutierrez

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They insist Corona acted as an 'agent' of his daughter in the McKinley purchase

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona was simply acting as an agent with his special powers as attorney, the defense explained on Monday, January 30.

This is why the original receipts from the McKinley property of the Chief Justice’s daughter Charina bore his and his wife’s names, they added.

Defense counsel Judd Roy explained that Charina did not pay the corporation directly and instead paid her parents, who then issued the check to Megaworld, which is why the receipts were under his name.

Roy said there is nothing unusual about this, as this is a common exercise for families whose relatives are abroad.

When it was pointed out that the Special Power of Attorney (SPA) was issued only after the last payment of the McKinley property, defense spokesperson Ramon Esguerra said that the Deed of Assignment was executed before the actual deed of sale, based on the SPA.

“Eventually, the title was issued to [Charina] based on the SPA and these two documents,” Esguerra told Rappler. “Interestingly, they withheld the SPA. Why?”

The defense said the deed of trust is still with them and that they will present it in due time.

Roy also accused the prosecution of displaying “instances of suppression.”

He said that the back of the deed of sale says that Corona was an attorney-in-fact, meaning he was not acting for himself. Roy emphasized Megaworld finance director Giovanni Ng’s testimony that a receipt in someone’s name can mean the property is someone else’s.

Testimony was ‘destroyed’

Defense spokesperson Tranquil Salvador III said that Ng himself answered questions about the controversial discount the Chief Justice received. Ng testified that Megaworld regularly gives 10-15% discounts, but it was revealed that Corona received a 40% discount amounting to P10 million.

Salvador said that the discount, as Ng explained, was due to the unit’s condition. It was “skeletal and [had] technical problems.” He also said that as a developer during a financial crisis, it was only normal that Megaworld wanted to sell, and was thus willing to giving a larger than usual discount.

Roy also questioned the decision of the prosecution to put Ng on the stand.

“Why is this the witness they’re presenting?” asked Roy. “Why does he sign in these contracts, then when you need him to testify, he says, I really don’t know anything? [The prosecution] sought to show that the price was unfair or incorrect but Mr Ng obviously said, ‘I sign 3,000 documents a day, I don’t see the details.’ He has no personal knowledge… I think his testimony was absolutely destroyed.”

Esguerra discredited Aniceto Bisnar Jr, Vice President of Ayala Land as well, saying Bisnar did not know when the unit in Bonifacio Ridge was actually accepted. Nor did he know the sources of funds.

On the prosecution’s allegations that the properties are not listed in Corona’s Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN), Salvador said that as long as the notice of acceptance has not yet been signed, the properties have not yet been transferred, and hence should not yet be declared.

“The issue is the SALN. Properties in [the Chief Justice’s] name are in the SALN. The McKinley lot was in his daughter’s name so it was not in the SALN,” Esguerra said. –

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.