Defense: P34-M check proves BGEI exists

Natashya Gutierrez

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They also lament the prosecution's continued trial by publicity vs Corona

MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution on Wednesday, February 1, said that despite the prosecution’s attempt to prove that Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) – where the Corona couple obtained a cash advance of P11-M in 2003 – was a “dead” company, they were able to prove otherwise.

The defense said that as made clear by some senator-judges in their questioning of Securities Exchange Commission official Benito Cataran, a company whose license was revoked can still operate and have transactions.

Yung binasa ni Justice Cuevas sa isang SEC opinion, pag sinabing revocation, hindi ito nangangahulugang dissolution,” said defense spokesperson Karen Jimeno. “Marami pa ring pwedeng gawin ang corporation. Ang isa dito ay pwede pa rin siya magpautang sa mga tao.”

Co-defense spokesperson Tranquil Salvador III also said that the P34-M check that the defense presented in court was proof that BGEI had assets and cash to grant a loan.

Defective apartment

Nerissa Josef, Ayala Land’s Assistant Vice-President of Project Development and the prosecution’s second witness, also took the stand to testify about the Coronas’ Columns condominium in Makati.

Despite the deed of sale being executed in 2004, the property was not declared in Corona’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) until 2010.

The defense argued that this shouldn’t be a concern because while the unit was paid for, there was no “record of acceptance” of the property by Corona. Josef only had in her possession a letter addressed to Cristina on her “deemed” acceptance.

The defense believes that ownership begins upon acceptance of the property, not when the deed of sale is signed. The prosecution, on the other hand, disagrees, saying public officials must declare their purchase or acquisition on the year they made it.

Sen. Francis Escudero noted this disagreement, prompting him to ask both panels to submit a legal memorandum on the matter.

Defense counsel Ramon Esguerra also revealed during the trial that the apartment had defects as the unit used to be a “bodega (storage room),” which explains why it took years for the Coronas to accept the property.

He emphasized that whether it was declared belatedly or not is a legal issue, but the fact remains that the property was eventually disclosed in the Chief Justice’s SALNs.

Defense concerns

While the defense walks away from Day 10 confident with their performance, they also raised concerns about the prosecution.

The defense released a statement calling on the court to “exercise its contempt powers” to prevent the prosecution from further “crucifying the Chief Justice” in public.

Masyado na pong bastuan itong ginagawa ng prosecution sa media,” said Esguerra.

Corona’s counsels also submitted a motion in the morning opposing the subpoena of the Chief Justice’s bank accounts, calling it a “fishing expedition.” –

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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.