#CoronaTrial: Day 11

KD Suarez

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Day 11: Discussion on the disclosure of properties in SALNs; Estrada, Escudero call on prosecution for presenting '45 properties' list to public prior to trial

MANILA, Philippines – Here are the highlights of Day 11 of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

2:04 pm: Session starts. Roll call: 19 senators present. Attendance later upped to 20 after TG Guingona arrived a few minutes later. Absent: Senators Sergio Osmeña III, Miriam Defensor-Santiago both absent (Osmeña on leave, Santiago still out for medical reasons).

2:08 pm: Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III brings up the motion, requests for subpoena by prosecution. Senator-judges will discuss it on Monday in caucus. The subpoenas, as per Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, touched on “separation of powers,” and the subpoenas are most likely about the request to subpoena Supreme Court justices.

2:11 pm: Prosecution introduces list of witnesss for the day: Greg Gregonia of Burgundy Realty, Ava Venus Mejia from Filinvest, and the Registrars of Deeds of Quezon City and Marikina. Prosecution mentions the cross-examination of the Registrars of Deeds are pending since Week 1, thus Enrile rules they be first on stand.

2:12 pm: Session suspended while first witness, Quezon City Registrar of Deeds Carlo Alcantara, is still out of session hall.

2:13 pm: Session resumes. Cross examination of Alcantara by defense’s Ramon Esguerra. He first testified during the direct examination by the prosecution in Day 4 (Jan 19).

Alcantara is quizzed about the documents related to the Corona properties in Quezon City.

2:37 pm: Alcantara is discharged. Next up is Marikina Registrar of Deeds Sedfrey Garcia. He was also direct examined on Day 4 (Jan 19), and is now being cross-examined by Esguerra. He is asked about Corona properties in Marikina.

Defense, prosecution discuss the 7 titles of Marikina properties allegedly owned by the Coronas. Defense says the properties under the names of Renato Corona and Cristina Corona have been sold already, so these were not declared in SALNs.

2:44 pm: Cross-examination of Garcia ends. Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano asks clarificatory questions about the values that should be in SALNs: fair market value, zonal value, or assessors’ value? He asks both sides to file legal memos on the matter.

Cayetano, defense’s Serafin Cuevas, and Rep. Elpidio Barzaga discussing the matter. Defense says the issue in Article 2 of the Articles of Impeachment is just about the filing, while prosecution says it should also include the “accurate, truthful” accomplishment of the SALN.

2:57 pm: Senator-judge Ralph Recto recognized, asks clarificatory questions to both defense, prosecution about the SALNs again.

Defense says if errors in SALN is not malicious or intentional, there is no criminal or administrative liability. Meanwhile, prosecution says filer of the SALN can be liable for perjury if it is not truthful, incorrect.

Enrile then asks prosecution: Is being untruthful in SALN a high crime? Barzaga answers it is not. Enrile says, based on Constitution, only high crimes are impeachable.

3:06 pm: Recto then asks defense about their cross-examination on the Marikina properties. Defense explains Marikina properties were already sold but buyer did not register it.

He then points out: Defense’s argument on the sale of properties (The Columns) is different from what they are now raising regarding the Marikina properties.

3:10 pm: Senator-judge Joker Arroyo recognized, and tells court that they should be able to determine if the omissions of the respondent reaches the level of an impeachable offense. “Not every offense, not every omission is an impeachable offense,” he says.

He adds, the responsibility of the prosecution is to present evidence amounting to an impeachable offense. “If not, it is not fair to the Senate,” he says.

3:13 pm: Senator-judge Koko Pimentel asks defense: Why did buyer allow 22 years to pass without transferring the title to their name? “We can’t fault the prosecution because Marikina property is still under the name of the Coronas.”

Defense argues buyer refuses to register. Cuevas says it would be unfair to subject the Chief Justice to an impeachment trial because of buyer’s failure to register a property sold by the Coronas.

3:20 pm: Senator-judge Francis Escudero then asks about the defense’s differing standards on ownership of property. “You cannot be inconsistent or have a double standard on this,” he says. He also asks about the “gravity, level of crimes” considered impeachable.

He also admonishes prosecution for presenting “45 properties” of the Coronas prior to the trial. He asks, are we discussing it all? Prosecution’s Rep Niel Tupas says no, not all, only around 21-24 properties because other were already sold.

3:26 pm: Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada presses Rep Niel Tupas on the release of a list of properties from the Land Registration Authority (LRA) prior to the trial. Tupas later admits, they released it to the public.

Enrile then tells both sides, “Ang pakiusap lang ng hukumang ito, maging fair sa bawat isa, lalo na sa karapatan ng nasasakdal.”

3:30 pm: Cuevas manifests, says the defense finds it “revolting” that marked documents are presented to the public, saying it is not yet evidence.

Meanwhile, Tupas speaks on impeachable offenses. “Our charge is not a high crime – it is the betrayal of public trust,” he contends, and quotes constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas. Enrile says the court will take up what the meaning of “betrayal of public trust” is.

3:36 pm: Witness Garcia finally discharged. Senator-Judge Gregorio Honasan recognized, and reminds both sides to “moderate” public pronouncements. “The trial presented to the media is going faster than the trial in the courtroom,” he says.

He asks for a report on how order vs public disclosures has been complied with, and Enrile says they will discuss it in caucus on Monday.

3:37 pm: Session suspended for “15 minutes.”

4:07 pm: Session resumes. Estrada recognized, and says it was indeed the prosecution who released the documents to the public. Tupas then responds, admits he did release the documents.

4:13 pm: Next witness is Gregg Gregonia of Burgundy Realty Corp, who appears in lieu of Burgundy president Rogelio Serafica who is abroad. Private prosecutor Clarence Jandoc to conduct direct examination.

Defense objects, says Serafica should be in stand instead, but Enrile lets Gregonia testify. He then says Serafica may be called in the future.

Gregonia is called in relation to the Burgundy condominium unit in Quezon City. Prosecution also says the Chief Justice failed to make truthful, accurate disclosure of SALN.

4:25 pm: Documents related to the Burgundy unit are submitted to the court, and are the marked.

During direct examination, Enrile gets impatient with Jandoc.

5:22 pm: Direct examination done. Cross-examination now. Cuevas’ first question is about Gregonia’s appearance, asking why he is at the impeachment court instead of Serafica, who was subpoenaed. After the question is answered, he proceeds to quiz Gregonia about the documents.

5:43 pm: Cross-examination ends. Estrada recognized, asks what is it that the prosecution wants to prove with Gregonia’s testimony.

Jandoc says this shows the parking shot was not declared in the SALN, and the condo unit was not truthfully disclosed and undervalued.

5:52 pm: Witness is discharged. Sen. Arroyo recognized, cautions prosecution that only public prosecutors can make points of law.

5:54 pm: Tupas reiterates prosecution’s request for subpoenas, but Enrile says they must lay basis for the subpoenas. Tupas says they will do so.

Tupas then says they will start on Article 3 of the Articles of Impeachment on Monday. Defense objects, saying they haven’t finished cross-examination of witnesses, including Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares. Prosecution will present the witnesses needed on Monday.

6:02 pm: Session adjourned. Trial to resume on Monday, February 6, 2012, at 2 pm. – Rappler.com

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