Fake? The plot thickens

Carmela Fonbuena

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Now it's the turn of Rep Jorge Banal to be on the hot seat

MANILA, Philippines – The problem with the prosecution panel’s “fake” bank records just won’t go away.

The team was expecting to put the issue to rest on Thursday, February 16, because of the order by the impeachment court for the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) to produce the original bank records of Chief Justice Renato Corona so that these could be compared to the prosecution panel’s copy. The prosecution panel insisted that its records are genuine.

But the issue took a new turn.

PSBank has yet to show Corona’s original bank records. Instead, PSBank Katipunan branch manager Annabelle Tiongson surprised the court with her revelation that a congressman visited her branch on January 31 to seek her assistance with the Chief Justice’s bank records.

“There was a certain person who appraoched me. He went to the branch: Congressman Banal,” Tiongson told the court. It was in response to Sen. Loren Legarda ‘s question on how the document might have been leaked.

“He didn’t ask me to produce anything. He just asked if I could help. He presented the photocopy.”

Quezon City Rep. Jorge Banal, the finance officer of the impeachment secretariat and member of the ruling Liberal Party, sought Tiongson’s help. Banal went to the bank and brought with him a photocopy of Corona’s bank records. Tiongson said Banal’s document appeared similar to the document that the prosecution panel attached to its request for subpoena. Tiongson told the court she refused to help the congressman.

The problem with the revelation is that it appears to contradict an earlier testimony of Prosecutor Rep. Reynaldo Umali that the prosecution panel got hold of the photocopied bank documents on February 2, a day before they filed the supplemental request for subpoena.

It was a story that at least one senator already found hard to believe. “Mahirap paniwalaan ang script nyo,” Sen. Jinggoy Estrada earlier in the week.

Banal offered to explain before the court on Thursday, and the court allowed him before they adjourned.

His version

He claimed that he got a copy of the documents on January 31 then visited the PSBank branch—which happened to be in his district—the following day to seek Tiongson’s assistance.

Banal said: “Nabanggit po ni Ms Anabelle Tiongson na nagpunta po ako sa bangko nila. Totoo po yon. Ako po’y nagpunta doon noong January 31.

Pumunta lang po ako doon para humingi po ng tulong. Totoo po ang sinabi nya. Nagbabakasakali po ako dahil hindi ko po sya personally kilala….

Ako po ay may tinanggap na legal size na photocopied na papel na may signature card noon pong Lunes ng gabi. Ako po ay araw-araw na nandito po sa Secretariat, hindi po ako abogado. Hindi po ako prosecutor. Ang tungkulin ko po sa Secretariat ay admin-finance.”

Pagpasok ko po sa driveway namin, Mayroon po kasing slots ang gate ko po, mayroon pong naka-fold na papel,” Banal said. “Nakita ko nga po. Handwritten po ang $700K. Gusto ko pong i-verify talaga.”

Banal said he did it in “good faith.” He even left his calling card with Tiongson, he said.

Other people have offered to help the prosecution panel, he said, and he was hoping Tiongson would do the same.

Banal said he didn’t share the information with the prosecution panel because he couldn’t verify the authenticity of his documents.

The senators, after a long day, did not question Banal, though they may choose to do so on Monday, when the impeachment trial resumes.

Umali also stands by his testimony on the “small lady.”  Umali and the rest of the prosecution panel claimed they only heard about Banal’s documents on Thursday.

The prosecution was having a good day before Tiongson’s revelation. It was disclosed that on top of the 5 accounts already disclosed last week, Corona had 2 more time deposit accounts.

Out of these total 7 time peso deposits, 3 were curiously closed on Dec. 12, 2011, the same day that Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives. – Rappler.com




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