All eyes on Corona during impeach trial

Posted on May 22, 2012

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The whole country will be tuning in to see Chief Justice Renato Corona testify in his own impeachment proceeding in the Senate, the spokesman of the House prosecution team said today.
Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada said they expect the Chief Justice to invoke his right against self-incrimination often to avoid ticklish questions during the cross examination.
“We also believe that he will use this day as his platform to resign,” Tañada told members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) IBP-Cebu City chapter and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
Tañada was guest speaker on the forum on impeachment and the Freedom of Information Bill. He thanked Cebu city lawyers for supporting the impeachment of Corona.
Lawyer Democrito Barcenas, who said the Cebu City chapter openly supported Corona’s impeachment, said it would be better that he resign in order to spare the country from further political division.
Tañada said Corona has no choice but to appear before the Senate.
“He has become a sitting duck. His testimony will be a blockbuster. But will he be willing to still answer truthfully those questions without invoking the right to self-incrimination?” Tañada said.
The more Corona refuses to answer the questions, the more public opinion will turn against him, said Tañada.
If Corona has nothing to hide, there is no need for him to to invoke his right against self-incrimination.
Based on what has been presented by the defense so far, Tañada said it is obvious that Corona didn’t declare all his wealth in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
“It can’t be denied. He didn’t declare his dollar bank account.
Corona also didn’t declare his peso bank account in three years from 2009 to 2011,” Tañada said.
Last week, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales revealed that Corona kept $12 million in 82 accounts in at least five banks. Corona didn’t mention his dollar accounts in his SALN.
Tañada said Corona’s camp may likely employ the Foreign Currency Deposit Law which mandates that dollar accounts confidential.
He said the Foreign Currency Deposit Law was enforced during the regime of the late president Ferdinand Marcos. The law requiring disclosure of one’s assets in the SALN came after.
Tañada, who represents the 4th district of Quezon province, said a public official or employee should declare all his or her wealth, including foreign currency deposits.
“If dollar accounts won’t be declared, it is better to transfer other savings to dollar accounts. It’s against the interest of the SALN,” he said.
He said the mandatory disclosure of SALNs of all government officials and employees, including justices and judges, is part of the amendments in the Freedom of Information Bill pending before Congress.
Tañada declined to elaborate on how the prosecution will handle Corona.
“For the direct examination, it will definitely be Justice Cuevas but it would be to the prosecution’s benefit if we won’t divulge who’ll do the cross examination.” he said.
He said there’s a big possibility that the cross examination will happen on Wednesday since the proceeding will have to depend on how long the direct examination will be.
Should Corona refuse to resign tomorrow, Tanada said he is confident that the senator-judges could submit their verdicts before recess on June 6. /Ador Vincent Mayol and Edison delos Angeles

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