Defense lawyer: Premature for prosecution to bring in Corona in-laws
MANILA, Philippines—It’s too early for the prosecution to talk about calling Ana Basa and Sister Flory Basa to the stand as rebuttal witnesses in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, defense counsel Tranquil Salvador III said Saturday.
“This is our turn in terms of presentation of evidence. And until such time, the prosecution will not be in a position to determine whether or not we have caused damage to their case,” Salvador told reporters after a press forum.
Should the prosecution panel move to present the two women as rebuttal witnesses, this would have to be first ruled on by the impeachment court, he added.
After Manila Mayor Lito Atienza testified on the city government’s purchase of a piece of land for P34.7 million from Basa Guidote Enterprises, Inc. (BGEI), the prosecution said it was open to the possibility of calling Ana and her aunt Sister Flory to the stand.
The defense has ruled them out as its witnesses.
Cristina, who was accused of usurping control of the BGEI by her cousin Ana and aunt Sister Flory, received the payment “in trust” for the family corporation. Her husband, the impeached magistrate, declared a P11-million cash advance from BGEI as a liability in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Senator Franklin Drilon said that their testimony as rebuttal witnesses was inevitable if the P11-million cash advance was taken up in the trial. The defense argued that their testimony would be irrelevant to the case.
Senator Francis Pangilinan said Saturday he believed Ana and Sister Flory could shed light on the P11- million cash advance that Corona said he took from BGEI.
“The cash advance of P11 million from Basa Guidote amounted to more than half his entire net worth as reported in his SALN at some point. And how this was acquired and how it allegedly found its way to Corona’s bank accounts is critical in fully understanding the entries in his SALN,” Pangilinan said in a text message.
Both sides in the controversy surrounding BGEI should be heard, he added.
Salvador said it’s the defense call whether to “meet the issue” of the Basas’ possible testimony as rebuttal witnesses.
“If we feel that there is no need to face the issue and it’s irrelevant to the impeachment proceedings, we might decide not to even touch on that,” he said.
The BGEI issue was relevant to the defense because it proves that BGEI existed and had assets, including the P34.7-million proceeds from the sale of its property in Manila, Salvador said.
“The P11 million only shows that BGEI had funds,” he said.
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