Corona: No Florida, California houses
Impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona on Sunday denied reports that he owned at least two properties in the United States, saying the addresses mentioned by a journalist in her blog were apartments “rented” by his daughters.
“[The reports are] not true 101 percent. We have no property in the US,” Corona said in text messages to reporters covering the justice beat.
Tranquil Salvador III, one of Corona’s lawyers in the impeachment trial, questioned the motive of the journalist, Raissa Robles, in spreading the story which, he said, came as the Senate impeachment court took a six-week recess.
“The release of this story is highly suspicious because there will be no hearings and opportunities for us to confront them,” Salvador told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone.
“The danger of releasing stories of similar nature is that these might raise suspicions and conclusions may be drawn [against the Chief Justice],” he said.
Corona said the properties that Robles claimed were linked to the name “Renato C. Corona” in US public records were his and his family’s “temporary mailing addresses” whenever they visited the United States.
Robles, who was previously suspected as the unnamed “small lady” who provided the documents of Corona’s dollar deposits to the prosecution panel, said the properties were in Tampa, Florida, and in an upscale residential area in Mountain View, California.
“The addresses cited by (Robles) were the apartments rented by my two daughters (who are) both licensed PTs (physical therapists) in the US at various times over the past 14 years,” Corona said.
“These were, therefore, temporary mailing addresses at those various times,” he added.
The Chief Justice said the house in Florida “is owned by a family friend where we stay in the few times we’ve been to Tampa.”
Salvador said whoever fed the information to Robles may have had information about the Coronas’ mailing addresses in the United States since one of his daughters is now based in that country.
He also surmised that Robles’ article could be a “reaction to the successful efforts” of the defense panel to debunk the allegation of the prosecution that Corona owned 45 properties.
“We were successful in our efforts to destroy their ‘45 properties theory’ and trim it down to just five properties,” Salvador said.
“I think they would want to capture the interest of the public in the supposed US properties in order to water down the impact of us destroying their 45 properties theory,” he added.
Asked if the prosecution could be behind Robles, Salvador said: “I don’t want to say that. It’s hard to make any attributions at this time.”
“But sadly, stories like this benefit the prosecution. Honestly, I will not be surprised if there will be other stories of this kind,” he said.
Salvador also belittled the legal effects of any discovery of other properties which the prosecution may later claim to be owned by Corona.
Since the prosecution panel had already finished presenting its case, any evidence that the prosecution may find later “has no evidentiary value anymore,” he said.
“All of these are just for the public consumption. What’s the purpose of this? Is this to condition the mind of the public? Is it to bring the trial to a different dimension … in the bar of public opinion?” Salvador said.
He said attempts by the House prosecutors to link Corona to other properties were “an indication of their preparation for this case.”
“It seems that up to this point, they are still continuing to fish for evidence which they know cannot be presented as their evidence. But they are presenting them to the public just to cast doubt on the integrity of the Chief Justice,” he said.
Originally posted: 9:08 pm | Sunday, March 25th, 2012
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