Corona: ‘We invested in foreign exchange’By Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona revealed on Tuesday that his family invested their resources in “foreign exchange” in an apparent attempt to explain the multi-million dollar bank deposits that he allegedly owned.
“During several [trials] ago, witnesses came forward to reveal about for example, the Basa-Guidote Enterprise Inc (BGEI),” Corona said in his opening statement in the Senate acting as an impeachment court.
BGEI was owned by the family of Corona’s wife, Cristina.
“Because of the influence of the family of my wife, we did not invest in property but invested our resources in foreign exchange,” Corona said.
Corona then revealed how a P2.5 billion property in Libis in Quezon City went to Jose Basa III as its sole owner when it was originally named under Jose Basa III and the Chief Justice’s mother-in-law, Asuncion Basa-Roco.
The family of his wife, Corona said, and not the Basas were the real victims contrary to what was projected in the media.
Earlier, Corona declared that his “conscience is clear” and claimed he was a victim of a vicious black propaganda instigated by a vindictive administration led by President Benigno Aquino III, whom he called a “landlord president.”
Corona finally took the witness stand and faced the impeachment trial at the Senate, repeating thrice that his conscience is clear.
“…I committed no wrongdoing,” a defiant chief justice also told the 23 senator-judges minutes after he was welcomed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The country’s top judge testified at his impeachment trial Tuesday in a last-ditch bid to save his job, with Aquino saying his ouster is key to an anti-corruption drive.
Corona is accused of protecting graft-tainted former president Gloria Arroyo from prosecution, and of allegedly amassing a personal fortune above the limits of his salary.
But at the trial, Corona denied all the accusations. “We lead a modest life…in fact we have no servants at home. No flashy cars. We eat simple meals,” Corona said.
“What have I done wrong to the country? I can’t recall committing any wrongdoing and that’s the reason I’m facing this court. I’m very sure I have not stolen anything from the government,” he said.
As expected, the Chief Justice blamed the impeachment case against him to President Benigno Aquino III, whom he described as “Hacienderong Pangulo.”
“Meron ba silang katiwalian na binintang sa akin sa kabila ng pagkakalkal ng huwad na mga ebidensya? Wala naman pong binibintang sa akin na katiwalian,” he lamented.
All he saw in the trial, he said, was hatred and vindictiveness of the President.
Corona cited three reasons why he was facing this impeachment proceeding in the Senate—Aquino’s retaliation after the Supreme Court ruled against Hacienda Luisita, owned by the family of the President’s mother and the late President Corazon Aquino; the President’s alleged desire to control all three branches of government– legislative, executive and the judiciary; and an alleged attempt by the left to take over the country.
Corona particularly named Aquino’s presidential adviser, Ronald Llamas, who used to be part of the party-list group Akbayan.
Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, who presides over the trial, interrupted Corona several times and requested to go directly to his point.
“Kami po ay naghihintay sa inyong pakay…” Enrile said but still allowed Corona to proceed.
Prosecutors, led by members of the House of Representatives, expect to finish quizzing Corona by Thursday, after which the 23 senators sitting as judges will adjourn before delivering a verdict.
Enrile has said he wants a decision no later than June 7.
Though by no means the only target, Aquino has said driving Corona from office would be a crucial step in ridding the Philippines of corruption.
Originally posted at 02:32 pm | Tuesday, May 22, 2012