The prosecution of Chief Justice Renato Corona in the Senate impeachment court for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution has cost the House of Representatives P5.8 million in litigation and other incidental expenses.
An Waray Representative Florencio Noel, chairman of the House committee on accounts, said that of the amount, P4,432,739 had been liquidated while P1.38 million still had to be accounted for.
The expenses were about P800,000 more than the P5 million earlier approved by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Belmonte based the approved budget on the 2000 expenses incurred by the House during the impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada.
Noel said the Speaker had also allotted a P5-million budget for the prosecution of then impeached Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez who later opted to resign.
The party-list lawmaker said that half of the expenses during Corona’s trial was spent on food for members of the prosecution, their private counsels and staff, the House impeachment secretariat, media people and guests.
The rest were spent on office supplies, reimbursements for gas, and rental of equipment.
Noel said the budget for the Corona trial was justified since the hearings ran for five months while the Estrada trial only lasted two months.
Noel said a final disbursement report would be released to the media after it shall have been submitted to the Speaker.
Noel expressed the hope that the amount and the time spent by the House to prosecute Corona would yield a good result, referring to the Chief Justice’s conviction.
“I hope it’s worth it,” he said.