You’re committing a ‘fatal error,’ Enrile warns prosecution panel | Inquirer News

You’re committing a ‘fatal error,’ Enrile warns prosecution panel

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 01:37 AM February 14, 2012

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday warned the prosecution that it was committing a “fatal error” for its apparent failure to gather evidence against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“It is your responsibility. In fact, I tell you—and I’m sorry to say this frankly—your procedure, it seems to suggest to me as a presiding officer, that you have no evidence,” Enrile told private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio.


“You are gathering evidence by requesting a subpoena from this honorable court. And I warn you that this is going to be fatal error on your part,” he continued.

Enrile, the Senate impeachment court’s presiding officer, made the comment after Custodio admitted that the prosecution did not request the appearance on the witness stand of Annabelle Tiongson, the branch manager of the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) on Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.


Under grilling by Sen. Franklin Drilon, Tiongson admitted that Corona opened five different peso time deposits in the bank from 2007 to 2010.

But before Drilon could pounce on the witness, Serafin Cuevas, Corona’s lead counsel, challenged the propriety of Drilon’s questioning, pointing out that neither the prosecution nor the defense had called Tiongson as witness.

Cuevas also argued that Tiongson was summoned only to testify on the alleged leak of the documents pertaining to Corona’s alleged dollar account in PS Bank Katipunan branch.

The documents, which the prosecution attached to its motion seeking to subpoena Corona’s bank records, were purportedly handed to Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali by a “small lady.”

At one point, Cuevas asked Enrile why Tiongson was testifying and if she was Drilon’s witness, stressing that Custodio already stated that she was not a witness for the prosecution.

“Here is a witness who has been examined by … Drilon. There is nobody who claims her to be a witness. We cannot even prosecute her for perjury,” Cuevas said.

Enrile then told Custodio that the records showed that it was the prosecution who requested the Senate to summon Tiongson and order her to present Corona’s supposed bank records.


“You should have asked the court to quash the subpoena,” Enrile told Custodio.

After several exchanges, Custodio subsequently moved to make the bank official a prosecution witness.

Tiongson, answering questions from Custodio, revealed that Corona separately opened five peso time deposits amounting to over P23 million from 2007 to 2010.

Spurious document

If was not clear, however, if the accounts were still active and if Corona maintained them at the same time. But Tiongson admitted that Corona’s accounts earned a higher interest than a regular savings account.

Enrile also asked the Rep. Niel Tupas to explain within 24 hours how the prosecution got hold of a purportedly spurious bank document after Tiongson testified that the paper did not come from the bank.

“If it is a fake document, then I think that it is proper to cancel the subpoena,” Enrile declared.

Sen. Francis Escudero asked Tiongson to compare the bank records attached by the prosecution to its motion for subpoena, with the original documents in the bank’s possession.

“All we are asking is if that is a faithful reproduction of what you have in the bank to find out whether the prosecution gave us a fake document. Are they fooling us? Of if it was leaked,” he told the witness in Filipino.

If the bank documents would be proven to be fake or to have been acquired through illegal means, the matter would have serious implications in the complexion of the trial, according to defense lawyers Tranquil Salvador and Rico Paolo Quicho.

“This is what we have been saying all along, that kind of evidence is inadmissible. All we did the past few days, these past weeks would be wasted,” Salvador said in Filipino in a press conference after the trial.

“At the end of the day, even if (the testimony) would not be stricken out, it would not be inadmissible when the time comes for it to be formally offered as evidence,” Salvador added.

Quicho said, “What we have here now is either a spurious document or a leaked document, either way the prosecution really needs to explain.”

Quicho added that because this document was used and submitted before the impeachment court without being verified or studied, “this has hit the heart of the banking industry.”

Quicho said that if the document was taken without the permission of the bank or the owner “it is automatically illegal.” With reports from Christian V. Esguerra and Michael Lim Ubac of Philippine Daily Inquirer, Matikas Santos of

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