Day 17 trial ends early; JPE turns 88 | Inquirer News

Day 17 trial ends early; JPE turns 88

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 01:12 AM February 15, 2012

MR. VALENTINE Senate President and impeachment court presiding judge Juan Ponce Enrile is greeted by Senator Loren Legarda on his 88th birthday before the start of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. SENATE POOL

Chief Justice Renato Corona’s lawyers on Tuesday withdrew from a joint examination with the prosecution of the records of his accounts in the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), even as the Senate ordered the presentation of his monthly bank statements there for today’s trial.

The trial adjourned early at 4:30 p.m. in deference to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who marked his 88th birthday, and the celebration of Valentine’s Day.


“Today is February 14, your honor, the natal day of the presiding officer of this court. In addition to that this is Valentine’s Day. Maybe you can afford us a chance to spend time with our family? In short, I’m asking for a declaration of a cessation of hostilities,” chief defense counsel Serafin Cuevas told the court.


Chief prosecutor Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr. joined the manifestation.

Enrile said in jest: “Thank you for being kind to a man in the predeparture room.”

Corona’s checking account with BPI Ayala branch had been used by the Chief Justice as a “disbursing account” to buy real estate property, including a unit in The Bellagio I in Fort Bonifacio, according to a member of the prosecution team, who asked not to be named.

The defense backed out of the joint inspection of his bank records for fear that this would open a “can of worms,” specifically the transactions made by Corona, said the prosecution member.

Only one witness, BPI branch manager Leonora Dizon, appeared on an otherwise brief Day 17 of the impeachment trial, testifying that Corona had no other accounts with its branch on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City apart from the peso account.

The court also granted the prosecution’s motion discharging Marissa Bondoc, the corporate secretary of Camp John Hay Development Corp., as witness after she resigned from her post.


During the questioning of Dizon, Cuevas clarified that the defense lawyers merely asked for a breakdown of the peso account, but did not declare they were willing to disclose these since they had not conferred with the Chief Justice.

“After he (Corona) assured that we have these documents with us, we find no necessity to go over the documents in the possession of the banks,” Cuevas told the impeachment court. “We have chosen to withdraw, and we can’t be compelled by the prosecution, much less by a single senator-judge to do whatever is not in accordance with our postulation, articulation, your honor.”

He added: “We can’t be dictated upon, I beg permission of the court, on how we should handle the defense for our client … Neither the prosecution can tell us what to do.”

Monthly bank statements

Private prosecutor Arthur Lim pointed out to the court that the issue of joint inspection was left hanging in last Thursday’s hearing.

He said there were actually three sets of documents required by the court from the bank officials, and it was the defense who brought up Corona’s monthly statements.

The defense and the prosecution last Thursday initially agreed to jointly examine records of Corona’s accounts in the BPI branch on Ayala Avenue, but Cuevas requested to be given until Monday to decide on this after getting a call from Corona who said he has some of these accounts.

Sen. Franklin Drilon asked Dizon if she brought the copies of the monthly statements of Corona’s peso accounts from 2005 to 2010, but the latter said she did not because she was waiting for instructions when to present these.

Enrile then ordered her to bring the documents for today’s resumption of the trial.

Not an ordinary court

Under questioning by Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, Dizon said Corona did not have any related accounts such as time deposits, certificates of deposit, settlement accounts, investment management and trust accounts, unit investment trust funds and mutual funds, saying these were nonexistent.

He said he wondered why the defense seemed so protective of this.

Cuevas repeatedly posed objections to Dizon resuming her testimony and presenting documents, saying she was through with it, but he was overruled by Enrile.

“There’s no motion, there’s no ground, no justification [for the recall of the witness], whatsoever,” Cuevas said. But Enrile said there was a request from a senator-judge to recall her to the witness stand, and it was her or his prerogative to ask questions.

Cuevas responded: “That is our apprehension, and very real because every time we make a manifestation against the direct examination made by a member of this court, we’re overruled and this is because we can’t object. So what will be our remedy if the judge-senator proceeds to ask questions which to us are objectionable?

‘Like private prosecutors

“We cannot just go to the Supreme Court for relief against that irregularity … They’re not merely acting as judges, they’re practically appearing to us as private prosecutors.”

Enrile responded by saying that this was not an ordinary court, and that the members were legislators assigned to play another function in the impeachment court.

“We’re not one mind. We’re 23 minds in this court. That’s why I call it a body of jurors… As a body of jurors, each one has his own perceptions, and interests in this case to be able to make a final judgment on this case and I’m not in a position to deny that right to any member of this body of jurors,” he said.

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The defense lawyers said they had filed a manifestation to quash the subpoena for the documents, but Enrile said the accounts cited in the subpoena were very specific.

TAGS: Day 17, Renato Corona

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