Defense: Corona bank accounts from Basa-Guidote firm
MANILA, Philippines—Lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona have begged off from explaining why the money deposited by the Chief Justice and his wife, Cristina, in at least three accounts with Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) came from Basa-Guidote Enterprise (BGE) Inc.
They were also tight-lipped on why the Chief Justice closed at least three PSBank peso accounts totaling P32.6 million on Dec. 12, 2011, the same day 188 members of the House of Representatives signed the articles of impeachment.
At a briefing Thursday, lawyer Tranquil Salvador III confirmed that Basa-Guidote Enterprise, which was declared insolvent by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2003, was owned by the family of Cristina.
“We will explain that at the right time,” said Salvador, but could not say why the money ended up with several PSBank accounts belonging to the Chief Justice.
One of the properties of Basa-Guidote in Manila was expropriated in 2001 for P34 million, after it was sold to the city government of Manila.
The said check was marked as evidence by the prosecution last month.
Salvador confirmed that a check worth P34 million was deposited in the accounts of his client with PSBank.
But the defense panel refused to divulge other details of the company and the bank accounts, explaining that this might “touch on the merits” of impeachment case and the ownership dispute pending with a regional trial court.
Said defense spokesperson Karen Jimeno:
“It’s not (prudent) to comment now because this goes to the merits of the case and evidence to be presented. What you can take into account is that the wife of Chief Justice Corona, Mrs. Corona, is almost sole owner of BGE.”
Salvador admitted that the defense was “protecting that (check) because it belongs to Basa-Guidote. We have to be very candid with you—maybe we need to say this.
“Although it is their company … among family (members of Basa-Guidote), there is a pending case. So you will have to protect that because at some point in time, everything will be accounted for. All of that will be scrutinized,” he said.
At the trial Thursday, PSBank Katipunan branch manager Annabelle Tiongson testified that she received a letter from Cristina authorizing her, with a manager’s check, to withdraw money from his accounts.
She did not say how much was withdrawn on Dec. 12, 2011, the day Corona was impeached, prompting the impeachment court to issue a subpoena on Cristina’s peso accounts.
Told that the timing of the closure of the accounts was suspect, Salvador surmised that “considering the situation” it could have been a “personal” decision on the part of the Corona couple.
“What we’re saying is (the check is) part and has a relation to the PSBank accounts. When the right time comes, we will issue details,” said Salvador.—With a report from Lucy Swinnen
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