Corona should show same courage in media under oath in trial—solon
MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona should show the same amount of courage he showed in his media interviews Wednesday and face the impeachment tribunal once his trial resumes next week, House deputy speaker and Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III said on Thursday.
He told reporters that although they respected Corona’s “media-hopping” as his right to express himself, the chief magistrate’s challenge was to do so under oath. “Sana ang mga sinasabi niya ay sabihin under oath [We hope that the things he said he would say again under oath], if he truly believes what he is saying.”
“Tingin ko, kung ano ang ipinapakita niya sa media ay dapat ganun din ang tapang niya para humarap sa impeachment tribunal [In my opinion, he should show the same courage he showed to media when he faces the impeachment tribunal].”
Corona should face the impeachment court and allow himself to be subjected to cross-examination by the prosecution panel. “Dito matetesting kung ang sinasabi niya ay totoo o hindi [This is where he will be tested as to whether he’s saying the truth or not].”
He said that it was up to the Senate if the chief justice would be reprimanded for the interviews but maintained that “it’s not a big issue to us. Sa amin, political process ito at talagang may karapatan magsalita ang sinuman [As far as we’re concerned, since this is a political process, everyone has a right to speak up].”
Reacting to Corona’s statement that he would open his dollar accounts for the trial, Tañada said in Filipino, “We are waiting for it. He always says that he doesn’t come from an ordinary family and we’re saying nothing of that sort. The question is is he declaring the right SALN?”
He said the question on where roughly P19 million, the amount supposedly withdrawn December 12 last year from the chief magistrate’s three accounts at the Philippine Savings Bank, went has not yet been answered.
Tañada cited Corona’s recent radio interview where he admitted withdrawing the money stored in the three accounts on December 12 but did not categorically state where the cash went. He also pointed out the impeachment tribunal’s February 20 transcript wherein PS Bank president Pascual Garcia III told senator-judges that the money from the three bank accounts were “consolidated” in another account.
He questioned then, Corona’s answer to queries on why he withdrew the money, saying “if he lost trust [in the bank], why would he consolidate [the money in another account] on the same day?”
But Tañada was quick to add that they “don’t know if, at a later date, he finally withdrew the entire amount.”
He said that Corona consolidated the money he withdrew to an account which already held P17 million at the time. He said that the withdrawn P19 million, when added to the other account, would add to P36 million.
Meanwhile, Tañada declined to comment further on Corona’s accusation that it was Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s law firm that was carrying out attacks on the chief justice. He merely stated that “it does not look good [to see] magistrates attacking each other.”
He explained, however, that in the event Corona was impeached, “the Senior Associate Justice will, in the absence of the Chief Justice, take his place.”
Tañada called Anna Basa’s story a “blessing in disguise” since the chief magistrate’s wife, Cristina, could now be held accountable.
Despite news that Cristina would take the witness stand, the lawmaker said that it would still be best for the chief justice himself to testify. “He has personal knowledge [on the issues involved].”
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