Defense: Corona not required to declare bank accounts in SALN
MANILA, Philippines–Chief Justice Renato Corona did not declare his peso and dollar deposits in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) to the public because he was not required to do so, his lawyer said at the resumption of the impeachment trial on Monday.
“We just want to state that under the SALN form, there’s no requirement that we must have to indicate any bank deposits or bank accounts and the Chief Justice has not yet made any pronouncement on this point,” defense lawyer Joel Bodegon said.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, at the start of the hearing, asked the defense team if Corona declared all his bank deposits in his SALN.
“Because if Corona did not declare any bank deposits but he admitted having bank deposits, then your client is guilty,” Santiago said.
The senator then asked the defense team to make a written position on the matter.
Before this, Santiago sought clarification from the prosecution team in connection with Article 2 of the impeachment complaint which accuses Corona of allegedly failing to disclose his SALN to the public.
Santiago noted that the heading of Article 2 uses the phrase “failed to disclose…” Corona’s SALN to the public.
But the senator said: “If we’re going to apply this article literally and very strictly, then there’s no more case because it turns out now that he (Corona) disclosed his SALN as provided by law,’ said the senator.
“So in my view, the Article is suffering from at least incompetence impartiality,’’ Santiago said.
Santiago also pointed out that under Article II, Section 17 of the Constitution, a public official or employee upon assumption of office is mandated not only to submit a declaration under oath of his SALN but also to disclose the same to the public.
“Two requirements; First, he declared. Second, he disclosed. It appears now that the Chief Justice both declared and disclosed so the case is closed.”
Santiago also asked the prosecution team to make in writing its position on the issue.
Senator Joker Arroyo stood up and posed this question to both the defense and prosecution teams: “Is a correctible offense an impeachable offense?”
“Offhand, that’s what I’m thinking. We don’t have precedence, we don’t have a law…that allows correction,” Arroyo said.
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