National news: CJ Corona’s Goose Cooked, Colmenares Avers
Even if Chief Justice Renato Corona is able to prove that his various dollar accounts in banks do not amount to $10-M, as witnesses have claimed specifically, the National Ombudsman, former SC Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, but either smaller or bigger than that claimed by the various parties in the impeachment complaint being now heard before senator-judges who have comprised itself into the impeachment court, his goose will still be cooked, prosecutor and Congressman Neri Colmenares said in an interview yesterday morning at the Organic Restaurant.
And it is noticeable that the defense is no longer saying that the dollar deposits of CJ Corona does not exist, but that the figure cited by the witnesses is not correct. The major point in the issue is that he possesses dollar accounts which could either be proven by officials of banks where the deposits were placed, or by officials of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) which provided her the data related to the dollar accounts, Carpio-Morales had earlier said, during her testimony in the Senate. Earlier, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile supported Carpio-Morales in her efforts at disclosure of the dollar accounts saying, she has powers to air and disclose these, as stipulated in the Constitution.
The members of the defense panel of CJ Corona are no longer saying there are no dollar deposits and that he has no dollars. They are now making diversionary tactics saying the figure may not be true or that technically, these dollar deposits cannot be divulged as provided for by law. Or that the documents related to dollar deposits of the Chief Justice is similar in style to documents possessed by whistleblower Harvey Keh, implying that Carpio-Morales got her own documents from a polluted source.
And observing the actuations of the chief of the defense counsels, former Justice Serafin Cuevas, he has not declared that Corona does not have dollar deposits. The defense counsels may have been deluded by Corona who possibly told them that he has no dollar accounts. The body language of Cuevas seems to indicate that he has not seen anything to warrant the defense’ suspicions that the testimony of Carpio-Morales had any holes or not, whether small or gaping holes.
Colmenares emphatically stated that all of these boil down to unexplained wealth, because everything already said during the impeachment hearing, seem to indicate that the actual events related to the deposits of dollar or otherwise which were not subjected to so much questioning by the defense, ties Corona to unexplained wealth.
"The supposed unexplained wealth of the chief justice, in the form of dollar or peso accounts amounting to about P31-M, does not match figures in Corona’s Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SAL-N).
Under the law, which all public and government officials has to comply with, the law to declare their SAL-N is comprehensive. One cannot say he should not declare his SAL-N because some of these assets or liabilities do not belong to me and that some people will retrieve or be kept by Corona their assets sooner or later. For one, the claim that a certain condominium one which was acquired has a defect is not reason enough to say it being so, it is not a viable asset.
The only way to disprove the dollar accounts is for the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to indeed, debunk so that the dollar accounts does not exist.
Colmenares who is selling a house their family owns in Villamonte Village using borrowed money spent for their ailing mom, opined that if Corona is not eventually convicted, this will not augur very well, for the justice system because complications, primarily people’s trust in it, could not be sustained.
People may say that small fries, who are easily convicted because they have no power or influence, this is patently unfair.
An investigation of the movement of Corona’s huge assets transpired in 2004, during the period when then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her family members and officials in her administration, called serious questions related to irregularities including plunder in her rule. Former PGMA wielded political power for nine years because when former President Joseph Estrada was ousted in another impeachment trial, she assumed three years of his unfinished term of office. This, plus her election and her mandate of another six years lengthened her terms in office.
The main thing for Chief Justice Corona to escape the verdict of history is to successfully rebut the issues against him including the tens of millions of dollar accounts uncovered and the still millions of millions of pesos in deposits.
Corona also faces issues related to the family of his wife’s claim that he has, through manipulations, managed to divert their family’s assets including monies to their own accounts and which seriously tarnished his and his family’s moral standing in society.
The House’ prosecution panel is preparing its summation of the issues related to the impeachment trial of CJ Corona and that by June, the trial could be over.
The Chief Justice is to take the witness stand Tuesday next week, his defense counsels say.*