Thursday, 10 May 2012 13:25
The mounting calls for embattled Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona to testify in his own impeachment trial indicate the strength of evidence presented by the House of Representatives prosecution panel, which could only be refuted by no less than the top magistrate himself.
"We in the prosecution believe that unless rebutted or satisfactorily explained by the defense, our evidence is enough to sustain a conviction," said Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, one of prosecution's spokesman in a press briefing late Tuesday afternoon.
Angara explained that pressure was building for the chief justice to take the witness stand because up to this day his defense counsels had not presented a single evidence to prove his innocence.
"The defense has been missing the target. His (Corona) legal counsels are not hitting the bull’s eyes," the Aurora solon said, as he noted that the senator-judges themselves had started to notice that Corona’s lawyers were actually presenting evidence and witnesses that had no bearing on the case at all.
Angara maintained that the chief magistrate was facing a very strong case and would be risking a conviction if he chose not to testify.
"Strong prosecution evidence plus no-Corona-testimony equals conviction," he said.
Senator-judges and even the public wanted Corona to appear before the impeachment tribunal to clear up the non-declaration of his expensive pieces of real properties and peso and dollar accounts in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), and in light of the ongoing investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman into the chief justice’s US$ 10 million allegedly stashed in a bank.
In Tuesday's impeachment trial, defense panel lawyer Jose "Judd" Roy III assured that the chief magistrate would appear and testify before the impeachment court to defend himself.
Roy III said that if the impeachment court were inclined that they would address the issue of US$ 10 million, the defense would willingly confront the issue.
Meanwhile, the defense panel said the testimonies of a clerk of court and a sheriff in Day 36 of the impeachment trial of the chief justice firmly established that the P11 million loan entry in his (Corona) 2004 SALN is privately owned, debunking the prosecution charges that the top magistrate accumulated ill-gotten wealth.
Tuesday’s trial started with the testimony of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 216 clerk of court Lucita Masangkay-Cristi when she said under oath that the lower court ruled in favor of Mrs. Cristina Corona, wife of the chief justice, in two counts of libel against her uncle, the late Jose Maria Basa III, Raymunda Basa, et al., awarding her P500,000 as civil indemnity.
To buttress her testimony, the defense panel presented Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 216 sheriff Joseph Bisnar.
It was Bisnar who implemented the public auction and sale of shares of Jose Maria Basa III and Raymunda Basa in the Basa Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) in September 2003.
Daughter Carla Corona-Castillo bought majority of shares in a public auction done with full transparency.
Mrs. Cristina Corona’s grandmother, Rosario, was a major stockholder as per the Corporate Auditor in 1985.
Subsequently in 1990, Deeds of Conveyance showed Jose Maria Basa III bought the shares of other stockholders. This information was the basis of Jose Maria Basa’s claims of ownership of some 4,729 shares of stocks as well as Raymunda Basa’s ownership of 110 shares.
On the one hand, when Mrs. Corona’s mother, the Corporate Secretary at that time, was abroad, in her absence, Mrs. Corona, as the Assistant Corporate Secretary, signed the Declaration of Shares of Stocks and Stockholdings as claimed by Jose Maria Basa III and Raymunda Basa to have acquired them (without prejudice to the probate proceedings).
In said document, the defense said it is not necessary to state stock certificate number but only number of shares claimed to be owned by the stockholder.
When asked by a senator-judge if he knew the personal circumstances of the parties, including their relation to a certain Justice Renato Corona, Bisnar replied in the negative.
Bisnar said he only learned about these after the public auction.
He likewise mentioned in the course of the trial that he served the writ of execution at the address of Jose Maria Basa III and Raymunda Basa in Libis, Quezon City and the caretaker received the Writ of Execution.
Bisnar also provided a copy in 901-905 Lepanto Street, Sampaloc, which is the address on record of stockholders Jose Maria Basa III and Raymunda Basa under the Articles of Incorporation.
The defense said the Minutes of Meetings of the corporation shows that Mrs. Corona was designated Vice President and upon the death of the corporation’s President, Mrs. Corona became the Acting President.
She first served as Assistant Corporate Secretary in 1986 and then Vice President in 1987.
Upon assuming the corporation’s Presidency, she received the Notice of Garnishment issued by the Quezon City RTC.
Defense spokesman Atty. Rico Quicho said the decision of the Quezon City RTC is final and executory.
"The Basa family had remedies to stop the execution of the BGEI shares sale, including hiring the best lawyers of their liking, but there was inaction on their part," he said.
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