Solon dares Corona to order release of bank documents

February 19, 2012 11:26 am 

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, Feb. 18 – Oriental Mindoro Rep. Rey Umali challenges Chief Justice Renato Corona to order the release of documents covering his accounts at Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) to address faster the concerns about his true wealth and speed up the impeachment trial.

"The law says account holders can do so and therefore, the Chief Justice can give PSBank such authorization," Umali said during Saturday Forum @ Annabel's in Quezon City.

He said Corona must give his authorization to help explain how he amassed his multi-million peso wealth while serving in government.

"It's a big issue already so the Chief Justice must respond," Umali said.

Prosecutors want Corona's true wealth scrutinized, convinced he did not publicly disclose all of it as government requires.

Defense team spokesperson Karen Jimeno reassured Corona's willingness to disclose details about the accounts when it's time for him to do so.

"He'll open up when his defense team presents its side," she said during the forum.

She said Corona had not spoken on the matter yet since the prosecution was still presenting before the Senate impeachment court evidence against the Chief Justice.

Defense lawyer Rico Quicho said Corona would first wait for the prosecution to finish presenting its evidence.

"We must follow the process," Quicho said during the forum.

Umali clarified what the prosecution wanted was for Corona to give PSBank his authorization so concerns regarding the accounts there can be settled, however.

"We're not asking him to provide evidence," Umali said.

He noted developments already warrant release of documents on Corona's PSBank accounts.

"What's unfair if Corona gives his consent for the bank to release such documents? Senators are already asking for these anyway," Umali said.

Earlier, Umali said a "small lady" handed him at the Senate documents on Corona's bank accounts.

He's standing by his story.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada reportedly wants the lady concerned to appear before the impeachment court.

Bayan Muna partylist representative Teddy Casiño believes the impeachment trial will help boost the administration's campaign for good governance.

"Through this, we can raise the standard of public accountability to what it should be," he said at the forum.

He noted it would be a waste of impeachment time, effort and resources if public officials could not be truly accountable.

"It'll be hypocrisy if we return to business as usual," he said.

To truly promote accountability, lawyer Arsenio Bonifacio from the group Advocates for the Rule of Law believes all lawmakers must open to the public their respective tax records as well as statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

"It's time for them to show these and to explain how they acquired wealth," he said during the forum.

He said doing so would help raise public accountability. (PNA) RMA/CJT/utb

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