Defense witnesses further prove Corona’s culpability – House prosecution

March 16, 2012 9:44 am 

MANILA, March 15 – Instead of clearing Chief Justice Renato Corona from any wrongdoing, the House prosecution panel on Thursday said that witnesses presented by Corona’s lawyers had in fact proved his culpability.

Marikina Rep. Romero “Miro” Quimbo said that the three defense witnesses who testified to the income accrued by the Chief Magistrate in a 9-year period tend to show that Corona, according to the prosecution’s own calculations, earned a total of P26.69 million from 2002 to 2010.

The three witnesses he was referring to were chief judicial staff officer Araceli Bayuga, Atty. Irene Guevarra from the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and Atty. Girlie Salarda from the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

The three, Quimbo said, presented evidence to prove that the Chief Justice earned a lot from the said period to cover the purchase of several questioned properties.

However, he said that “in actuality, only P11.5 million represented Corona’s total salaries and other emoluments while the rest were all allowances.”

“So if you look at it, the more than P15 million in allowances that he said he also earned are not actually earnings,” the House prosecution spokesman noted.

He said Corona’s allowances, which were testified by the witnesses, come in the form of extraordinary miscellaneous expense, monthly expense allowances from the SET and HRET, expense allowance from the Judicial Bar council, and per diem allowances among others.

These allowances, he noted, required the necessary certification from Corona that he duly signed which, in a sense, certifies that the expenditures to be reimbursed without the need of presenting receipts are necessary and were incurred by reason of and in furtherance of the performance of the functions and duties of Corona’s position.

“Even by their own witness, Atty. Guevarra, it was clearly stated that allowances cannot be taken home and should only be spent in accordance with the purpose for which they have been given, which is essentially to run the office,” Quimbo said.

“These allowances cannot be used to buy condominiums, a lot in La Vista nor a penthouse. So by any stretch of any imagination, all the actual salaries that he has been able to make in the last nine years are not enough to buy the properties that he now owns,” he added.

Quimbo further noted that in the last three days of trial proceedings, what the defense was trying to prove was that the Chief Justice does not have ill-gotten wealth.

“If you remember, we removed the paragraph on ill-gotten wealth, paragraph 2.4, because the impeachment court said it would not be taken up because that is a conclusion of law that arises once you are able to present evidence that a public official has acquired assets that is grossly disproportionate to his salary,” he said.

The prosecution was able to present evidence that Corona owns P32 million worth of properties acquired in an eight-year period, cash amounting to P31.9 million with Philippine Savings Bank and substantial dollar accounts which Corona refuses to release up to this date, he said.

“We have clearly established that the Chief Justice was able to acquire wealth that could not be explained by his salary. We have presented sufficient evidence because otherwise the defense would not be presenting plenty of evidence about his earnings for the last nine years or so,” Quimbo said. (PNA)



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