Newspaper clippings can trigger Ombudsman to probe erring gov't official — defense witness

May 16, 2012 9:45 pm 

By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.

MANILA, May 16 — Lawyer Emmanuel "Noli" Santos, a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, told the Senate Impeachment Court that newspaper clippings can be attached in a complaint that can trigger the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) to conduct an investigation and build a case against an erring government official.

Defense counsel Jose "Judd" Roy III presented Santos before the Senate Impeachment Court as the Defense's third and last witness for Wednesday's trial on the impeachment case filed against Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

The defense qualified Santos as a "hostile witness".

Senate President and Senate Impeachment Court Presiding Judge Juan Ponce Enrile considered Santos as a "hostile witness" for the defense.

Under direct-examination by Roy, Santos said that he was in the education business since 1980 as chairman of the International Academy of Management and has been a lawyer since 1961.

Santos said that newspaper clippings could be attached in a complaint that could trigger the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) to conduct a probe and build a case against an erring government official.

In the practice of Ombudsman Law in other countries, Santos said, mere newspaper clippings were enough for the Ombudsman to build a case.

Santos said that he felt that intellectual integrity compelled him to file the unexplained wealth case against Chief Justice Corona before the Ombudsman.

However, Santos said, he did not bother to gather evidence for the complaint they filed before the Ombudsman against the Chief Justice, because he was very busy.

Santos said that he wanted to highlight that the salary of Chief Justice Corona was grossly disproportionate to the bank accounts reported in the newspapers.

He said that it was apparent that there was no allegation about the dollar accounts of the Chief Justice.

Santos confirmed that he did not verify the newspaper reports on Corona, adding that, he did not personally investigate the newspaper reports on Corona's alleged accounts.

He said that he bothered to get information from other newspapers aside from the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Inquirer), adding that, they used the Inquirer because they (Inquirer) supported them when they fought against the authoritarian regime.

The prosecution did not conduct a cross-examination on Santos.

The defense, which is headed by retired SC Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, asked for the continuance of the impeachment trial on Tuesday, May 21, 2012 at 2 p.m. in order to prepare for the testimony of Chief Justice Corona, for which, House lead prosecutor Iloilo City Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. posed no objection.

Enrile granted the request of the defense.

Trial adjourned at 5:36 p.m. and will resume on Tuesday, May 21, 2012 at 2 p.m. (PNA) dct/RMA/PTR

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