Maceda: CJ won't use right vs self-incrimination

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at May 22 2012 11:26 AM | Updated as of May 23 2012 12:19 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Ambassador and Senate President Ernesto Maceda believes Chief Justice Reynato Corona will answer all questions thrown his way without using his right against self-incrimination.

In an interview with ANC, Maceda said using the right, though a guarantee for any accused, may have a negative connotation.

“If the assessment at this time seems to be a conviction with 16 votes thereabouts, it’s his last chance to clear himself and convince judges he’s still deserving to be retained,” he said.

He said the issue now all boils down to how Corona will explain the supposed dollar accounts in his name.

Maceda does not think the defense will still dispute that Corona has dollar deposits, but not as much as what Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales earlier alleged.

“I don’t believe he has 82 dollar accounts, it does not make sense,” he said.

He said “most everybody in this country with money has dollar accounts.”

Bankers interviewed also said these dollar accounts are used as a hedge tool amid the fluctuating foreign exchange. If deposits are placed in a money market tool, a fund manager usually invests these in several interest-yielding placements.

FCDU privacy provision

Maceda said he does not know how Corona will explain the non-disclosure of the dollar assets in the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). “But [maybe] he will fall back on the [Basa Guidote Enterprises Inc.] and say [it’s not his].”

Some of the property purchases were loans from the proceeds of the sale of a BGEI lot, which is owned by the family of Corona’s wife Cristina.

He said, however, that the non-disclosure of the dollar deposits in the SALN is protected by the Foreign Currency Deposit Act.

“You’re not supposed to declare, because it will remove the [essence] of the secrecy provision,” he said.

This was also mouthed earlier on by retired Bureau of Internal Revenue Estrella Martinez and constitutionalist Joaquin Bernas. BIR chief Kim Henares, who also earlier testified against Corona, believes otherwise.

Will he himself not include the dollar deposits in his own SALN? Maceda said “Yes, because there’s the provision in the law.”

He said senators and other government officials would “naturally” not disclose also their dollar deposits because of the law.

This bone of contention will be dealt with, however, during the oral arguments after the defense finishes its case.

“I would tend to favor the strict interpretation of the law,” he said.

He said the provision was created to protect investments coming from foreigners, who have bolstered the country’s dollar reserves.