MANILA, Philippines – An interesting development during a break in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona was the reconciliation of the Corona family and their relatives, the Basas.
Footage taken by ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) showed Cristina, Carla and Chief Justice Corona shaking hands and hugging their relatives from the Basa family inside the Senate session hall during a lull in the trial.
Baby Nebrida, a friend of both families, said the reconciliation was totally impromptu and came about through a news report of ANC.
She said a friend, former Antique Governor Sally Zaldivar, texted her about an ANC news report that the Basas were willing to reconcile with the Coronas. This was despite a 30-year intra-corporate dispute between the families over Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc (BGEI).
Nebrida said she talked to Betsy Tanchavez, daughter of Mario Basa and cousin of Cristina, who confirmed the news.
“So I talked to [Mrs.] Tina[Corona] who’s been my friend and we’ve been praying together. I said, ‘Tina, Forgiveness is the way to healing. You have to forgive and then you will be healed. I know it hurts you but don’t you want to reconcile?’ And she said: ‘Of course, of course, I want to reconcile. In fact, I never said anything bad about them with all the things I’ve been reading. I kept quiet because my family is my family. I don’t want to throw my dirty linen around and I value family,’” she said.
She added that Cristina’s daughter, Carla, also came forward and said she missed the Basas. “I miss them. They are my aunts and most of them, I don’t even know them anymore,” she recounted Carla as saying.
When Cristina agreed to the reconciliation, Nebrida said she, former Inquirer columnist Bel Cunanan, and Philippine Star columnist Chit Pedrosa talked to Tanchavez about finally bringing the 2 families together. She said she pushed for the reconciliation during a lull in the trial on Friday since doing it after the hearing would be a spectacle.
“It was on a break and I saw the sincerity of Tina and Carla [Corona]. I went to Betsy’s side and then Ana Basa came to me and said: ‘Actually, I really want to hold CJ and kiss him and wish him luck.’ I asked: ‘Are you sure?’ And she said: ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ So we brought Tina there, middle middle ground so Bel Cunanan, me and Sally and Chit Pedrosa, we were in tears. It was so moving,” she said.
During the break, Mrs. Corona and her daughter, Carla, approached their Basa cousins sitting in the VIP section of the Senate session hall and hugged and kissed them.
‘All’s well that ends well?’
BGEI was put on the spotlight after Corona reported in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) that he had obtained an P11 million cash advance from the company for the purchase of several real properties. The row involved Mrs. Corona’s parents and the 3 Basa siblings, Jose, Mario, and Flor Conception.
Corona, in his testimony last Tuesday, said had no choice but to discuss the family feud. He alleged Cristina’s relatives, led by her uncle Jose, swindled away from the entire clan, specifically from Mrs. Corona's mother, a P2.5-billion lot in Libis, Quezon City.
Despite this, it was his wife that was tagged as the swindler in the media, Corona said. He also described Jose as a “spoiled brat” and “jobless.”
In a press conference after Corona's testimony on Tuesday, one of the daughters of Jose, lambasted the chief justice and called his statement "foul" since their late father cannot defend himself.
Family over money
During the reconciliation, Nebrida said Cristina was already talking about how to settle the ongoing row over BGEI.
“I told her: ‘That’s just money. What is important is your relationship with your family.’ And then she was going to say, making a decision. At this point, you know, they went through so much suffering. Tina, just take it one day at a time. This would be another day. You meet and then you negotiate whatever there is. Just enjoy each other, I said, and forgive,” she said.
“I told Tina, ‘I know it’s very painful but offer it for the acquittal of the chief justice," Nebrida said.
Nebrida said everyone was hugging and kissing each other when the chief justice called to her and asked what was happening. She then told him about the reconciliation and said the Basas also wanted to meet him.
The Basas then walked to Corona, who was still on the witness stand, and also hugged and talked to the chief justice.
“They went through so much. Today is such a blessing. It was not really organized. It was so unexpected and ANC initiated it. That little thing and somebody picked it up,” she said.
She added: “It was also through their own, they are willing to hug each other and reconcile and be one family again. For 30 years, Tina said they haven’t been in touch with each other. For all you know, they had that desire but probably nagkakahiyaan lang sila.”