MANILA, Philippines - So what if Chief Justice Renato Corona has a condominium unit worth P14.51 million in The Fort, Taguig City?
This seemed to be the message of Supreme Court Spokesman Jose Midas Marquez as he defended the chief justice from allegations that he might have gotten the condo unit with ill-gotten wealth.
Speaking to ABS-CBN, Marquez said House impeachment prosecutors did not say if Corona's 303.5-square meter unit in The Bellagio was acquired illegally. He said prosecutors should also prove their allegations that Corona has 3 more posh condo units.
"Dapat nating isipin, hindi sa pagmamayabang, ang ating Punong Mahistrado buong buhay niya sa Ateneo nag-aaral yan. Hindi naman mura magpaaral sa Ateneo. Pagkatapos ng kanyang pag-aabogasya, nag-master's pa yan sa Harvard, sa Boston. Aba e, hindi rin mura yun. Siguro naman, capable bumili ng condominium unit ang ating Punong Mahistrado. May kaya. Hindi ko sinasabing milyonaryo o bilyonaryo pero may kaya naman," he told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.
"Ano ba ang dahilan ng pagpapalabas? Para ba sabihin na ipakita lang sa taumbayan na meron siyang condominium? Masama ba yung bumili ng condominium sa Fort Bonifacio?"
Marquez said Corona is siding with the call of several senators that the House impeachment prosecutors should present their evidence in the Senate trial and not through the media. He added, however, that Corona cannot do anything if the prosecution panel decides to break the Senate rules of impeachment.
For his part, impeachment panel spokesman Erin Tañada said the disclosure of Corona's condo unit forms part of their complaint that the Chief Justice should disclose his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
He said that while Corona admitted owning a condo unit, he did not say in his reply to the impeachment complaint where the condo could be found.
"The prosecution thought to put a face to the name since there is already an admission," he said.
He also said that presentation of Corona's SALN would lay to rest questions about the Chief Justice's assets.
Tañada denied that the impeachment prosecutors broke the Senate impeachment rules when it called for a press conference about Corona's condo especially since the trial had yet to start.
He also said the prosecutors took a "calculated risk" when they decided to release the evidence to the media.
"In terms of strategy, nawawala yung surprise element ng prosecution panel. Kung ito yung hakbang na tatahakin nila e calculated risk yun," he said.
He also said the impeachment prosecutors are willing to take any sanctions meted out by the Senate once the trial starts on January 16.