MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - There are no ifs and buts, Chief Justice Renato Corona should explain his alleged $10 million accounts, President Benigno Aquino III said.
On the sidelines of the 70th commemoration of the Fall of Corregidor, Aquino told reporters “if it’s unexplained, the presumption is it’s ill-gotten,” especially if the bank accounts are not commensurate to how much Corona is receiving as a government official.
He said the question of whether or not to explain the accounts is not even an option. “It’s the law,” he said.
Aquino admitted, however, that he has not seen any document referring to the supposed dollar accounts of Corona and is only limited to what he has read on newspapers.
In an order earlier obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Carpio-Morales said: “This office finds that there is reasonable ground to proceed further with the conduct of an inquiry vis-à-vis the charges that you, during your incumbency as a public officer, accumulated wealth that is purportedly grossly disproportionate to your salary and other lawful income.”
The Ombudsman has yet to disclose the order. Both the prosecution and defense have not seen the copy.
Defense lawyer and spokesperson Ramon Esguerra earlier said, however, that the prosecution will have to pass through obstacles before they are able to present the Ombudsman.
“They have to hurdle the bar. They have to hurdle the ruling of the Senate,” he had said.
He said the allegation from the Ombudsman falls within the purview of provision 2.4 of the impeachment complaint against Corona, which the Senate already quashed.
In an earlier resolution, the senator-judges disallowed prosecutors from submitting evidence on paragraph 2.4 of the Second Article of Impeachment, while allowing the entry of evidence for paragraphs 2.2 and 2.3.
Senator-judges decided to drop article 2.4 of the complaint, or the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Corona, which had been the rallying cry of the prosecution in their effort to seek a conviction for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.
If the prosecution insists on doing so, it would have to amend their complaint, Esguerra said. The same was suggested earlier on by senator-judges to the prosecution, after facing some lambasting because of what some quarters called a defective and rushed complaint.
Meanwhile, Aquino said he has no problem disclosing his newest statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
“It’s available…part of public records,” he said. He added, “it’s not a right not to disclose [the SALN]” as provided in the Constitution.
He said no one has put to question his SALN, “unlike others.” Aquino is referring to Corona.