MANILA, Philippines - A prosecution spokesmen dismissed as "ridiculous and absurd" the claim of Chief Justice Renato Corona's defense team that Republic Act (RA) 6426 or the Foreign Currency Deposit Act exempts public servants from revealing their dollar accounts in their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
Prosecution spokesman Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara said the defense's interpretation of the law runs counter to the intent of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Angara said both laws require all people in government to truthfully disclose their assets and liabilities to the public to determine if they have enriched themselves while in office.
"If we are going to follow the line of the defense panel, all corrupt men and women in government would convert all their monies in foreign currencies because not only you are exempt from a competent course that tracks down your assets, you are also exempted from disclosing these assets in your SALN," Angara explained.
House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said, "Sabi nga po natin simple lang ang mangyayari rito: Lahat ng mga tiwaling opisyal na talagang nagbabalak na magnakaw sa ating bansa ay ililipat lang po nila sa dollar account na maski sa SALN ay hindi na makikita. With that kind of interpretation, there is an admission that there are dollar deposits.”
Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo added, "I never heard such a ridiculous interpretation of a law that seeks transparency and yet you find the very essence of that law, you create that infirmity by providing an exemption which kills it by saying that the Foreign Currency Deposits Act is an exception for reporting purposes.”
Tañada added, "kami ay determinado na hindi mapawalang sala si Ginoong Corona upang siguradihin mapagtitibay ang ating laban sa katiwalian, na sa ngayon ay ang ating pinak-importanteng pamamaraan upang maisabuhay ang kultura ng mabuting pamamahala na naktindig sa kalinawan at pananagutan."
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Javier Colmenares scored the impositions made by the defense team.
"The defense assured the impeachment court that they only have 10 witnesses left. After the sudden tactic of the prosecution to stipulate and admit the irrelevant testimonies of their witnesses, thereby speedily dispensing with their testimonies, the defense suddenly asks for a postponement and delay the trial by not only calling for 11 more witnesses but also refusing to present the witnesses, they have previously summoned. They were obviously caught by surprise and are obviously trying to delay the trial. Worse, they even imposed conditions on the court.”
Colmenares reiterated the prosecution's support to the proposal of Sen. Enrile for a marathon trial in order to speed up the impeachment proceedings.
He also wants the defense to call to the witness stand the Regional Trial Court Branch 216 judge who convicted the uncle of Cristina Corona for libel, which surprisingly led to her supposed acquisition of Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) to find out if he was promised a reward by the Chief Justice.
Separately, Akbayan Representative Walden Bello declared that he is prepared to face the Senate at the appropriate time after his office's receipt of the subpoena to testify at the Impeachment Court.
"The people have the right to know the truth behind Corona's wealth, and upon my return to Manila, I will be more than willing to participate in the Impeachment Trial," Bello announced through a statement while he was in transit to Vienna, Austria.
Bello is one of those who wrote the Ombudsman on Corona's alleged ill gotten wealth.