MANILA, Philippines (6th UPDATE) - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales told the impeachment court on Monday that her information about Chief Justice Renato Corona's alleged $10 million in aggregate value came from a report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Morales said her order to Corona asking him to explain $10 million in bank deposits came from a 17-page report of the AMLC, and not from the complaints filed against Corona before the Ombudsman.
She told the court she did not see it necessary to inform Corona of the AMLC report when she ordered him to explain the supposed amount. "He could have filed a bill of particulars to seek explanation," she said, when asked by lead counsel Serafin Cuevas.
Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada and private prosecutor Mario Bautista then asked the court for copies of the AMLC report.
The private complainants, including Akbayan leaders Risa Hontiveros and Walden Bello, earlier said they never mentioned $10 million in the complaints filed against the chief justice. Corona has denied having $10 million.
After Carpio Morales disclosed that it was based on an AMLC report and a brief exchange between lead counsel Serafin Cuevas and private prosecutor Mario Bautista, Cuevas ended his direct examination.
On cross examination, Carpio Morales explained the AMLC report shows there were 705 transactions in the bank accounts.
She said there is also a 4-page document which reflects the summaries of the peso and dollar accounts.
Cuevas earlier asked if Morales knew if the alleged $10 million was not included in the verified complaint of the prosecution.
She answered, “I did not nitpick the impeachment articles, your honor.”
Cuevas then said: “So if I tell you now that it is not one of those charges embodied in any articles of impeachment, you are not in a position to deny or contradict the presentation?”
Morales said it was with more reason then that she conduct further investigation.
Cuevas asked: “And the idea is also for impeachment?” She said: “Possibly for impeachment in December.”
'Organized, systematic attempt vs Corona'
In a press conference during the short break, defense lawyer Rico Quicho said the work of the Ombudsman – vis-à-vis the AMLC – “is part of an organized, systematic attempt against Corona.”
He said the public should not be shocked anymore about such reports, citing the case of the prosecution's claim that they got their information on Corona's dollar deposits from a "small lady."
Defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador added they were in a hard situation because “we are up against a lot of [government] agencies.”
They also noted the court has yet to determine the contents of the 17-page document.
Defense spokesperson Karen Jimeno noted that the document may contain transactional information, which means that the $10 million could have been moved over time.
The Ombudsman may have added all these transactions to arrive at $10 million, she said.
Salvador added the court has yet to determine if the document is admissible.
Senate President Juan Enrile earlier said the role of the AMLC and how it got the information could be questioned outside the trial.