MANILA, Philippines – A defense lawyer of Chief Justice Renato Corona on Wednesday said an Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report presented by the Ombudsman to the Senate was fabricated and contained false information.
“We have studied that already and we can say that it is not accurate. It is fabricated and we will prove that,” defense lawyer Rico Quicho said on ANC’s “Headstart.”
He added: “We do not take solace to the transactions as stated in the documents provided by AMLC because we know that this is false, that this is fabricated and in due time we will be showing the people that the government forces against the Chief Justice are really desperate to pin him down.”
According to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the AMLC report shows that Corona had $12 million in “fresh deposits” spread out in 82 accounts in 5 local banks from 2003-2011.
Morales said she received the report personally from AMLC executive director Vicente Aquino after she inquired about Corona’s dollar accounts, as stated in several complaints filed before her office.
She admitted on Tuesday that she did not verify the information with local banks due to restrictions imposed by Republic Act 6242 or the Foreign Currency Deposits Act.
In the interview, Quicho said the defense team already consulted Corona about the AMLC report.
“We’ve been meeting with our client and we have to keep our mouth shut at the moment because we do not want to preempt the testimony of the Chief Justice,” he said.
He said the AMLC report is similar to the Land Registration Authority (LRA) list on Corona's 45 alleged properties, which turned out to be bloated.
Quicho said the defense is still evaluating whether or not to summon AMLC head Aquino or the bank managers to testify in the impeachment trial.
“We will be presenting evidence to support our defense and we will be presenting the Chief Justice to once and for all bury all the accusations against him. Whether or not we will call the AMLC or Vic Aquino or we will agree with Miriam Defensor Santiago to subpoena the branch managers…that we are evaluating,” he said.
Presumption of regularity
The defense lawyer also took umbrage against the Ombudsman for presenting an unverified report.
“We were expecting more from the Ombudsman. She came out with the statement that the Chief Justice owns $12 million but where is the evidence to support that? These transactions will not support that claim. It will not buttress or support what is being alleged with the Chief Justice,” he said.
Asked if the AMLC gave false information to the Ombudsman, Quicho said: “If we will look back at the trial, the prosecution came out with a document and it was supposed to have come from a small lady. This is how we cannot trust all these documents. They are trifling with the rights of our client. They are showing documents that have not been verified.”
Meantime, Iloilo Rep. and lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. said there is a presumption of regularity in Morales’ testimony because it was the defense who invited her to testify.
He said the prosecution team will wait for Corona’s testimony before deciding if it will present rebuttal evidence on his accounts.
On 2nd impeach complaint: ‘Tama na’
Quicho said the chief magistrate remains calm amid the persecution he is suffering in the impeachment trial.
“The Chief Justice remains very calm. Kalmadong-kalmadong po si Chief Justice, but of course, we know he is really holding back the anger, frustration. You know as the CJ is responsible and a reputable person, hindi natin siya maririnig na maglabas ng masasakit na salita ngunit siguro maiintindihan natin na siya ay masasaktan sa nangyayari ngayon,” he said.
He also said the government is hell-bent on removing Corona from office as revealed by the Ombudsman’s testimony that a second impeachment complaint may be filed against the chief magistrate if he is acquitted.
“That is very telling…We are ready for this but our plea is – maawa naman po sana sila. Tama na po. Tama na ang isa. Kung sa tingin nila nagkamali si CJ Corona e bakit hindi pa nila inilgay lahat sa verified complaint? Bakit ho tinitingi ang nangyayari ngayon?’ he said.
Quicho said the defense team will no longer present Mrs. Cristina Corona since the Chief Justice has already said he will answer all allegations when he is presented in the trial.
He said the defense had wanted to present Corona on Thursday but admitted that they have no control over the flow of the proceedings.
The defense lawyer refused to say if Corona will sign a waiver that will allow senator-judges to look into his dollar accounts. "We will take that into consideration," he said.