Without Corona, defense's case will crumble, says Gonzales
MANILA, Philippines - For leaders of the House of Representatives, only Chief Justice Renato Corona can rebut the testimony of the defense panel's own hostile witness, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
House Speaker Sonny Belmonte said, "The most awaited testimony of the court is the testimony of the chief justice and as I've said, I myself personally believes that he will testify because he has no choice. He is the only one who can extricate himself from all of these, if he can ha. And definitely, we will prepare a rigorous examination of CJ, but whether there's a need for rebuttal, it's another thing. Because what is there to rebut? Because we have to admit that everything here in the record is damning for him, including evidences that they have, like for instance, the explanations nila on the Basa-Guidote property, how it was manipulated from one person to another. I don't see it is...Well that's his last chance eh."
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales said, "you have to remember na ang nagatawag kay Ombudsman is, ang defense. So if at all, ang merong obligasyon ngayon to rebut her testimony is the defense itself. Kasi yung mga sinabi naman ni Ombudsman Morales is damaging to the defense. Hindi naman damaging sa prosecution. And you only try to rebut something when it is damaging to your cause and it, on the contrary, it helps the prosecution. Kaya ang meron talagang dapat mag-rebut nito and to disprove their claim will be the defense, to disprove and to rebut their own witness. If he does not take the witness stand, they are surely done."
Gonzales added, "Kasi kahit anong sabihin ng mga abogado niya, kahit anong mga, keso gwapo yang mga yan, keso magaganda yang mga yan, hearsay din naman yung mga sasabihin ng mga yan because only CJ Corona is capable and has the personal knowledge of denying kung ano ba talaga ang mga pumapasok na ebidensiya na 'to."
Gonzales said without Corona, the defense's case will crumble.
"Pero pag hindi nila prinesinta rito si Chief Justice Corona, then that will really spell their end, regardless whether i-present nila ang AMLC or mga banch managers, that's beside the point as far as I'm concerned. But what is indispensable for their cause is siguradong dapat mag-testify dyan si chief justice at magsalita siya at i-explain niya kung ano yung nilalaman nung report ni Ombudsman and after that, tsaka lang kami papasok kung kailangan ba naming mag-rebuttal, depende sa magiging testimony niya."
Ombudsman's documents credible
As this developed, the House also vouched for the credibility of the documents submitted by Morales, which is also the basis for her testimony.
Belmonte gave copies of the report to the media.
"We have to rely on the records given by the authorities...In this particular case, the items were so numerous that it is really quite impossible to, even if she wanted, to verify it, but anyway it is not necessary. It was given to her by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and that's sufficient," he said.
Belmonte left it to the Senate to call officials of the Anti-Money laundering council to authenticate the report of the ombudsman." I think that's up to the Senate to do that. We ourselves have given a copy of the report and we'll give you a copy of the report."
Prosecution spokesman Rep. Sonny Angara warned the defense it will not help this case to summon the AMLC. "Definitely, it will be a disadvantage because the AMLC is just to authenticate the report."
AMLC testimony, a nuclear bomb vs CJ
Gonzales pointed out, " As a legal strategy, kasi ako naman naging practitioner din ako nang matagal eh. I don't believe na ipatatawag ng defense ang AMLC or the branch manager. Ang magpapatawag nito ang mga senador, but definitely it will not come from the defense. Because otherwise kung papatawawg nila yan, kung nabigla na sila sa sinabi ni Ombudsman, eh talagang pag kinonfirm ng AMLC yan, at kasama na mga bank manager eh talaagng parang ano na 'to, nuclear bomb na sasabog na talaga sa mukha nila."
Gonzales, however, warned that the defense was becoming too focused on technicalities. "Kaya makikita niyo sa kanilang mga sinasabi ngayon, sa mga spokesperson nila na kwine-kwestyon nila, there should be a court order, tama ba na nireveal kaagad ito. But the fact remains that the Ombudsman already testified. Nandyan na ang ebidensiya, and considering the historical, yung kaniyang trait ni Ombudsman, eh wala namang record 'to in the past na talagang ano 'to, hindi naman para may dahilan tayo para magsinungaling. So andyan na yan. It remains part of the record regardless of the legal issue, then this is something that CJ and CJ alone can fully explain."
Gonzales said the defense may exploit this as a way to drag the Supreme Court again into the picture. "Kung sasabihin na nila yan, kailangan ang Supreme Court ang mag-decide ng issue na yan, kung pu-pwedeng i-reveal na, kung gagawin ng defense yan na it becomes a legal issue na kailangan pa ng court order muna bago ireveal yan ng AMLC sa Ombudsman, well, edi ibinibigay natin to sa home court advantage ni Chief Justice Corona. Supreme court yan kaya hindi rin pu-pwede at this point na Supreme Court ang magdecide niyan because it's obviously na may suspetya kaagad na maging biased sila in favour of chief justice."