MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Chief Justice Renato Corona's wife is not going to Europe this weekend, one of his lawyers said Thursday night.
Atty. Karen Jimeno told ANC's "Tamano Perspective" that Corona's wife, Cristina, denied the rumor that circulated via text messages earlier in the day.
"Today, the defense was having a meeting and several media people were also asking me that question if Mrs. Corona had booked a flight. They even had a flight number, the date, supposedly going to Europe," Jimeno said.
"Mrs. Corona, I asked her and she said it's really not true. Again, I don't know what the purpose of the rumor is, if it's propaganda," she said.
"Simple answer, is it's not true and Mrs. Corona herself denied it," she added.
ABS-CBN News earlier received one such text message which implied the Corona family was going to flee to a European country that has no extradition treaty with the Philippines.
"Pls verify.Cristina Corona bookd for Qatar Airways,flight QR647 to Barcelona, May19,620 PM. Do we have extradition w/ Spain?" said the text message.
The chief justice is scheduled to take the witness stand in his impeachment trial on Tuesday to debunk the Ombudsman's allegations that he has more than $12 million stashed away in 82 bank accounts.
Corona on witness stand
Carpio-Morales told the impeachment court earlier this week that her data is based on information submitted to her office by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Jimeno said Corona is the best person to disprove the AMLC report.
"We considered calling other witnesses such as people from AMLC but we decided the Chief Justice can address the issues," she said.
The chief justice will be the defense's last witness, according to his lawyers.
Ombudsman move not a blunder
Jimeno said presenting the Ombudsman as a hostile witness was not a major blunder by the defense.
She said testimonies made by Ombudsman and complainants Risa Hontiveros and Harvey Keh will allow Corona to debunk their allegations.
However, she declined to reveal what Corona's testimony will be with regard to his bank accounts and properties.
"I can't tell you now how (Corona) will address the issues because we might go into the merits of the case," Jimeno said.
"We have not decided on how long his testimony will be. We're looking at substance first," she added.
Prosecutors raring to cross-examine CJ
Rep. Rudy Fariñas, a member of the prosecution team, told ANC also Thursday night that all prosecutors want to cross-examine Corona.
He descibed it as "a rare opportunity."
However, he declined to reveal the names of the prosecutors who will cross-examine Corona.
"No final decision yet," Fariñas said.
Earlier reports said up to 6 prosecutors may cross-examine the chief justice, with private prosecutor Atty. Mario Bautista leading the way.
It will be another major face-off between Bautista and lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas, who is expected to present Corona.
Bautista served as private prosecutor in presenting Clarissa Ocampo as the key witness in the impeachment trial of then-President Joseph Estrada
Cuevas served as Estrada's lawyer in the same trial.
Corona to critics: See you next year
Meantime, Corona brushed aside threats of another impeachment complaint that may be filed against him this year.
"See you next year!" This was his reaction to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales' revelation she is investigating him for the possible filing of a second impeachment complaint come December.
The Chief Justice was sought for comment by mediamen at the end of the Thanksgiving Mass today in celebration of his second anniversary as Chief Magistrate and head of the Judiciary.
Testifying before the Senate Impeachment Court, the Ombudsman, a former colleague of Corona at the high court and an appointee of Pres. Aquino, admitted that the sole purpose for probing Corona's alleged ill-gotten wealth was for the filing of a verified impeachment complaint against him in December, should he be acquitted by the Impeachment Court.
Corona has repeatedly denied acquiring ill-gotten wealth, stressing that the Prosecution and the rest of his critics have not brought out a single anomaly he may have committed while in public service and have not shown evidence of him pocketing public funds.
Corona stressed the savings in his bank accounts are all a product of hard work. -- with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News