MANILA, Philippines - The defense team said Chief Justice Renato Corona’s challenge for the 188 impeachment complainants and senator-judge Franklin Drilon to sign waivers opening their bank accounts was not conditional.
In a press conference after Corona took the witness stand, defense spokesperson Tranquil Salvador said it was indeed that: a challenge.
Defense lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho said a waiver is a “personal act, but we are one with the Chief Justice in his belief that with the signing of a waiver, all issues, whether legal or factual, will be resolved.”
Corona had signed a waiver in open court allowing government agencies to look into his bank accounts to show he is not hiding anything.
Reading the waiver, Corona said: “I hereby authorize BIR, AMLC, SEC and LRA [to look into] any and all information that will show my assets, net worth, business interests and other financial transactions.” The accounts include those of his spouse, Cristina.
He also said he is willing to direct the Supreme Court clerk of court to disclose his latest Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth, for year 2011.
He challenged, however, all 188 impeachment complainants and Senator Franklin Drilon “in a moment of truth in a gesture of conciliation...to sign and join me [in dislosing bank accounts], let us face people together. The nation is at a stand still. The people are watching us."
Quicho disagreed with the prosecution's statement that only Corona is being made to account, which is why he on trial. He said the whole point of the impeachment trial is public “accountability.”
“Why do we have double standards? Why are we only asking this from CJ? He said himself that once and for all, the whole nation wants to know. This is to ensure that the programs of the government can already move forward,” he said.
Quicho said he does not understand why the 189 would not want to sign waivers.
“We all want the same thing: that laws cover everyone, and not just an individual,” he said.
Salvador added Corona will clarify everything if he returns to the witness stand tomorrow. “He is not finished yet, let us wait for his testimony.”
He said Corona is ready to be cross-examined.
Asked if the defense is sure of Corona’s appearance tomorrow considering his health condition, Quicho said: “We can’t say 100% for sure [because of his health].”
Quicho said, however, that “if the question is ‘Is there a need for him to go back,’ we agree.”
He added it will be to Corona’s disadvantage if he does not return considering the gains he achieved today.