MANILA, Philippines - Expect more fireworks in the Senate impeachment trial as Chief Justice Renato Corona's defense team challenges the presentation of Corona's bank records in the proceedings.
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III said the Senate had to decide on whether or not it would grant the House prosecutors' request for several alleged peso and dollar accounts of the chief justice.
Osmeña said the majority decided to grant the subpoenas since the Supreme Court made exceptions to the Bank Secrecy Law in 3 different cases.
He said the court also ordered the banks to give the year-end balances of Corona's bank accounts "since the law states that you must declare your assets and liabilities as of December 31st."
The senator said he proposed that the banks submit a monthly report to reflect the actual movement in Corona's accounts but he was outvoted.
Asked how he would assess the bank records, he said: "Pag nakita ko may P100 million diyan, you did not declare this in your SALN. There's some subjectivity there because suppose it's only P1 million e di sasabihin ng tao that's not much. The difference between P23 million to P24 million, so what."
"But if it's P30 million or P40 million wala sa SALN, then you would find more serious reason to doubt whether he really deliberately liked to fudge his SALN," he said.
The senator-judge said the Senate only granted the subpoenas for accounts named in the prosecutors' request. These include an account that prosecutors claimed had an initial deposit of “$700K”, which it interpreted to be $700,000 (around P38 million in October 2008).
He said that while the Senate granted the subpoenas, the impeachment court had yet to decide on whether it will allow the records to be presented as evidence.
"That is when the big fight will come in. Right now, we are just identifying and marking it but it doesn't mean that the prosecution has already offered it [as] evidence because the moment they do, of course the defense will stand up and challenge that. Dun magkakaroon ng bakbakan ulit," he said.