Ochoa: Defense allegations ‘desperate gimmick’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2012 08:21 PM | Updated as of Feb 13 2012 08:45 PM

Malacanang says defense allegation a ‘squid tactic’

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. called the accusations of the defense of Chief Justice Renato Corona as “unsubstantiated” and a “desperate gimmick.”

In a statement issued to the media, Ochoa said: “As a member of the Bar, I respect the right of the lawyers of the Chief Justice to protect the interests of their client, within the bounds of the law. However, citing rumors to prove baseless accusations to support their cause goes against the principles of decent and ethical lawyering.”

He said: “It is a desperate gimmick that does not belong in the proceedings of any court of law, especially an impeachment trial.”

He said the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, is capable of making decisions to provide Corona a fair trial.

Meanwhile, Malacanang on Sunday called on Corona to “stop running and stop hiding” and inflicting on the public “idle talk.”

In a separate statement, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, “Their conspiracy theories concerning the Executive Secretary [Paquito Ochoa Jr.] is a diversionary tactic to distract attention from the evidence coming to light in the impeachment trial.”

He said the defense chooses to use “squid tactics” in order to deviate from the real issues.

“The Senate has been conducting the impeachment trial in full light of day; the prosecution and defense have been given every opportunity to have themselves heard,” he said. “We can only surmise that the defense has run out of ways to conceal the culpability of its client, and has engineered this move as a last-ditch effort to confuse the proceedings and prevent a resolution.”

SALN disclosure

“The only danger in the disclosure of the Chief Justice’s assets is the Chief Justice’s defense: the integrity of the banking system, our system of laws, the cause of justice and good governance are not endangered by the proceedings of the impeachment court,” he added.

Earlier on Sunday, the defense alleged that Malacanang offered P100 million for senators to skirt around the Supreme Court-issued temporary restraining order on the subpoena issued on Chief Justice Renato Corona’s alleged dollar accounts.

Citing a “very reliable” source, defense lawyer Dennis Manalo said Ochoa has been contacting senator-judges not to honor the halt order.

Another lawyer, Jose “Judd” Roy III, alleged the money will be sourced from government savings to be used for “soft projects.” The funds will supposedly be released this week.

Web of lies

In another statement, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the supposed bribe is a part of a “web of lies.”

He claimed Corona has even accused the Bureau of Internal Revenue of investigating the financial books of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). Corona’s lead defense lawyer, Serafin Cuevas, is a member of the INC.

Abad said this is not true. “Such baseless allegations are irresponsible and can only erode the credibility of the defense lawyers. Their energies and time are better spent preparing for tomorrow's continuing hearings on the hidden but now exposed dollar and peso accounts of Corona in PSBank and BPI, which have been admitted as true not just by the bank officers and even by Corona himself.”