MANILA, Philippines - The Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, has also subpoenaed the bank accounts of the wife of Chief Justice Renato Corona in a Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) branch.
PSBank President Pascual Garcia said Corona had another account (089-121021681) opened on June 29, 2011 with an initial amount of P17 million. This was later closed on December 12, 2011, the day that Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives.
Garcia said he has an idea where the P17 million was paid out, but said he had to check documents for verification.
Later in her testimony, PSBank Katipunan branch manager Annabelle Tiongson said the amount was withdrawn by Corona, through his wife Cristina, via a manager’s check.
“I’m not sure if they were already negotiated (such as endorsed to another bank),” she said. She noted, however, that the amount was not used to open another account with the same branch.
Senator-judge Franklin Drilon later asked the branch to check if Christina had accounts there.
Defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador said the accounts were terminated because the money belonged to Basa Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI), a company owned by Mrs. Corona's relatives.
In total, the 3 accounts had around P37 million in cash, which the defense earlier said was BGEI’s receivable from an expropriation case in Manila.
Senator-judge Pia Cayetano asked how the impeachment court could appreciate the closure of the accounts on the day of Corona’s impeachment. “It’s outside the coverage of Article 2, so how do we treat this?”
Article refers to the non-disclosure of Corona’s SALNs.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the question will be discussed in a caucus on Monday.
Lead counsel Serafin Cuevas then took the floor, noting that the witnesses were being “bulldozed” with questions in order to reveal accounts that had not been mentioned by the prosecution.
Enrile said, however, that it was the PSBank officers themselves who introduced the information.
“But these are deposits made after the filing of the complaint…We’re raising a point that is very material. If you examine the complaint, the SALNs [asked] were only until 2010. After that is not covered in the information [complaint],” Cuevas said. Government officials have yet to file their 2011 SALNs.
Enrile said, “when it’s your turn to present evidence, you can traverse as to why the assets in 2010 were not included in the 2010 SALN and why they arose only in 2011.”
Cuevas insisted the subject matter is no longer within the coverage of the prosecution’s complaint. He also said the defense is not precluded from seeking “available remedies” for the Chief Justice in connection with the issue.