Call to Order
- The trial resumed at 2:07 p.m.
- Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago was absent.
Which is higher, SC or impeachment court?
- Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas said the statement of Senator-judge Teofisto Guingona III on Wednesday implied that the Senate sitting as an impeachment court is higher than the Supreme Court (SC). He insisted that “impeachment procedures are still subject to SC’s power of review.”
- Guingona clarified that the SC “cannot impose its will” on the trial because the Senate is “not a co-equal branch” when it is “exercising a judicial function as an Impeachment Court,” and not doing its legislative role. He added that this view was shared by many senator-judges.
- Regarding the claim of Cuevas that no jurisprudence supports Guingona’s view, Senator-judge Francis Pangilinan explained that no SC ruling would be applicable because the Senate was “treading on unfamiliar terrain where no entity has ventured thus far before.” He said precedent can be drawn from foreign jurisprudence concerning impeachment.
PSB bank manager is ‘tall’ and not ‘small lady’
- The presiding officer, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, asked Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) president Pascual Garcia III why the person subpoenaed by the Senate — the bank manager of PSBank Katipunan Avenue (Quezon City) branch —did not come to the impeachment trial.
- Garcia replied that after seeing the “fear and concern” of branch manager Annabel Tiongson — and surmising that she got “stressed” over the potential criminal liability of testifying on Corona’s bank documents — he decided as PSBank president to come over instead.
- Senator-judge Jinggoy Estrada asked if the PSBank Katipunan branch manager was a “small lady,” an allusion to the anonymous source of the confidential bank documents given to the House prosecution panel. Garcia replied that the bank manager was a tall woman.
- Garcia refused to answer Senator-judge Franklin Drilon’s query on the starting balances of Corona’s two peso-denominated accounts, saying these were not covered by the Senate subpoena. But Senator-judge Alan Peter Cayetano said records of initial deposits are among the “opening documents” that should have been brought to the impeachment court. After reading the subpoena, the presiding officer ruled that Cayetano’s observation “is correct.”
- Senator-judge Sergio Osmeña III said that aside from Corona’s 10 cash deposit accounts, the impeachment court should also subpoena documents on all other financial instruments — such as time deposits — that the chief justice might have because “funds could have been shifted.”
- Upon motion of Estrada and Drilon — and as amended by Osmeña — the presiding officer ordered that a subpoena be issued again to PSBank Katipunan branch manager Anabelle Tiongson, who was also ordered to bring on February 13 all the bank documents of Corona.
PSBank admits existence of dollar accounts
- On the requirement of the depositor’s written consent under the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, A. P. Cayetano explained to Garcia that the impeachment court was invoking the SC ruling in the Salvacion case, which states that the secrecy of dollar deposits cannot be allowed to “impede the interest of justice.” Still, Garcia maintained that the depositor’s written consent is required.
- Pangilinan requested Cuevas to ask the chief justice to allow PSBank to divulge information about his dollar accounts. Cuevas replied that he believes “Corona will not give his consent to open his bank accounts.”
- Responding to an inquiry from Estrada, Garcia denied that the “leaked” bank records the House prosecution panel had attached to its request for subpoena came from PSBank. Garcia noted “differences” between the original bank records and the photocopies, and said the latter were probably “fake.”
- But upon inquiry by the presiding officer, Garcia admitted all five account numbers mentioned in the subpoena were existing dollar accounts in PSBank. Enrile asked Garcia how the prosecution panel could have gotten those account numbers, if not from the PSBank Katipunan branch itself. Garcia replied that the documents were “not drawn from us [PSBank].”
- In reply to Estrada’s query, Garcia explained that the marginal note “PEP” written on the bank documents meant “politically exposed person” or high public officials, such as the depositor Corona. But Garcia refused to answer what the letter “K” meant in the entry “700K” because the annotation was made on a photocopy of an item that he did not consider an “original document” coming from his bank.
- After Senator-judge Panfilo Lacson informed the impeachment court that the SC had just granted PSBank’s petition to stop the inquiry into Corona’s dollar accounts, the presiding officer said the trial would discuss other issues “in deference to the Supreme Court.” Lacson asked the Senate to take up this matter in its caucus on Feb. 13.
- A. P. Cayetano reminded witnesses that the impeachment court protects them from criminal or administrative liability when they testify on Corona’s bank accounts.
BPI accounts of Corona
- Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Ayala Avenue branch manager Leonora Dizon testified that Corona has an active BPI checking account, which was opened in 1989 and had an ending balance of P12,024,067.70 as of December 31, 2010.
- During cross-examination, Dizon said the fluctuation of ending balances through the years could have resulted from different transactions. In this regard, Cuevas asked the Senate to subpoena the statements of account from 2005 to 2010 of Corona’s BPI account.
- Osmeña requested that the subpoena include other BPI accounts under Corona’s name. Drilon further asked that copies of opening balances of those accounts up to 2010 be included in the subpoena. Enrile ordered the issuance of the subpoena on Corona’s peso accounts with the bank.
- Belatedly, Cuevas told the impeachment court that Corona is in possession of several statements of account, and that there might be no more need to subpoena the BPI documents. The prosecution and defense teams agreed to go to the BPI Ayala Avenue branch together on Feb. 13 to see the documents.
Debate on bank account balances
- P. Cayetano recalled that the Senators had agreed in caucus that they would only look into ending balance, and expressed the apprehension that evidence would be presented on possible ill-gotten wealth.
- Osmeña clarified that his request for the monthly balance of Corona’s BPI deposits is similar to the subpoena for the monthly balances of Corona’s PSBank peso accounts.
- Drilon added that Osmeña’s request is related to assets that Corona should have reported in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs), which pertains to the second article of impeachment.
- Senator-judge Joker Arroyo said the issue about bank balances should be discussed in caucus, not argued before the viewing public. Enrile explained that the caucus under discussion dealt with the prosecution’s request for subpoena last week, and not the request made in Thursday’s trial.
- Senator-judge Vicente Sotto III reminded his colleagues that they would go into caucus at 11 a.m. on Monday, February 13.
- At 6:30 p.m. the trial was adjourned.
- Trial will resume at 2 p.m. Monday, February 13.
—Marlon Anthony Tonson/YA, GMA News