House prosecutors to pursue Corona dollar accounts

Posted at 02/10/12 8:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona have vowed to pursue the opening of the chief magistrate's alleged dollar accounts.

They said they will continue to push for this even if they believe they have already proven that Corona misdeclared his assets through his peso accounts alone.

This, despite a restraining order issued by the high court preventing the impeachment court from opening the dollar accounts, citing the law restricting access to foreign currency denominated accounts.

Prosecutor Neri Colmenares wants the House to condemn the temporary restraining order (TRO) it granted Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank).

"The first thing that the House of Representatives should do is to come out with a resolution condemning in the strongest terms the TRO which is intended to sabotage the impeachment proceedings and hide the truth from the people," he said in a press statement.

"The fact that the impeachment court found that Chief Justice Renato Corona has more than P31 million of undeclared wealth in his PS Bank and BPI bank accounts has practically proven the prosecution's theory that he has unexplained wealth which he failed to disclose in his SALN (statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth)," he said.

"The SC TRO on the dollar deposits was an attempt to derail the impeachment proceedings, impose its will on the Senate and derail the search for the truth. The charges of corruption against Corona is his personal issue and the eight justices will go down with him should they persist in supporting Corona's already discredited attempt to hide the truth," he added.

Prosecution spokesman Sonny Angara said, "Even a gradeschooler taking arithmetic can see the big disparity between proven assets and declared assets of the Chief Justice in his SALN , that is clear. FCDUs (Foreign currency deposit units) could not hurt but can only help the case, so it's sad the Supreme Court had to step in at this point."

Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus for her part said, "It is my belief that the Supreme Court's TRO on the issue of public disclosure of foreign currency deposits is against public interest. Amidst the clamor to put a stop to plunder and widespread corruption, it is the public's right to know whether the Supreme Court Chief Justice did act in violation of the interest of the nation."

De Jesus also wants the High Court to reverse its ruling. "In this particular case, it is the Senate impeachment proceedings that need to be enlightened with the disclosure of said bank records. In the interest of truth and justice, the people have the right to know."

Akbayan Party, meantime, condemned the "fast-tracked issuance" of the TRO on Corona's alleged dollar accounts.

"We believe that Corona will do anything and everything to prevent his eventual conviction, even if it means bringing down the entire country down with him. We have seen that there are still forces that are willing to join him in destroying the judiciary and the country. Theses groups continue with their vested actions despite constant calls from the public to cast off their allegiance to Arroyo," Akbayan said.

"This goes hand in hand with some of those in the high court that continue to serve the interest of a corrupt past. Their loyal service to Arroyo during her regime and their decisions that derailed the current administration’s quest for accountability and justice, such as their invalidation of the Truth Commission and status quo ante order on the Merceditas Gutierrez’s impeachment have only sealed their fate," it said.