Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ombudsman: Chief Justice maintains 82 bank accounts with US$ 12 million deposits

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales sounded like a broken record when she presented a powerpoint presentation which showed Chief Justice Renato Corona reportedly maintaining US$ 12 million in 5 banks abroad. Eighty two accounts were allegedly owned by Corona. The documents which the Ombusman possesses reportedly came from the Anti-Money Laundering Council or AMLC. AMLC is the one authorized by law to conduct an inquiry into questionable bank accounts or deposits being maintained by government officials, both here and abroad. 

Defense counsel Serafin Cuevas had a hard time with Morales. Cuevas wanted to elicit some favorable responses from the former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, yet, the octogenerian failed. The Inquirer describes the scene showing Cuevas and Morales as a fight between a feisty witness with that of a subdued interrogator. 

Most of the Senators who witnessed the cross examination say that the prosecution scored on this one. 

In a text message I received last night from a colleague, Chief Justice Corona says that he will respond to Morales' "bloated amounts" in the right time, indicating that the fight is not yet over. 

Last night, rumours circulated that Chief Justice Corona might announce his resignation last night or on Thursday, when he is expected to take the witness stand. Seems like the propaganda machinery has once and again, reared its ugly head. 

As an independent observer, I think that it will be a hard one for Corona to prove his innocence before the bar of public opinion this time around. The AMLC has proven its competence and integrity since it first hugged the headlines during the impeachment trial of Estrada. In that trial, domestic bank accounts were the subject of inquiry. Now, it seems that even without the benefit of a court instigated order, the AMLC is now empowered to scrutinize even dollar deposits made by government officials abroad. 

The Defense should change its views about this trial. If it uses technicalities to win, the Defense will surely lose its case before the bar of public opinion. There are two sides of this trial: one, a legal one and two, a public one. The most important one is not legal, but public opinion. Even if Corona wins an acquittal, but the acquittal was based on a technicality, he will lose his integrity and will forever suffer doubt before the minds of the people.

The challenge is---how to adequately explain this issue before the court and the people without both thinking that they are being led to a decision based on technical grounds.