Day 10: Highlights of Impeachment Trial (February 1, 2012)

by Wilfred Avila

It started 4 minutes late but it was time well spent. JPE had to change in his regal burgundy robe as he had just arrived!

Prior to the hearing proper, Former President Joseph Estrada arrived together with his Senator son feeling Presidential still. He was cordoned off by a phalanx of black shirted men and led straight to a TV station, Solar, for an exclusive interview. As always, he remained unintelligible because of his slur. We never saw him enter the Senate Hall.

Former president Joseph Estrada praised Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in his handling of the impeachment trial, saying that he was “very impartial.” “Chief Justice Corona is very fortunate than me, because the presiding officer, Senator Enrile, is very impartial,” Estrada said. Estrada, who was ousted following a botched impeachment trial in 2001, said that he hoped “this trial will finish to find out the real truth.”

He said he believes he would have been acquitted had his trial gone to its conclusion. He blamed then Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, who presided the trial, who he said was included in the conspiracy to remove him. Estrada’s impeachment proceedings was aborted when the prosecution team walked out when they were prevented from having the second envelope opened, which led to the “Edsa II” people uprising that ousted Estrada.

The day’s events was started off by a prayer led by Senator TG Guingona. What a farce! It seemed as if he were laying the foundation for the prosecution’s work and condemned the Defense. This was proven as he would glance up at who he addressed during his holy prayer. NOT! It was the longest prayer ever recorded in the ten day history of the hearings. I wonder if God fell asleep.

In a pre-trial press conference, Defense Spokesman Atty. Mon Esguerra called on the Impeachment Court to exercise its contempt powers to force the Prosecution to stop “crucifying the Chief Justice, aided by a network and its assets” in the bar of public opinion. “Kaya nga po tayo may Impeachment Court para dito ang paglilitis hindi tulad ng ginagawa ng Prosekusyon simula pa ng umpisa. May karapatan po si Chief Justice tulad ni Juan dela Cruz,” sabi ni Esguerra.

My thoughts here are all from memory because I lost my notes on the way home.

In an exchange with the SEC witness, Benito Cataran, Presiding Judge Juan Ponce Enrile, chided the witness with what was obviously irritation at the stupidity of the Prosecution witness.

JPE: “What is your remedy?”
Witness: “Ahh ehhh iiihh ooohh uuuhh”
JPE: “Ah, eh, ah, ah ah ah. Am sorry to tell you am teaching you Corporation Law!”, the exasperated JPE blurted out.

A corporation owned by the family of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s wife where he supposedly drew the P11 million cash advance as shown in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) was put under scrutiny during the resumption of his impeachment trial on Wednesday.

Testifying before the Senate sitting as impeachment court, Benito Cataran revealed that Basa-Guidote Entrprises Inc (BGEI) did not file its general information sheet from 1991 to 1997 as well as its financial statements from 2000 to 2010.

“We found out that since 1991, the corporation has not been submitting any report…From 1991 up to 1997,” Cataran said, responding to direct examination of prosecutor and Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali. “The latest general information sheet that we have is that of 1990,” said the witness. The non-filing of the general information sheet “in the period of more than at least six years – from 1997 up to 2002 – prompted the revocation of the certificate of registration in April, 2003, said Cataran. (The witness initially said the corporation did not file from 1991 to 1997).”

JPE and Senator Judge Angara (both brilliant in Corporate and Tax Laws) clarified that the SEC, even if it revokes the Certificate of Registration does NOT automatically dissolve a corporation since it still has its Board, its assets and properties and have the personality to sue and be sued in any court.

The calm exterior of the witness was shattered when one after the other the Senator-Judges lambasted him for not knowing the law. He seemed to want to be elsewhere at that precise moment. Anywhere but the witness stand.

On the other hand, the defense said through Atty. Robles that,

– Wala naman kaming gustong patunayan sa BGEI dahil irrelevant as far as the SALN is concern, malinaw sa amin from the beginning.

– They wanted to establish BGEI no longer exists but it was estabished
in the trial that it can exist even with revoked registration.

– The burden is on prosecution to prove there’s no legitimate source for the P11M loans. We showed BGEI has an asset in Manila.

– I saw there was a covering handwritten memo. I saw it was somehow, to my appreciation, adverse to them.

– On Preserving Mrs. Corona’s handwritten note as litigator you have to be quick if that opportunity presents itself.

– Keys to Columns unit reached Mrs. Corona “only in 2011”. we will prove that.

Senator-Judge Franklin Drilon waddled to the podium and admitted he did not understand anything. He asked the witness from Ayala Land, where the KEY to the condominium of Ayala land was. The witness said, she presumed it was with the Coronas. But, she also admitted, that there was no real turnover that occurred of the said property. As fast as he asked the question, he left underlining the fact that he did not understand anything again. What a huge moron! he waddled back to his seat! Franklin Drilon to the rescue of the prosecution falls short again for the second day.

Trying hard to connect the testimony in yesterday’s hearing, Senator-Judge Serge Osmena II asked if it was normal for any corporation to give out a 30-40% discount on any unit. Of course as expected, he was answered in the negative. Ayala Land was different of Lehmann Brothers who had a financial breakdown at that time and the developers of the Bellagio Condominium faced even the elements of bad weather during the sale. Osmena reiterated in a press interview that there was no typhoon at that time. He did not even wait for the result of the subpoenaed documents and proof of the condition of the Belagio unit to arrive. Of course, we know that he is part of the ABS-CBN band of liars.

The biggest joy of the hearing was when Senator-Judge Lito Lapid stood up to ask clarificatory questions. The Senator – Judges and the gallery snickered. He pointedly asked, “O bakit kayo tumatawa?” This drew an outright laughter from everyone. The Senator-Judges sat at the edge of their seats so as not to miss his question.

Lapid: “Anong pinagkaiba ng cash advance sa loan?”
Enrile asks Lapid: “Sino ang tinatanong mo?”
Lito points to prosecution.

For all his lack, Lito is a natural! I would truly name this as the singular moment of the hearing.

Senator-Judge Joker Arroyo stood up to remind the Prosecution team not to submit any evidence if they are not sure of it. Elementary Watson!

The congressman prosecutor Rep. Rey Umali looked so nervous throughout the trial. When one after the other of his questions were struck down, you could see him almost looking beaten. He wasn’t even speaking with his co-prosecutors. He sat on a chair and really looked glum.

I really don’t understand the penchant of the Prosecution not to prepare their briefs. They seem lost in the Halls of Justice for that is what the Senate Hall has become.

Meanwhile, Niel Tupaz continues trying to impress everyone by standing behind each prosecutor who comes to the podium. Does he really have anything brilliant to say?

first posted by Wilfred Avila in Facebook.

Feb 1 Senate impeachment court record