Ombudsman complaint orchestrated to discredit CJ; Senators scold “dollar account” complainant

This is a press statement from the Corona Defense team. (Videos embedded by Blog Watch)

On the 39th day of the impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, the defense team successfully showed, with its presentation of three of the complainants in the cases filed against the Chief Justice before the Office of the Office of the Ombudsman, that the charges were baseless and were in fact filed only to disrepute the Chief Justice.

This developed as Senate Impeachment Court Presiding Officer and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and some senator-judges berated Kaya Natin founder Harvey Keh, one of the complainants on the alleged dollar accounts of the Chief Justice, for trying to influence the Impeachment Court when he brought along with him a television news team when he submitted to the Office of the Senate President last May 7 purported evidence against the Chief Justice. Presiding Officer Enrile has ordered Keh to show cause why he should not be cited for contempt.

Keh, the lead convenor of the Kaya Natin which is highly critical of the Chief Justice, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, and Atty. Emmanuel Santos, chair of the International Academy of Management and Economics, were all presented as hostile witnesses during today’s hearing. All three witnesses, during their direct examinations, admitted that they have no personal knowledge of the ill-gotten wealth charges they had filed against the Chief Justice before the Ombudsman.

During the direct examination by Dean Eduardo Delos Angeles, Rep. Hontiveros admitted that she had in fact downloaded from the web all her supposed pieces of evidence and other attachments to her complaint.

The senators took turn in grilling and berating Keh, a columnist for the Manila Times and Director of the Youth and Social Entrepreneurship Program of the Ateneo School of Government.

The show cause order against Keh stemmed from his bringing of unsigned and unverified transactions records of the Chief Justice’s supposed peso and dollar accounts to the Office of Senate President Enrile accompanied with a news team from ABS-CBN. He said that the document was delivered anonymously last May 3 in the mail area of his office in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

“I am ordering you to show cause why you should not be cited for contempt…You are trying to influence this [impeachment] court by bringing these documents. I did not open it. I did not read it. I felt insulted and offended as presiding officer,” said Presiding Officer Senate President Enrile.

Senator-Judge Miriam Defensor Santiago echoed similar sentiments. “A person governed by ethics would not have done things that you have done…you are giving undue influence,” she said.

Asked by Presiding Officer Senate President Enrile why Keh submitted the unsigned documents to him and not to House-Prosecutors or the Office of the Ombudsman where he has a pending case filed, Keh claimed that he felt Enrile was “the right person to make a decision on it.”

Keh, however, got the most scolding from Senator Jinggoy Estrada who even called him “Sinungaling” when he initially denied that he contacted friends from the press for media mileage.

“You had the temerity to submit them to the Senate President without authenticating the documents…Ikaw nga nagtawag ng media sa office ni Senate President Enrile di ba? Inabisuhan mo sila [referring to media] na pupunta ka,” an irate Senator-Judge Estrada stressed.

Keh admitted that he contacted his media friends from Abante and Inquirer, two newspapers which are highly critical of the Chief Justice.

Senator-Judge Allan Peter Cayetano, for his part, lamented that it is downright unfair for some public officials who work hard for years to build a reputation, which can be ruined in an instant by a mere anonymous complaint.

Santos, the third witness was questioned on direct examination by Dean Jose Roy. He admitted that he has no personal knowledge of the charges he had filed against the Chief Justice and that he had based his Ombudsman complaint merely on newspaper reports.

No cross examination was done by the prosecution on any of the defense hostile witnesses.

The defense has said that Ombudsman Carpio Morales’s testimony “proves once and for all that the Administration has put out all the stops to discredit its perceived political enemies at the expense of institutional independence and integrity.”

The defense deplored how the independent agencies and bodies such as the Ombudsman, the AMLC, the Commission on Audit, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, have been used for political vendetta.