(UPDATE 2) Chief Justice Renato Corona has bought a condominium in Taguig City worth P14 million, according to a deed of absolute sale a witness presented on Day 4 of the impeachment trial on Thursday, January 19.
“The deed of absolute sale pertains to the so-called Belaggio residences with Megaworld Corp. appearing as seller and with the espouses Cristina Corona and Renato Corona being the buyers,” House prosecutor Rep. Elpidio Barzaga said.
Randy Rutaquio, custodian of records on land and condominium titles from the Taguig City Registrar of Deeds, brought the deed of sale after the impeachment court summoned him to testify and identify documents pertaining to Corona’s properties in Taguig City.
Barzaga stated before the court that the 303.5-square meter condominium unit with three parking slots was bought in 2009 with a selling price of P14,510,225.
He further pointed out that the property was only declared for the first time in Corona’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth for the year 2010.
‘Allegation based on suspicion’
Corona’s chief defense counsel Atty. Serafin Cuevas immediately objected Barzaga’s manifestation and insisted that the deed of sale presented by the prosecution panel is not qualified as evidence under Article 2 of the impeachment complaint.
Article 2 pertains to Corona’s failure to disclose his SALN, which is deemed a public document.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, presiding officer of the impeachment court, ruled that if the property is declared in Corona’s SALN then it is proper to accept relevant questions and documents as evidence.
Cuevas then questioned the validity of the prosecution’s complaint against Corona’s alleged ill-gotten wealth which, he stressed, was only based on suspicion.
“How can there be a valid judgment when the basis of the allegation is suspicion?” Cuevas said.
Barzaga replied, “Ill-gotten wealth is a valid allegation in our impeachment complaint. The Corona camp has even denied this in his answer to the complaint.”
The senator-judges stepped in on the heated debate concurring with Cuevas.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano asked the prosecution how they learned that some of Corona’s properties were not declared in his 2010 SALN when the document was only disclosed on Wednesday, January 18.
Barzaga then explained that that’s the reason why the House panel used the word "reported" because they have not seen Corona’s SALN at the time when the complaint was filed.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero expressed his confusion over Article 2 as it contains three different allegations.
Enrile ordered both the prosecution and defense panels to submit memoranda to explain and elaborate what should be covered in the allegations of Article 2 of impeachment.
After Rutaquio was discharged, the prosecution panel called its fourth and fifth witnesses: Carlo Alcantara and Sedfrey Garcia of the Registers of Deeds of Quezon City and Marikina City, respectively.
Alcantara and Garcia were also summoned to testify and identify subpoenaed documents, including deeds of sale and transfer certificate titles under Corona and his family.
Cuevas persistently questioned the presentation of the documents and labeled them “irrelevant and immaterial.” Enrile, however, carried on with the proceedings.
The prosecution panel noted that Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares was present in the trial but was not ready with her documents.
Henares will be summoned again when the trial resumes on Jan. 24. There will be no proceedings on Jan. 23, which was declared a non-working holiday celebrating the Chinese New Year.
Rep. Niel Tupas, chief public prosecutor, said that next week's trial would be more exciting. "Next week would be an interesting week. We will be releasing documents na hindi pa alam ng publiko."