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MANILA, Philippines – Prosecutors are blocking the motion of the lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona to call to the witness stand the administrator of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to testify on the alleged properties of the chief magistrate. The defense, meanwhile, is asking the impeachment court to summon journalist Malou Mangahas to testify on her special report on the Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) filings of key officials.
The defense team earlier made a motion for the appearance of lawyer Eulalio Diaz III of the LRA to refute allegations of the prosecution that Corona owns 45 properties. But Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., the lead prosecutor, said the testimony being sought from Diaz was “irrelevant, immaterial and impertinent to any and all of the allegations in the impeachment complaint.”
Tupas said they did not allege in the complaint that Corona owned 45 properties. “The records of the Senate will show that the prosecution has already clarified the issue and admitted that they have presented 21 properties of Respondent Corona and not 45 as the other titles were already cancelled,” Tupas said in the prosecution’s opposition.
Tupas said that “instead of wasting the time” of the court, Corona should present “other relevant and material evidence to controvert the evidence already adduced by the prosecution.”
Call journalist, court asked
Defense lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday asked the impeachment court to issue a subpoena for journalist Mangahas and other staff members of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) to testify on Corona's filing of SALN, a crucial point in the trial.
The request for the issuance of subpoena ad testificandum et duces tecum was for Mangahas, PCIJ research director Karol Anne Ilagan and a cameraman or camera crew of the PCIJ.
"The purpose of this request is to prove lack of malice and bad faith on the part of the Chief Justice in filling up his SALN and to prove that omission of some entries or inaccuracies in the SALN, if any, do not constitute Betrayal of Public Trust or moral fitness," the defense motion stated.
The defense has also asked Mangahas to bring copies of SALNs, letters, requests and other documents mentioned in her news stories: "SALN: Good law, bad results," posted on the PCIJ website on March 14; "Great filers, big barriers," posted on the PCIJ website on March 15; "SC Justices, Ombudsman, House keep SALN secret," posted on the PCIJ website on January 10; and the video segment and accompanying text story of "Who Shall Cast the First Stone" posted on the PCIJ website.