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MANILA, Philippines - Lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona stood by their client's statement not to declare in his SALN millions in his peso and dollar accounts on the ground that the money was not his.
"Yan po ang katotohanan...yan ang paulit-ulit na sagot; hindi po kinakailangan ilagay yung dollar accounts at yan ang pinaninindigan namin," said defense spokesman Rico Quicho.
Even if Corona did not declare these accounts, lawyer Ramon Esguerra said this did not constitute an impeachable offense.
"Let me quote Senator Arroyo: is a correctible offense an impeachable offense? It is not. It does not amount to the very serious crimes that will constitute betrayal of public trust, other high crimes," Esguerra said.
Esguerra said it all boils down to the purported non-disclosure of peso and dollar deposits and they believe that Corona has declared his assets correctly.
"Inamin niya na co-mingled at kung hindi niya pera walang dahilan na ideklara ito," said spokesman Tranquil Salvador III, referring to Corona’s explanation about the peso deposits not listed in his SALN.
As for the dollar deposits, Corona has asserted that the Foreign Currency Deposits Act is absolute in protecting confidentiality of such funds.
"At the very start, the allegations in the verified complaint do not constitute an impeachable offense and that is our position before and [it is] our position now," Quicho said.
Prosecutors: Corona take on FCDA ‘absurd’
In a news conference after the trial, prosecutors said Corona used an "absurd" and a "scoundrel's interpretation" of the FCDA.
Corona failed to show a single document that would prove his bank deposits, according to Representatives Sonny Angara, Miro Quimbo and Erin Tanada III, prosecution spokespersons.
Angara said Corona used a "scoundrel's interpretation" of the FCDA that shields him from declaring his $2.4 million deposits in four accounts.
If this would be the interpretation of the law, then all public officials can put all their money in dollar deposits so that they would not have to declare them in their SALN, Angara said.
Quimbo said Corona's explanation about the FCDA was "absurd" and "highly unacceptable" because he did not show the court any proof except for his statement.
Tanada said that Corona's take on the FDCA undermined the SALN law.