Press Release
May 7, 2012

By Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

Point No. 1: May this Court order the parties to end the trial on or before June 7, the scheduled end of the Congress session?

Under the Rules of Court, Rule 133, Sec. 6, the court has power to stop further evidence on a particular point, "when the evidence is already so full that some witnesses to the same point cannot be reasonably expected to be additionally persuasive. But this power should be exercised with caution."

Further, under Rule 119 Sec. 11 para. (c): "The prosecution and the defense may, in that order, present rebuttal and non-rebuttal evidence unless the court, in furtherance of justice, permits them to present additional evidence bearing upon the main issue." In People v. Tan, 315 SCRA 375 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled: "It is within the sound discretion of a trial judge to allow a party that has rested its case to introduce rebuttal evidence."

Under the Rules of Court, Rule 135, Section 1: "Justice shall be impartially administered without unnecessary delay." Under Sec. 5, entitled Inherent Powers of Courts, "every court shall have power: (d) To control, in furtherance of justice, the conduct of its ministerial officers, and of all other persons in any manner connected with a case before it, in every manner appertaining thereto."

In the Pres. Clinton impeachment case, the House of Representatives impeached him for perjury and obstruction of justice on 19 December 1998. Senate trial began on 7 January 1999. He was acquitted on 12 February 1999 - or a little over a month later.

Therefore, I humbly submit that this impeachment court, after nearly five months of trial, possesses authority to order the conclusion of trial on or before June 7, so as to allow judgment to be promulgated before Congress ends this session.

Point No. 2: Is it relevant to the impeachment proceedings that the sale to the City of Manila of land owned by Basa-Guidote Enterprises, Inc. represented by Cristina Corona was disallowed in audit, following this timeline:

2001 - Negotiated sale was consummated. City government took possession of the property and constructed a public market on it. Mrs. Corona received a check worth some P35 million, allegedly in trust for BGEI. She deposited the check in her own account.

2002 - One year later, COA issued a Notice of Suspension of payment. It appears that the City of Manila took no action, because of alleged failure to serve notice properly. Hence, under the State Auditing Code, the transaction remained an unsettled account. The Notice of Suspension was based on alleged failure to submit certain documents, i.e.: original copy of deed of absolute sale; TCT in favor of City of Manila; recommendation of the Appraisal Committee; and copy of the latest tax declaration transferred from the owner to City of Manila.

March 2012 - After 11 years, COA issued Notice of Disallowance.

In Carabeo v. CA, 607 SCRA 394 (2009), the Supreme Court ruled that the term "unexplained" matter normally results from "non-disclosure" or concealment of vital facts.

It appears that the Corona SALN did not conceal the vital fact of the sale. In his 2003 SALN, Corona "mentioned the item "Cash advance from BGEI (wife's family corporation) of P11 million."

The Corona SALNs do not include the purchase price of P35 million, because Cristina Corona apparently received it from the City of Manila in trust for the corporation. The 1994 SALN form did not require the declaration of trust arrangements. Subsequently, the 2006-07 SALN Manual required the declaration of assets held in trust; but the Civil Service Commission has deferred the application of this Manual.

In law, the term "relevant" means logically connected and tending to prove or disprove a matter in issue. It means having appreciable probative value - that is, rationally tending to persuade people of the probability or improbability of some alleged fact. The word "relevant" means that the COA Notice of Disallowance, and the failure to include the purchase price of corporation property in the Corona SALN, should be so related to each other that one fact tends to prove the other fact. Under this definition, the COA Notice of Disallowance is irrelevant to this impeachment proceedings.

Under the Rules of Court, Rule 128, Sec. 4, entitled Relevancy of Evidence: "Evidence must have such a relation to the fact in issue as to induce belief in its existence or nonexistence. Evidence on collateral matters shall not be allowed, except when it tends in any reasonable degree to establish the probability or improbability of the fact in issue."

In De Paul v. NLRC, 304 SCRA 448 (1999), the SC ruled: "A party alleging a critical fact must support his allegation with substantial evidence, and any decision based on unsubstantial allegation cannot stand, as it will offend due process."

Therefore, applying the test of relevancy, and under the principle of criminal due process, I humbly submit that any evidence tending to prove any irregularity in the sale of BGEI property to the City of Manila would be irrelevant to impeachment proceedings over the alleged omissions in the SALN of the defendant. Evidence on alleged irregularities should be presented to the Solicitor General for litigation in court.

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