Wednesday, March 21, 2012

News Update Defense panel wants to present Aquino, Binay, et al SALN too

Prosecutors on Tuesday blocked defense’s request to compel some members of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism to appear before the impeachment court and bring documents including copies of SALNs mentioned in some of PCIJ’s news stories.

The prosecution team opposes defense's alleged intent to present the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth of President Benigno Aquino III and other top officials in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

After a review of the articles included in the request, the prosecution said the defense is intending to present SALNs of Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Ombudsman Conchita Morales, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Edgardo Angara, Manuel Villar, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Joker Arroyo, lead prosecutor Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas, cabinet secretaries and other government officials.

“We remind respondent that the issue in the case is his failure to disclose assets in his SALN. These public officials are not being held on trial but the respondent,” the prosecution said in its opposition letter.

“The Prosecution is convinced that the strategy now is to delay the proceedings and introduce evidence that would divert the attention of this Honorable Court and the public,” it added.

The House panel further pointed out that the requested witnesses and documents would not explain or justify Corona’s non-inclusion and misdeclaration of his assets in his SALN.

Among those included in the defense’s request for subpoena are PCIJ Executive Director Malou Mangahas and Research Director Karol Ilagan, who are to bring documents pertinent to their stories “SALN: Good law, bad results,” ‘Great filers, big barriers,” “SC Justices, Ombudsman, House keep SALN secret,” and video “Who Shall Cast the First Stone?” and its crew.

But the defense aes that such move was 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 do not constitute betrayal of public trust or moral unfitness.

The prosecution, however, said the requested evidence are “patently irrelevant indications of dilatory tactics and frivolous moves” supposedly undertaken by Corona.

Meanwhile, Enrile said the senator-judges haven’t decided yet on the defense's request for subpoena.