Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza took the witness stand Thursday to testify that the city government of Manila bought a parcel of land from Chief Justice Renato Corona’s wife, Cristina.
Atienza told the impeachment court that Corona's wife, acting in behalf of Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI), sold a 1,000-sq. m. land in Manila worth P34.7 million to be converted as a relocation site for the Sampaloc market in 2001.
The defense said it will also show that from the P34.7 million earned from the selling of the land, the chief justice borrowed P11 million to purchase the La Vista property in Quezon City which he declared in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
The prosecution, however, said that the P34.7 million should be declared in Corona's SALN.
“Our theory is that the P34.7 million from the Manila government was misappropriated by Mrs. Corona. She deposited it on her personal account and treated it as her own,” lead prosecutor Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas said.
“The position of the prosecution here is that even the property of the wife should be declared in the SALN,” Tupas added.
Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas countered this and said the money belonged to BGEI and was only received by Mrs. Corona “in trust.”
Cuevas also argued that there is no evidence that the P34.7 million was deposited to the Coronas' personal accounts.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ralph Recto asked the defense about the P36 million Corona withdrew from his account in Dec. 12 2011, the day he was impeached in the House of Representatives, as earlier testified by Philippine Savings Bank officials.
After PSBank officials' testimonies, defense told the media that Corona had to close the accounts because the money was not his but belonged to his wife’s company, the BGEI.
Cuevas, however, pointed out that it is not the evidence they are presenting yet.
“You’re making a summation of fact solely on basis in favor of one party. That's very unfair,” the lead defense counsel told Recto.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile clarified that the defense has yet to establish where the P34.7 million went.
The Corona camp will continue presenting evidence on May 7 after the Senate’s month-long Lenten break.