(UPDATE) As the impeachment trial comes to a close, the prosecution team reiterated that Chief Justice Renato Corona does not deserve to be the country's top magistrate.
At the same time, the prosecution, led by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, have urged the Senator-judges to vote according to conscience."
"Your honors, see through the character of Renato Corona. Vote according to conscience," Belmonte said Monday.
"Find Chief Justice Corona guilty. May the truth be your guide," he added.
This, as the prosecution team asserted in its closing statement that Corona is not “morally fit” to serve.
“Is Corona morally fit to remain as chief justice of the Supreme Court? The damning revelations go to the very core. Pagkatao ang pinaguusapan natin dito,” lead prosecutor Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. said.
Tupas said the prosecution has presented evidence that “cast doubt on the moral fitness of the chief justice,” proving that Corona lied about his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth “to conceal his wealth.”
He noted that Corona himself admitted that he owns peso and dollar accounts which he did not declare in his SALN.
But Corona justified his non-disclosure of dollar accounts by citing the banking secrecy and foreign currency deposit units (FCDU) laws, which Tupas said is unacceptable.
“This interpretation of the law is very disturbing. There is no conflict between the constitutional requirement of SALN and the FCDU Act.
SALN requires all government employees to declare assets. It makes no distinction between peso and dollar,” Tupas said.
The prosecutor said Corona should be judged by the "highest standards” as what he did is of “highest order.”
“The House of Representatives took the first step to fulfill our oath that we are the keeper of our people's trust. It is now up to the senator-judges to take the final step to restore the greatness that we have lost.
The people are hopeful. Let us make it right. Let's decide in favor of truth. Let us be done with Chief Justice Corona,” Tupas said.
The prosecution also enumerated what they claim are Corona's inconsistencies in his testimony.
“I can put Corona's defense in one word: palusot,” Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Farinas told the impeachment court.
Farinas said the chief justice lied about investing in foreign exchange since the late 1960s, noting that the exchange rate then was at P4 is to $1 and not P2 is to $1.
He added that it seemed Corona wanted to make the people believe that he started buying dollars when he was still in school.
The prosecutor also questioned the alleged commingled funds of Corona’s undeclared P80-million peso accounts.
“Hindi iyon totoong commingled. Bakit sa kaniya lang nakapangalan ang depositor? It is presumed that you are the owner of the funds kung sa iyo nakapangalan ito,” he said.
Farinas further questioned that if Corona had all these money, why did he have to acquire loans as reflected in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
“Kung totoong nakaipon siya, all these years nandoon pera niya, bakit pa siya mangungutang?” he said.
“Our nation does not deserve a chief justice who consistently hides a great bulk of his assets, declaring only 2 percent of his total cash assets.
Huwag niyo pong palusutin si Corona. Ito po ang ginintuang pagkakataon natin. Huwag po tayong magpadala sa mga palusot at madramang pahayag niya,” Farinas appealed to the court.
The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …