For the defense team, Chief Justice Renato Corona has not incurred an impeachable offense when he did not disclose his dollar accounts in his statement of assets.
“Non-disclosure of bank accounts does not amount to an impeachable offense. Official should not be removed from office for minor breach of law,” defense counsel Eduardo delos Angeles said in his closing argument.
Delos Angeles reiterated that Corona did not declare his dollar accounts because he believed “in good faith” in the confidentiality of foreign deposits as provided by the laws on banking secrecy and foreign currency deposit units (FCDU).
“In this case, there is no showing that the non-inclusion of certain bank accounts is tainted with any malice or fault. Let us not mistake Corona's use of the confidentiality provision to promote abuse.
There is no liability for an erroneous interpretation of the law when made in good faith,” the defense counsel said.
He also pointed out that incorrect filing of statement of assets, liabilities and net worth has corrective measures, or could only result to a penalty of a fine not exceeding P5,000 or imprisonment of not exceeding five years, but not removal from office through impeachment.
“The chief justice relied on sound legal basis and in all instances is guided by good faith. Through signing the waiver, Chief Justice Corona has set the standard of transparency in public service,” Delos Angeles said.
The defense also appealed to the impeachment court to “act independently” following the “unusual rubberstamping of the House of Representatives” who are acting upon the orders of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
Delos Angeles stressed that Aquino wanted the chief justice impeached and his administration lent full powers to oust Corona and intimidate the Supreme Court.
“Let not this institution allow the guillotine to fall on judicial independence. It is our fervent hope that Senate will not lend assistance to this plot," he said.
"We request that you render a verdict of acquittal,” he added.
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …