Philippines' top judge testifies, walks out of trial

The Philippines' top judge denied he was a crook as he testified then dramatically walked out at his own trial Tuesday, denouncing his impeachment as a personal vendetta by President Benigno Aquino.

Aquino, who won a landslide election victory in 2010 on a platform to end corruption, has said driving Supreme Court chief justice Renato Corona from office would be a crucial step in ridding the country of pervasive corruption.

Corona was accused of failing to declare up to $12 million in bank accounts and blocking Aquino's efforts to prosecute former president Gloria Arroyo for corruption.

"I did not steal a single centavo from the government," Corona said during a three-hour testimony at his trial in the Senate, in which the 63-year-old repeatedly broke down.

"I did not violate any law," he said, and later stunned the court by standing up and leaving.

His lawyers later said Corona, a diabetic, felt unwell but assured Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile that he would return to the stand on Wednesday

"We will give him until tomorrow to return. If he will not return for cross-examination, then we'll consider this case submitted for resolution," warned Enrile.

The bulk of Corona's testimony Tuesday sought to discredit Aquino as well as Ombudsman Conchita Morales, who had disclosed documents on the chief justice's alleged 82 bank accounts that prosecutors described as a "smoking gun".

Corona said he had been investing his salary since the start of his career in 1968, but that he has just four dollar and four peso bank accounts.

They held "much less" than $12 million, he said without elaborating.

He accused the prosecutors of fabricating evidence and said he was not under any obligation to disclose the bank deposits in his annual statement of assets and liabilities.

The country's foreign currency deposits law guaranteed their secrecy, he said, adding his peso accounts were "commingled funds" including money owned by relatives.

He also offered to authorise his bankers to submit all his bank accounts to public scrutiny, but only if all the legislators who had impeached him would also sign a similar waiver.

Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives, parliament's lower chamber, in December, sending him for trial in the Senate.

Corona is the last witness in a trial that began in mid-January.

The proceedings have gripped the nation for four months, with millions watching the drama live on TV.

Prosecutors allege Corona lacked integrity, failed to declare his assets properly, and blocked Arroyo's prosecution. They said his actions amounted to "culpable violation" of the constitution and betrayal of public trust.

A guilty verdict on any of the three charges would lead to his removal from office. There is no appeal process and the government would then be able to pursue criminal charges against him over the alleged hidden wealth.

Aquino's allies have said Arroyo planted Corona in the Supreme Court just before leaving office in 2010 as a rearguard action to protect herself from future criminal prosecutions.

After ruling for nearly 10 years, Arroyo was arrested last year and charged with vote-rigging.

Corona alleged Tuesday that his impeachment was a personal vendetta by "the landlord president" following a landmark Supreme Court verdict that would break up Hacienda Luisita, a giant sugar estate owned by the president's clan.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that 4,300 hectares (10,600 acres), or most of the estate, must be subjected to land reform and sold in small parcels to its workers.

The court threw out the clan's appeal last month, leaving the government no choice but to enforce the ruling.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile
    Miriam bucks house arrest for Enrile

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believes granting Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile house arrest, while former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains under hospital detention, will violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. “That’s already a violation of the equal protection of the law,” she said. …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • 8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study
    8 of 10 cities most at risk from natural disasters located in Phl – study

    Eight of 10 world cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines and more than half of the 100 cities most exposed to earthquakes, storms and other disasters are in four Asian nations, according to a research. The study, published on Wednesday by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft, analyzed the threat posed by storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, volcanoes and landslides in more than 1,300 cities. The study found that the 10 cities most at risk are Port Vila in …

  • Ex-crew recognizes photos of sunken Japanese battleship
    Ex-crew recognizes photos of sunken Japanese battleship

    TOKYO (AP) — A former crewmember on a Japanese battleship that sank during World War II said Thursday he recognized photos of wreckage discovered this week off the Philippines by a team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options