Santiago Offers Corona Defense Advice

MANILA, Philippines - To strengthen his defense, Chief Justice Renato Corona should face the impeachment court that will resume trial on May 7.

This was the opinion of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who said the senator judges will have the chance to examine Corona's demeanor while being questioned of his alleged properties and his multi-million dollar accounts if the chief justice appears during the trial.

"As a former trial judge, I think that if the CJ appears he will strengthen his defense. But if his lawyers feel that it will not help his defense that is his prerogative," Santiago said.

"Mas maganda din sana kung makita natin yung defendant himself, the accused himself kung itong taong ito, inaapi lang , mukhang kawawa o nagagalit na talaga or evasive," Santiago said.

The lady Senator made her call again after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio -Morales asked Corona to answer formal complaints over his alleged $10-million in dollar accounts, which were said to be beyond his legal source of income.

But Corona and his defense team have denied existence of such accounts, describing the Ombudsman's move as a witch hunt.

Meanwhile, Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, spokesman of the House panel prosecuting Corona, said the chief justice could redeem himself before public's eyes by allowing the Senate Impeachment Court to examine his bank accounts despite an SC temporary restraining order.

"He should just open all his dollar accounts and disregard the TRO so he can explain to the people directly. The growing doubts of the people on his truthfulness are due to his resort to technicalities to hide the truth. Until he voluntarily allows his dollar accounts to be examined, people's trust will not be restored," Quimbo said.

"Had he decided to open his dollar accounts when he was required to do so, none of these speculations would have arisen," he said.

Another House prosecution panel spokesperson, Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara branded Corona's claims as baseless.

"The Chief Justice himself is the only one who can answer the allegations against him, since he promised he would in due time, now is the perfect time for him to do it," Angara said.

Quimbo and Angara said that Corona's continued refusal to face the Senate Impeachment Court would only backfire on him, even as they asked him to stop playing martyr because surveys show majority of the Filipinos believe that he is guilty of betraying public trust. (With a report from Charissa M. Luci)