Corona got P10-M discount’!

Chief Justice Renato Corona got a P10 million discount for the purchase of a penthouse unit in The Bellagio in The Fort, Taguig City, one of the impeachment prosecutors said Monday.

During Corona’s impeachment trial, private prosecutor Joseph Joemer Perez said he received information from Megaworld finance director Giovanni Ng that Corona received a P10 million discount for the 300-square-meter Bellagio property, which was purchased for P14 million.

“To be candid, the witness informed us that the chief justice received a 40% discount, or P10 million for the property. We believe this is highly material because it goes to the property in the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth,” he said after being questioned by Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III.

Perez said the P10 million discount could fall under Article 2 of the Impeachment Complaint, which accuses Corona of failure to “truthfully” disclose his SALN.

The prosecutor questioned Corona’s accepting the P10 million discount especially from a developer that might have pending cases before the SC.

Ng, meanwhile, said the sales and marketing department usually gives up to 15% discount to clients who avail of shorter term payments for units.

“In this case, the unit was paid in roughly around a year if I’m not mistaken. So we would normally give around a 15% (discount) to most if not all buyers,” he said.

He also said the marketing department gave certain considerations intricate to the Coronas’ purchase of The Bellagio condo unit.

He said the particular unit, 38-B, had technical and finishing issues that would have meant reworking the unit.

“Fortunately they were able to find a client, in this case the spouses Corona and rather than going into costly rectification but just factor in the cost and lower the cost,” he said.

He also said that at the time of acquisition in 2008, the marketing department was affected by a gloomy sentiment brought on by the onset of the global financial crisis. “They had a bearish factor towards sales,” he said.

“Marketing is responsible for the price. It is their lookout, their judgment and they have to be accountable for their decision,” he said.

The Senate impeachment court has issued a subpoena for Megaworld official Noli Hernandez on the pricing of the property, including the 40% discount.

Graft and corruption?

Rep. Erin Tañada, a House impeachment panel spokesman, said the discount goes against the Judicial Code of Conduct and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

He said judges of lower courts are penalized for accepting bribes or other benefits for lower amounts.

“We have to be fair. We must have higher standards for members of the Supreme Court,” he said during a press conference.

Prosecutors also said it violates a provision in Republic Act No. 6713 on the Code of Conduct of public officials, which states: “Solicitation or acceptance of gifts. — Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office.”

Prosecutors said they are now investigating pending cases Megaworld may have had or continue to have before the Supreme Court. They will also find out if Corona was a ponente in any cases affecting Megaworld.

A journalist-blogger, Raissa Robles, has reported [http://raissarobles.com/2012/01/07/realty-broker-coronas-posh-condo-a-steal-at-p14-million/] that Corona penned a decision favoring Megaworld in March 31, 2004.

Defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador III, meanwhile, said the information about the alleged P10 million discount did not come from Ng but the private prosecutor. “The lawyer is just there to ask questions and not testify,” he said.

Lawyer Karen Jimeno said Perez did not even swear an oath “so there is no way to find out if he is telling the truth.”

Source:  David Dizon, ABS-CBNnews.com

Prosecution scores on first day of Corona impeachment trial!

The House prosecution team was off to a good start in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona when the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, junked two pleadings favoring the chief justice, one of them a bid for a preliminary hearing — a move that, if granted, could delay the trial proper.

The Senate also denied a motion, filed by lawyer Fernando Perito, who is not from the defense team, asking the impeachment court to cite the members of the prosecution team for indirect contempt for presenting at a press conference the deed of sale of Corona’s condominium unit at The Bellagio in Taguig — an evidence in the case.

At the start of the historic trial on Monday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile denied Corona’s motion for a preliminary hearing “for lack of merit.”

In his Answer to the Articles of Impeachment, Corona sought the outright dismissal of the complaint, citing constitutional infirmities and bias against him. He then filed a separate motion asking for a preliminary hearing to declare the impeachment complaint against him “defective.”

In junking the motion, the Senate gave weight to the House prosecution team’s position, argued by lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr., that the impeachment process was done in accordance with its rules.

“It is very clear that it is verified by 188 members of the House. It went through the plenary and was approved by the plenary,” Tupas told the impeachment court.

Tupas even presented a copy of the House journal showing that the 188 signatures in the impeachment complaint were verified by House secretary-general Marilyn Baura-Yap.

Meanwhile, Enrile said he denied Perito’s petition to cite the members of the prosecution team in indirect contempt because Perito does not have a “standing” in the impeachment court.

“He is neither a lawyer for the defense or lawyer for a participant in this proceeding,” the Senate leader said.

The Senate just “noted” Corona’s motion to take the appropriate action against the prosecution team regarding the presentation of the evidence.

Section XVIII of Senate Resolution 39, which contains rules on the impeachment trial, prohibits prosecutors, senator-judges, the person impeached, their counsel and witnesses from “making any comments and disclosures in public pertaining to the merits of a pending impeachment trial.”

Prosecution welcomes ‘early victory’

Tupas, meanwhile, thanked the Senate for dismissing the two motions favoring Corona.

Nagpapasalamat kami sa impeachment tribunal doon sa dalawang motions na dinismiss. At least ‘yung inaasahan namin, nangyari naman lahat,” he said at a press briefing after the adjournment of the impeachment trial.

Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, one of the prosecutors’ spokesmen, said he hopes the favorable rulings of the Senate will motivate members of the panel.

“We are hoping that we will be doing just as well in the coming days,” he said during the same briefing.

Tupas said members of the prosecution team will not rest on their laurels after their initial victory at the Senate.

Ilang araw naming pinaghandaan ito, pero mahabang usapin pa ito. Hindi kami magiging kampante. Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang magiging paghahanda ng prosecution laban kay Corona,” he said.

He added that the prosecutors will strictly comply with Enrile’s directive to observe the rule prohibiting the public release and discussion of evidence for the impeachment trial.

Historic impeachment

Members of the 23-person Senate sit as judges to determine whether Corona, an appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, should be removed from his post and become the highest-profile scalp yet in the Aquino administration’s relentless anti-graft drive.

The session started less than an hour after Corona, who has denied the charges against him, arrived at the Senate. He was accompanied by his wife Cristina and two children, Carla and Francis. He was also accompanied by SC spokesperson and Court Administrator Midas Marquez.

Earlier in the trial, retired Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, head of the defense team, manifested the presence of Corona. He likewise manifested that Corona is entering a plea of not guilty to all charges in the impeachment complaint.

Senator Franklin Drilon, however, told Cuevas that he is only being asked to enter the appearance of the defense team and not make manifestations yet.

Cuevas agreed and introduced the remaining members of his team. 

Source: GMA News

CJ Renato Corona shows up in first hearing day!

Chief Justice Renato Corona‘s presence is felt  at the Senate for the first day of his impeachment trial.

He arrived at the Senate premises 50 minutes before the scheduled start of trial at 2:00 p.m.  He did not entertain any media interviews.

He heeded the advice of his lawyers who wanted him to appear and face his accusers during the first day of trial at the Senate.

As of the moment the impeachment proceeding is still going on in the senate.

 

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