The ongoing testimony of “hostile witness” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is a damning one. She pointed that the report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Chief Justice Renato Corona’s foreign currency bank accounts exposed 82 accounts in 5 banks with 705 transactions, worth nothing less than US$10 million. The amount is separate from US$12 million in “fresh” new deposits.
This is the smoking gun evidence prosecutors have been waiting for. The Corona Supreme Court had issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the impeachment court on precisely these accounts. However, the Ombudsman investigation circumvented the TRO by citing its constitutional power to investigate even impeachable officials and to ask other government agencies–in this case the AMLC–in the investigation.
The Senate Impeachment Court allowed the AMLC report to be submitted as evidence and unanimously voted for it to be presented publicly in an easier manner through a Powerpoint presentation. The AMLC report (and the Ombudsman-COA analysis) simply portrays an individual who is using the foreign currency facility to transact big-money activities, obviously benefiting from the facility’s legally-guaranteed security and secrecy features.
This does not bode well for the Chief Justice and it will be very, very difficult to explain how such a huge amount of nearly half-billion pesos came into his possession during his stay at the Supreme Court from 2003 to the present. It is important to note that the Constitution prohibits senior government officials from getting a second job, a private practice, or second source of regular income while in office.
To all intents and purposes, the prosecution case is made, and, unless the defense can come up with a quick, impressively persuasive testimony to dispel or refute the Ombudsman testimony, the impeachment verdict may already be decided by individual senator-judges. Certainly, there is no doubt of the public opinion on this.
Ombudsman Carpio-Morales has given CJ Corona his crown of thorns. There is even doubt if his personal testimony will suffice to undo the damaging testimony. However, he has no more option left: Either he resigns or he testifies to make his explanations.