Palace dismisses Corona challenge to lawmakers

MALACANANG brushed off on Wednesday Chief Justice Renato Corona’s challenge to Senator Franklin Drilon and the 188 signatories to the impeachment case to sign a waiver opening all their bank accounts for scrutiny.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said instead of turning the tables to the lawmakers, the Chief Justice should allow himself to be cross-examined so that the truth will come out.

“We expected the Chief Justice to be cross examined yesterday (Tuesday) so that the truth will come out but instead truth suffered a lockdown,” Lacierda said.

The Palace official did not directly answer the query whether it is prudent for the lawmakers to take the challenge of Corona for the sake of administration’s campaign for transparency and accountability.

“In the spirit of transparency and accountability, the Chief Justice should allow himself to be cross examined so that the truth will come out,” he said.

Corona on Tuesday signed a waiver that he will bare all his assets but only until Drilon and the 188 lawmakers who signed his impeachment case would do the same.

In Wednesday’s trial, both Senator Franklin Drilon and lead prosecutor Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas declined to accept Corona’s challenge.

“It’s a non-issue for the prosecution. I will not sign any waiver,” Tupas said in reply to Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

Drilon, who earlier called the magistrate pathetic, said the waiver is unnecessary since he declared all his wealth in the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

“It only shows that the Chief Justice has no intention to be cross examined by the impeachment court, that he, after all, is insincere when he said he is willing to divulge all his bank accounts, including his dollar accounts,” he said in a statement.

The Chief Justice was scheduled to be cross-examined after his opening speech but he apparently walked out from the court, which angered Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who warned that Corona’s testimony would be struck off the record if he fails to return.
Corona later came back in a wheelchair as the defense team claimed the Chief Justice was suffering from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
The chief magistrate was then rushed to the hospital early Tuesday evening after his appearance at the impeachment court.

Corona failed to testify on Wednesday as he “is being treated for possible acute coronary syndrome or heart attack” at The Medical City in Pasig.

Doctors said his condition should be monitored within 48 hours while the Senate sent a medical team to come up with its own findings.
The Palace maintained that Corona was not able to clear his name of allegations against him.

“We remain firm that CJ Corona failed to controvert the evidence against him in his opening speech,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

She said Corona’s acquittal or conviction will depend on how the chief magistrate refutes accusations against him in the cross-examination.

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