Corona fuming mad over dollar accounts, lawyer says

Posted at 05/10/2012 10:53 PM | Updated as of 05/11/2012 2:04 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona decided to take the witness stand in his impeachment trial because he got mad at reports over his alleged dollar accounts, one of his lawyers said Thursday.

Corona is determined to clarify the issue surrounding his alleged dollar accounts, Atty. Ramon Esguerra told ANC's "Tamano Perspective."

"When the Chief Justice was confronted with the copies [of the reports on the alleged dollar accounts], he got mad, fuming mad, saying in front of me that these were fabrications," Esguerra said.

"We were ready actually to close last Tuesday but this matter developed and that changed the entire color of the trial," he added.

The defense said Corona is ready to answer any question that will be posed to him during the trial.

However, his lawyers have not yet prepared any waiver for the chief justice to divulge information on his bank accounts.

"I cannot answer that now. We still have to meet on that because the chief justice is currently out of town. hopefully over the weekend we'll be able to address that," Esguerra said.

For the prosecution however, Corona's decision to testify was a shift in the defense strategy because his lawyers have allegedly run out of options.

The prosecution said the witnesses the defense has so far presented have been unable to clearly explain alleged discrepancies in Corona's statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth.

Prosecution spokesperson Rep. Erin Tañada said they're ready for Corona's testimony.

"Even during the break we were already preparing," he said. "We felt that they had already exhausted... sources of income, BGEI. There was no other option but for Mrs. Corona or the chief justice to testify."

Cuevas faces Bautista anew

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas will present Corona while lead private prosecutor Mario Bautista will cross examine the chief justice.

"I think it will be a respectful free-for-all. That's one thing," Tañada said.

"Second, I think the personality of Atty. Mario Bautista would show that he is not the person who raises his voice. He's very respectful. So from the side of the prosecution, we can at least commit here that the person who will conduct it will be very respectful of the chief justice," he added.

Bautista served as private prosecutor in presenting Clarissa Ocampo as the key witness in the impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada

Cuevas served as Estrada's lawyer in the same trial.

House prosecutors said Corona's decision to take the witness stand can be an opportunity for him and his office to regain the respect and trust of the Filipino people. - report from ANC