At past 2PM, Corona took the witness stand but before the trial started, he ask the permission of the presiding judge Senator Juan Ponce – Enrile if he can read his opening statement to which Enrile permitted.
Corona’s speech lasted for 3 hours, debunking all allegations being hurled against him in the past 5 months of the trial. He enumerated several issues which according to him are lies and results of fabricated evidences by the current government. He again reiterated that his impeachment was brought about by “Hacienderong Pangulo’s” vengeance to their decision of giving back Hacienda Luisita to the farmers. He also denied the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales which he earlier called “lantern of lies”, saying he has no 82 dollar accounts but only 4 since most of them were already closed. In answering why he didn’t include it to his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, he invoked the provisions on the Bank Secrecy Law which according to him is absolute. With regards to the peso accounts which according to him was not 31 but only 3, he explained that those were shared accounts meaning those were not his sole money thus should not be part or should not be included in his SALN.
After his lengthy statement, towards the end, he showed a waiver where he signed in-front of the public which will open all his bank accounts for scrutiny but to the condition that all the 188 impeachment complainants and Sen. Frank Drilon will also sign the same waiver for their bank accounts. After that challenge, he addressed the people and the court that “He is the Chief Justice and he needed to be excused”, then walking out of the court without officially being discharged.
This action of the Chief Justice caused commotion in the Senate Impeachment Court and caught the ire of the presiding judge who eventually asked the Senate Sgt at Arms to block all exits in the Senate and asked the defense panel to brought back the Chief Justice to the court.
After several minutes, Corona came back to the court in a wheelchair because according to his lawyers he suffered from hypoglycemia brought about by not eating lunch. On that moment lead defense counsel apologized to Enrile saying the actions of their client was not planned and in no way an act to disrespect the impeachment court.
Enrile accepted the apology but cautioned Corona’s lawyer’s that he wants respect to be accorded to the court as he accorded to the Chief Justice. He also commanded the defense panel to present Corona tomorrow for cross-examination or else he may be moved to strike-out all the statements issued by Corona in today’s trial.
- Walkout-marred trial adjourned (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Philippine Justice Denies Charges, Blames Aquino (abcnews.go.com)