Defense: BGEI feud irrelevant to impeachment

Posted at 03/11/2012 2:01 PM | Updated as of 03/12/2012 7:01 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- The defense team is at a loss as to how the family feud within Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. can be linked to any of the articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Renato Corona.

In an interview with ANC, defense spokesperson Karen Jimeno said “it’s not within the impeachment court’s competence to decide whether it’s [the family’s allegations against Corona] true…It’s an irrelevant story to the articles of impeachment.”
Senator-judge Franklin Drilon wants Ana Basa and Sister Flory Basa presented as rebuttal witnesses in the impeachment trial.
The Basas, the estranged relatives of Corona’s wife Cristina, said they were shocked to learn how the company’s money came into the hands of the chief magistrate.
Sister Flory accused her niece Cristina of withholding the books of BGEI, the company which was earlier identified as the owner of the P32.6 million funds that Corona withdrew from three peso-time deposit accounts on December 12, the day that he was impeached.
The amount was supposedly proceeds from an expropriation of a BGEI property in Manila.
Corona also earlier said he got an P11-million cash advance from the company, which he used to buy a property.
“It is outside and not related to the impeachment [the intra-corporate dispute] with regard to the BGEI,” Jimeno said.
She also dismissed Sister Flory’s recollection of Corona allegedly pointing a gun at the Basa’s family househelp, Pedro Aguilon. 
She also noted: “Even if Sister Flory believes in good faith that’s what happened, it’s not unlikely that that’s the version she heard because they’re all in a dispute there [BGEI]. It might not be true.”
Jimeno said Sister Flory’s version of the incident might be hearsay.
But in a separate interview with dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the BGEI story is relevant to the trial since “this is where [Corona] got the P11-million cash advance. He said he’s paying his liabilities. If that’s his allegation, the corporation’s story is relevant. Does it have the capability to lend money?”
Valte insists that Malacanang is confident of a Corona conviction. She said the weight of the conviction will be on Article 2, which refers to Corona’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
“Corona has been giving interviews and he has not answered the discrepancies there,” she said.
The defense, meanwhile, has yet to finalize its list of witnesses and documentary evidence that will be presented.
The Senate has yet to rule on the formal offer of evidence from the prosecution. “As of now, we’re on a wait and see [on the formal offer of evidence], then we’ll know if we add or deduct,” Jimeno said.
The appearance of Mrs. Corona in the trial is also a work in progress, she said.
“It’s not something certain as of now because it will really depend on which article we’ll start with,” she said.