Sotto doubts defense promise to disclose Corona dollars

MANILA, Philippines - Senate Majority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III is not counting on the promise of Chief Justice Renato Corona's lawyers that he will disclose his dollar accounts.

In an interview on Monday, May 14, Sotto expressed doubt on the statement of Corona's lawyers that the chief magistrate will open his dollar accounts once he takes the witness stand. 

"It can be subject to interpretation. Hindi malinaw. Sinabi lang ng defense iyon, hindi siya ang nagsabi noon e." (It's unclear. Only the defense said that, it wasn't he who said that.) 

Sotto said he is not buying the statement because in the past, there were instances when the defense counsels turned back on their word. 

He cited the statement of lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas asking for a subpoena of Corona's bank records with the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Cuevas later backtracked, saying Corona called to inform his lawyers that he had the documents for their perusal.

Sotto said, "There was something like that so until it's the Chief Justice who says so (open his dollar accounts), we cannot just say that [the lawyers' promise] is just like a waiver. Hindi pwedeng (It can't be) just like." 

Sotto said while the Senate cannot dictate on the defense's strategy, the panel must be careful about its pronouncements. 

"In the end you answer for your strategies if it’s good for you or not. Maybe they won't change their mind [about opening the dollar accounts] because that will be very detrimental to their cause."

Corona's dollar accounts will be in the spotlight during Monday's impeachment trial as Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is set to testify on her office's investigation into alleged $10-million dollar deposits of the chief justice.

It was the defense panel that requested the court to subpoena the Ombudsman and five others to shed light on the matter. - Rappler.com