The camp of Chief Justice Renato Corona dug its own grave when it presented a witness who testified on how the family of the chief magistrate gained control over the controversial Basa-Guidote Enterprise Inc., Senator Franklin Drilon said Wednesday.
“I think they dug their own graves. I did not see the point in presenting that sheriff, who to my mind was lying, covering up things,” Drilon told reporters in an interview.
The senator was referring to Sheriff Joseph Bisnar of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216, who testified during Tuesday’s trial.
As of posting time, GMA News Online was still trying to get a comment from the defense team.
Writ of execution
Bisnar had implemented a writ of execution in April 2003 to collect P500,000 in damages awarded by the court to Corona’s wife Cristina, who won a libel case against her relatives and stockholders in BGEI, including her aunt Raymunda G. Basa and uncle Jose Ma. Basa III.
Bisnar said he posted on the bulletin board a notice of public auction of BGEI and conducted the bidding on Sept. 30, 2003.
He also said Corona’s daughter Carla Corona-Castillo was the lone bidder and bought the 4,839 shares of Jose and Raymunda equivalent to 90.87 percent of BGEI for P28,000.
But Bisnar noted that when he implemented the writ, he was not aware that Jose Basa died eight months earlier and that Carla was related to Corona, who was an Supreme Court associate justice at the time.
Bisnar’s testimony, however, did not sit well with Drilon.
“The sale took place in 2003 [but] it took him nine years to report the sale. Why suddenly did he make a report nine years after? These to me are indications that the sheriff was lying,” he said.
In his 2004 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), Corona declared an P11-million loan from Basa Guidote. The chief justice continued to declare the loan as his liability until 2009.
The prosecution, however, questioned where the firm would be able to get its funds when its license was allegedly revoked in 2003. The defense team said it had funds from the sale of its properties, including a P34-million property sold to the Manila City government in 2001.
Despite this, Drilon said that the presentation of the sheriff was “totally unnecessary.”
Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III, for his part, said this is just part of the strategy of the defense.
“Nobody can dictate them on what they want to do, [that's] part of their strategy. We’re there just to listen,” he said in a separate interview on Wednesday.
Senator Gregorio Honasan, on the other hand, refused to comment, saying he does not want to venture into the merits of the case.
The senators, meanwhile, welcomed the pronouncement of the defense team on Tuesday that theywill let Corona testify once 10 hostile witnesses are summoned in relation to the impeached magistrate’s alleged $10-million deposits.
Defense lawyer Jose Roy III said Corona may disclose everything during the trial, including the alleged dollar accounts.
On Wednesday morning, the Senate issued a subpoena for five of the witnesses, including Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
Because of this, the senators said they may not need to revisit their voting on complying with the temporary restraining order (TRO) earlier issued by the Supreme Court against examining Corona’s dollar accounts. The Senate had voted 13-10 to comply with the order.
On Tuesday, however, Sen. Koko Pimentel changed his vote not to follow the TRO.
The senators are expected to tackle the issue during a caucus on Monday.