MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said on Wednesday she is ready to testify before the Senate impeachment court on Chief Justice Renato Corona’s alleged US$10 million bank deposits.
Carpio-Morales said she will only testify after she receives a subpoena from the impeachment court.
“If I get a subpoena, I will obey the Senate,” she said. “The Ombudsman Law is behind me. All questions about other things, I will answer if and when I will get subpoenaed.”
Carpio-Morales also said her order for Corona to explain his alleged foreign currency deposits amounting to $10 million was based on reports from media.
When asked if there’s already an investigation on Corona’s alleged dollar deposits, she said: “”None…We just walked through all the reports gathered from the media and we thought the impeachment is already going on, it was the best time to initiate investigation when we received the complaints.”
She said the Ombudsman has no choice but to look into complaints filed before her office, which is why she asked Corona to explain the supposed dollar deposits.
“I am mandated under the law to evaluate the complaints and if there are enough leads and there’s a reasonable ground – there is the word ‘reasonable’ and I again emphasize it – to believe that investigation is warranted, then the Ombudsman is mandated to request or direct the impeachable official to answer within 72 hours. It’s in the law. It’s not my choice.”
On Tuesday, defense lawyer Judd Roy asked the impeachment court to issue subpoenas to the Ombudsman and several citizens to testify on Corona’s dollar bank deposits. After these hostile witnesses testify, Roy said Corona would also appear before the court to rebut the allegations that he has $10 million.
Those to be subpoenaed include Harvey Keh, Ruperto Alerosa, Gibby Gorres, Risa Hontiveros, Walden Bello, who are petitioners in 3 cases against Corona filed before the Ombudsman.
Under the law, Corona is given 72 hours to respond to the complaint. As of Tuesday, Corona had yet to submit a reponse.
Corona has denied owning $10 million in banks, saying that the Ombudsman should explain how she got the information.