3 Cebu lawmakers willing to sign waiver-A A +A
Thursday, May 24, 2012
CEBU CITY –- Three of the five Cebuano legislators who signed the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona said they’re ready to accept his challenge to have their bank accounts scrutinized by the public.
Representatives Rachel Marguerite “Cutie” del Mar (Cebu City, north district), Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu Province, 4th district) and Gabriel Luis Quisumbing (Cebu Province, 6th district) said they are open to signing a waiver on the secrecy of their bank deposits.
“Yes, I am inclined to sign a waiver,” del Mar said in a text message sent to Sun.Star Cebu.
Quisumbing said he does not have a problem with signing a waiver, but he pointed out that it is Corona, and not the members of the House who signed the impeachment complaint, who is on trial.
“But why should we agree on the condition the Chief Justice set on us to shield himself from revealing his bank accounts?” Quisumbing asked.
At the Senate on Wednesday, lead prosecutor Representative Niel Tupas Jr. (Iloilo, 5th district) and Senator Franklin Drilon also declined to sign the waiver.
“It’s not the issue here,” said Tupas. Drilon added that signing such a waiver would be “disastrous for the banking system” but did not get a chance to elaborate.
In front of the senator-judges last Tuesday, the Chief Justice signed a waiver that he said would authorize the disclosure of his bank accounts, real estate and other assets by the banks and government agencies.
He set a difficult condition. He would only submit his waiver if all the 188 lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint, as well as Senator Drilon, sign similar waivers as well.
“We are all on trial here,” Corona said, adding the lawmakers should join him in “a moment of truth”.
Quisumbing said Corona should not attach such a condition if he is sincere about revealing the details of his bank accounts.
“Corona is being impeached because of alleged impropriety while in office, that is the main issue,” said Quisumbing. He said the Chief Justice should lead by example on the issue of justice and transparency.
Salimbangon said he also does not have a problem with signing a waiver.
“Anyway, it will be up to House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. Pero kung ako lang wa koy problema ana (but if you ask me, I have no problem with that,” Salimbangon said.
Representatives Quisumbing, Salimbangon, del Mar, Ramon Durano VI (Cebu Province, 5th) and TUCP party-list Representative Raymund Democrito Mendoza are among the 188 congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint.
For his part, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama does not agree with Corona’s challenge for other officials to disclose their bank account details.
“He is the one being impeached. He should be the one answering,” the mayor said.
As for Corona’s “walkout,” it surprised those who attended the hearing, said del Mar.
“I was there at the Senate and we were all baffled because he had not been discharged yet,” she told Sun.Star Cebu.
Rama, though, does not believe that Corona walked out on the Senate. He believes the Chief Justice experienced “an authentic health crisis” after sitting on the witness stand for nearly three hours.
Corona’s explanation for not declaring his dollar accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) was that the law, specifically Republic Act 6426, granted all foreign currency accounts “absolute confidentiality.”
If there were any errors in his SALN, these may be corrected and are not impeachable offenses, he again told the Senate last Tuesday.
He was rushed to a hospital Tuesday night, and remained there Wednesday, under sedation, said lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas.
In his news conference on Wednesday, Rama said he wishes that the Senate will conclude and decide on the impeachment complaint soon so the country can move on.
The current situation is counter-productive, he said, because the people would rather follow the impeachment proceedings on the television the whole afternoon.
He hopes, though, that the continuation of the trial would lessen crime incidents, since the people would be glued to their TV sets. (OCP/JGA/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 24, 2012.