Likely senatorial bet escapes grilling from senator-judge-A A +A
Thursday, May 17, 2012
SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago declined to quiz former Akbayan party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros on the $10 million supposedly owned by Chief Justice Renato Corona because of her support to the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill, a measure sponsored by the feisty lawmaker.
Santiago, known for berating witnesses and lawyers in the trial for fudging answers, also waived her questions to Hontiveros because there is a "possibility she might join the Senate."
While still with the House of Representatives, Hontiveros was one of the advocates of the RH bill, which provides paid leaves for pre-natal consultations and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) coverage of family planning services and commodities, among others.
During the trial, Hontiveros admitted that she has no personal knowledge of the multi-million dollar accounts since their letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales did not contain any reference to, much less any specific allegation regarding foreign denominated deposits.
Responding to a question by Senator Panfilo Lacson, Hontiveros also denied that she was influenced by powerful individuals to file the complaint regarding Corona's unexplained wealth with the Office of the Ombudsman.
Besides Morales and Hontiveros, three others including Akbayan Representative Walden Bello, civil society leader Harvey Keh and Emmanuel Santos were subpoenaed by the impeachment court as hostile witnesses for the defense.
Unlike Hontiveros, Santiago went ballistic after Keh got hold of documents allegedly containing the bank transactions of Corona’s dollar accounts.
Aside from being an "incompetent" complainant, Santiago questioned Keh's way of advocating good governance when he allegedly violated the bank secrecy law for floating the said documents.
"You filed a complaint with the Ombudsman that you don't even have sufficient knowledge? You are now in jeopardy of being charged criminally," Santiago told Keh.
Keh earlier submitted to the office of Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile the documents in a sealed brown envelope, saying he left the decision to the impeachment court if they are going to touch on these.
"All evidence against the Chief Justice are grossly exaggerated, fabricated, coming from illegal sources and can't stand legal scrutiny, and do not support conviction," defense lawyer Dennis Manalo said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)