NOY: WB REPORT PROVES REFORMS NEEDED IN JUDICIARY / CJ ON WB aide memoire

CONCEPCION, TARLAC, JANUARY 17
, 2012 (ABS-CBN) By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News —President Aquino said that the reported misuse of the World Bank loan to the Supreme Court is proof that reforms are much needed in the judicial branch of government.

“Hindi na masasabing pulitika ‘yan. Meron na pong masasabi nating independent, foreign party pa na nagrereklamo doon sa palakad sa Korte Suprema. Palagay ko dagdag pruweba pa ‘yan ng ating mga sinasabing kakulangan [na] dapat isaayos,” Aquino told reporters during the inauguration of the production plant of D’ Luxe Bags Philippines in Bgy. Sta. Rosa, Concepcion, Tarlac, Aquino’s home province.

The World Bank approved the loan in 2003 or during the time of then Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Aquino noted that the alleged irregularity happened in a specific time frame. The World Bank aide-memoire reportedly identified the misuse of the loan during the time of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“Napaka-specific ‘yung facility na niroll-out ng World Bank, parang isang ahensya lang ng gobyerno. At maski sa ahensyang ‘yun, napaka-specific rin ng time frame kung saan sila nagkaroon ng kuwestyon. Ibig sabihin, mayroon namang panahon na kung saan na nagdo-draw dun sa facility na ‘to na hindi naman kinuwestyon,” Aquino said.

The President said he has so far read the summary of the World Bank’s aide-memoire and that the Commission on Audit has also drawn findings about the loan. He said he would wait for the results of the investigation to see if anyone can be held accountable.

“After nitong impeachment na ito, maisaayos natin, na bagamat may separation of powers ay talaga namang may checks and balances na dapat mangyari. At ililinaw siguro ‘yung relasyon ng bawat sangay ng gobyerno sa bawat isa…,” he said.

Corona denies involvement in WB loan misuse abs-cbnNEWS.com Posted at 01/16/2012 6:38 PM | Updated as of 01/16/2012 6:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday denied involvement in the Supreme Court's alleged misuse of a $21-million World Bank loan.

Corona, in a speech, said the alleged misuse of the funds happened more than 10 years ago before he became chief justice.

"Ang sabi nila, meron daw pong anomalya sa World Bank project sa Supreme Court na mahigit isang dekada na po," he said. "Ang hindi nila sinabi sa publiko, napakalaking panlilinlang, nangyari po ito nung kapanahunan po bago ako maging chief justice."

"Hindi po ako ang may responsibilidad dito," Corona added. "Naganap ito hindi pa ako chief justice."

"Ang iba naman dito ay maipapaliwanag ni Judge Geraldin Econg ng PMO [Program Management Office] na syang namamahala nito sa mga pondong ito," Corona said.

Corona, who is on trial in the Senate for various issues, said he should not be held responsible for the World Bank loan controversy because has been chief justice for only a year and a half.

According to a World Bank aide memoire that was leaked to the media, the financial institution's $21-million loan to the Supreme Court was intended for reforms in the judiciary.

However, part of it was allegedly used for other purposes such as out of town trips of the SC magistrates.

On March 18, 2011, Chief Justice Renato Corona and other Supreme Court officials went to the University of Cebu.

The aide memoire said it appears that plane fares for some court officials were taken from the loan.

The World Bank is also questioning the travel allowance of 2 court officials, which reached P170,000 or $4,000 each for a 3-day trip to Sydney, Australia.

This is aside from lavish room accommodations and dinners shouldered by the Supreme Court. - with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Mar Roxas to Corona: Stop making up stories abs-cbnNEWS.com Posted at 01/16/2012 4:41 PM | Updated as of 01/16/2012 4:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Mar Roxas responded to Chief Justice Renato Corona tirade against him, saying the head of the judiciary should stop creating fallacies that would veer the public’s attention away from his impeachment trial. [PHNO: Ref - CJ's speech below]

“Sa halip na mag-imbento ng storya at gumawa ng kwento, dapat sagutin na lang ni Mr. Corona ang mga isyu sa impeachment trial," Roxas said.

“This trial is about the very serious offenses against our people for betrayal of public trust, ang pagtataksil sa bayan. Huwag na yang mag-ponensya ng mga kwentong komiks at mga kathang-isip na conspiracy kuno. Harapin nya ang katotohanan at kanyang konsensya. Huwag na syang mandamay ng kung sinu-sino pa," he added.

In a speech on Monday morning, Corona said he was a roadblock to 3 people who want him removed as the country's chief magistrate.

He said the first person wanted to stop the distribution of the Hacienda Luisita to landless farmers in Tarlac. He earlier accused Malacañang, especially the President’s allies at the Liberal Party, of planning his ouster from office after the Supreme Court decided to distribute to the farmers the sugar estate in Tarlac.

He said he is also a roadblock to a person "who really wants to be vice-president but lost in the election in 2010." He did not name the LP's vice-presidential bet, Roxas, who lost in 2010 to Jejomar Binay.

Finally, he said he is opposed to a person whose ambition is to become chief justice. He did not identify the allegedly ambitious chief justice wannabe. -- with a report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

Corona: 3 people want me out By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNNews.com Posted at 01/16/2012 11:41 AM | Updated as of 01/16/2012 9:05 PM

'I only own 5 properties on LRA list'

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday said he is a roadblock to 3 different people who want him removed as the country's chief magistrate.

Hours before the historic impeachment trial at the Senate, Corona faced his supporters anew at the Supreme Court, saying he will stand firm against those who would want to bring down the independence of the judiciary.

He cited 3 who allegedly want him removed from office because of their supposed hidden agendas.

He said the first person wanted to stop the distribution of the Hacienda Luisita to landless farmers in Tarlac. He earlier accused Malacanang, especially the President’s allies at the Liberal Party, of planning his ouster from office after the Supreme Court decided to distribute to the farmers the sugar estate in Tarlac.

He said he is also a roadblock to a person "who really wants to be vice-president but lost in the election in 2010." He did not name the LP's vice-presidential bet, Mar Roxas, who lost in 2010 to Jejomar Binay.

Finally, he said he is opposed to a person whose ambition is to become chief justice.

"Sila pong tatlo ang nagsasabwatan para mapatalsik ako sa pwesto," he said.

The impeachment trial comes at a time when the 2013 election is nearing. Some quarters are saying that the odds are against Corona since some re-electionists would not want to go against popular votes.

If he is acquitted, Corona may serve until 2018. This early, however, Malacañang already wants a shortlist of his replacement. Sources said the list includes the names of Senior Justice Antonio Carpio and Justice Lourdes Sereno.

Properties

In his speech, Corona denied that he owns 45 real estate properties which were allegedly acquired when he joined the Supreme Court in 2002. He said he only owns 5 real estate properties.

He said the list of 45 properties drawn up by the prosecution was bloated, having included parking lots, properties owned by his parents-in-law, and “Ismael Mathay Jr., who I don’t even look like.”

He said the prosecution also included titles from the original developers of the properties, including the Bellagio condominium, which had already been cancelled in his and wife’s favor.

Some of the properties were included even if these belong to his son-in-law, whom he said has the means to buy lots for being a successful doctor in Medical City. Another property, which is only 200 square meters, belongs to his daughter “who is a successful physical therapist in the United States. Why won’t she have the means to buy a 200-square-meter lot?”

He said the 5 properties in his name have been included in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). He said all these were acquired through hard work and not through fraudulent means.

Psywar

He said the prosecution came out with a bloated list to give a false impression to the public.

Add to this the fact that the government is using its agencies, such as the Land Registration Authority from which the list was obtained, to force him to bow down to a “dictatorship,” he said. LRA is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice.

He also criticized those who questioned his doctorate from the University of Santo Tomas, saying that his critics are just jealous.

He also said the psychological war did not stop there. He also noted the circumstances of the issuance of the World Bank aide memoire, which supposedly said there was a misuse of a loan intended for the Judicial Reform Support Project.

He said the one-decade-old project has been in place before he even became chief magistrate. He said the concerned agency will answer the allegations in due time.

No resignation

Corona said he will face head-on the accusations against him, confident he did not do anything wrong.

He said he recognizes the attacks against his family. Nonetheless, “ito pong laban na ito ay hindi na para sa akin at sa aking pamilya. Kung para sa akin lang, marahil matagal na akong nagbitiw.”

He said it is his duty to protect the judiciary and the interest of the country. “Kung kayat itinataya ko na ang lahat, ang aking pamilya, ang aking pangalan, katauhan, karangalan at dignidad sa labang ito.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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