MANILA, FEBRUARY 14, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Paolo Romero - Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. yesterday downplayed efforts to file an impeachment complaint against President Aquino by a taxpayer over an alleged fraudulent sale of a government property in Baguio City.

Belmonte was commenting on the move of Danilo Lihaylihay, president of the Philippine Association of Revenue Informers Inc., to have Aquino impeached for allegedly committing “massive tax fraud” for the P500-million sale of the 3.4-hectare government property known as Governor’s Park located along Session Road in Baguio City.

In his affidavit-complaint, Lihaylihay said Aquino, along with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and SM Investments, “committed massive tax evasion fraud and graft and corrupt practices through conspiracy and connivance” for failing to remit to the government the taxes due resulting from the sale of the government property. Lihaylihay wrote House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez asking him to endorse the complaint so the impeachment process against Aquino can start.

But the Speaker said the President had nothing to do with the sale since the transaction of selling the property to SM happened between the time of then President Fidel Ramos and the completion of documentation in 2011. “This (complaint) will not fly because it is baseless and unfounded. The President has nothing to do with the transaction. The story was not true. The auction and award were done in 1992 and the full payment was in 1997. The documentation was completed in 2011,” Belmonte said. Members of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives held a closed door meeting yesterday to discuss Lihaylihay’s complaint.

After the meeting, Suarez said he was given the authority by opposition lawmakers to study the complaint and decide whether it was worthy of endorsement.

“We have to conduct some research on this. We need to communicate with concerned agencies on this particular transaction. We have to study the complaint carefully,” Suarez told The STAR. Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tańada III said the complaint has “no basis and it will not prosper.” Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara said “any member of Congress or any citizen has the right to file impeachment raps against certain officials in the government.”

Lihaylihay had earlier accused former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of plunder for the alleged illegal sale of the old Iloilo airport. – With Artemio Dumlao


PNoy: Peso accounts enough to convict Corona Posted at 02/13/2012 10:32 PM | Updated as of 02/13/2012 11:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona's peso bank accounts that were not reflected in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALNs) are enough for the Senate impeachment court to find him guilty and remove him from office, President Benigno Aquino said on Monday.

"Doon pa lang sa na-unearth na peso accounts, malaki na ang diperensya na mukhang napatunayan na iyung kaso," he said after a command conference with officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Aquino said the differences in Corona's SALNs and cash in bank accounts can prove Article 2 of the impeachment complaint.

Article 2 accuses Corona of not truthfully disclosing his SALNs as required by the Constitution.

Corona had a total bank balance of P19,728,555.39 from 2 peso accounts in Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) as of end-December 2010, records from the bank showed last Wednesday.

Corona also had a total bank balance of P12 million in a Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) checking account as of December 31, 2010, bringing to P31,752,623.09 his cash in 3 accounts from 2 different banks as of the end of 2010.

These bank balances are much higher than the P3.5 million cash and investments he declared in his SALN for 2010.

Various documents from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Registrars of Deeds in cities where the Coronas have real properties also show discrepancies between his actual properties and what he declared in his SALNs.

Aquino believes the prosecution will have other avenues to secure other relevant data related to the impeachment complaint.

'Defense losing confidence'

When asked about the defense's allegation that the Palace is offering a P100 million bribe to each senator-judge, Aquino said the defense team may be losing confidence in themselves.

"Noong araw wala nang nagawa kung hindi laitin ang prosecution panel. Ngayon para bang nawalan sila ng tiwala sa kakayahan nilang lampasuin ang ating mga prosecutors," Aquino said.

He added he will not give dignity to the defense's allegation by commenting further on the issue. "Di ko na siguro bibigyan ng dignidad ang kanilang mga akusasyon."

He reminded the defense lawyers to present proof when making an accusation. - report from Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News


President Noynoy Aquino meddling in Corona impeachment trial February 13, 2012 By Ilda

President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) released yet another disturbing statement when he voiced his disappointment over the Supreme Court’s decision to grant the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the Senate impeachment court order compelling PSbank to release records on foreign currency accounts allegedly belonging to impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Considering PNoy insisted that he took no part in the decision to impeach the Chief Justice, why does he feel the need to help the prosecution by meddling in the proceedings of the impeachment court?

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez could not help but notice that the President is throwing his weight around again and had “blatantly and carelessly displayed his gang-lord mentality.”

As usual, the President gave lame reasons behind his challenging Chief Justice Corona into disclosing the said account. He “dared Corona to voluntarily open his dollar accounts to scrutiny to prove he had nothing to hide.”

But why should he? Even House Deputy Minority Leader and Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay found it ridiculous that PNoy expects the Chief Justice to incriminate himself.

No one in his right mind will incriminate himself,” Magsaysay said.

“The burden of proof is with the accusers, and so far they have been bungling and messing up their cause.

“The President and his cohorts know deep in their hearts that the purported pieces of bank evidence against the chief justice were illegally acquired, and therefore are questionable, toxic documents with no probative value and that are inadmissible in court.”

What PNoy is asking is akin to saying, “I want to prove you are corrupt but you have to give me some evidence.” And as mentioned before, the presentation of Corona’s alleged dollar accounts and his existing peso accounts are not covered by the articles of impeachment. The impeachment court resolved earlier that the evidence for Article 2.4 would be disallowed. Article 2.4 pertains to the alleged “ill-gotten wealth” of the Chief Justice.

PNoy and his mouthpieces in the media also insinuated that Chief Justice Corona is hiding behind the law. Never mind that it was PSbank that sought the TRO from the Supreme Court.

It seems that to PNoy, any move even by private institutions that appear to favor PNoy’s political enemies is seen as a desperate act of hiding the “truth”. Likewise, he implied that PSBank could be protecting people who are into money laundering and other criminal activities when he said that “laws protecting foreign currency accounts from undue scrutiny were not meant to protect criminals and their loot stashed as dollar deposits in the country’s banks.”

PNoy asked another head scratcher when he threw the question “Can persons who did something wrong place the proceeds of their crimes into a dollar account?” As if he is not even aware that some people are already doing that.

I personally think that he should refrain from thinking aloud specially in front of the media because what comes out tends to show just how clueless he is. Obviously, some people are already using that loophole in the law.

But one can’t assume that just because someone has a dollar account he or she is already hiding something. Speaking of dollar accounts, on Friday Malacańang refused to divulge PNoy’s dollar accounts. If PNoy doesn’t want to show his, how can he expect others to show theirs?

In trying to convince the public that issuing a TRO against the disclosure of the alleged dollar accounts was wrong, PNoy also mentioned that it could have an impact on the economy.

His statement is another indication that his views about the economy seem quite limited. When he acknowledged that the law could encourage depositors, he should have already realized that it would be good for the economy.

The President of the Philippines should know that “the exemption of the foreign currency deposits from attachment, garnishment or any other order process of any court is to assure the development and speedy growth of the Foreign Currency Deposit System and the Offshore Banking System in the Philippines; another reason is to encourage the inflow of foreign currency deposits into the banking institutions thereby placing such institutions more in a position to properly channel the same to loans and investments in the Philippines, thus directly contributing to the economic development of the country.”

Another point the chief executive tried to make was when he cited that in 1989, the Supreme Court decided to allow the disclosure of Greg Bartelli y Northcott’s dollar account in his trial for the rape of then 12 year-old Karen Salvacion. First of all, it is worth stressing that it was the Supreme Court, not an Impeachment Court, who decided to allow it; and second, PNoy conveniently forgot to mention that R.A. 6426 was held to be “inapplicable” to that case because of its “peculiar circumstances.” Here is the final transcript of the ruling:

R.A. 6426 are hereby held to be INAPPLICABLE to this case because of its peculiar circumstances. Respondents are hereby REQUIRED to COMPLY with the writ of execution issued in Civil Case No. 89-3214, Karen Salvacion, et al. vs. Greg Bartelli y Northcott, by Branch CXLIV, RTC Makati and to RELEASE to petitioners the dollar deposit of respondent Greg Bartelli y Northcott in such amount as would satisfy the judgment.

The reason why it was peculiar was because the suspect, an American tourist escaped from jail and after “hearing the testimony of Karen, the Court [believed] that it was undoubtedly a shocking and traumatic experience”, which required compensation.

Obviously, the decision of the Supreme Court in the Salvacion case in 1989 cannot be applied to the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona now because the latter hasn’t been found guilty or liable for any damages yet.

What’s disturbing in PNoy’s meddling is when he said that the “Palace was considering appealing the TRO on the basis the Supreme Court may not interfere in impeachment proceedings.”

Again, the President’s minders need to remind him that he cannot interpret the law the way he wants to because the Supreme Court is the sole and final interpreter of the law. Otherwise, he is just confirming to the public the allegations that he is the main instigator in the bid to oust Chief Justice Corona.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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