The fatal error of the Corona impeachment prosecution team

Yesterday (the 13th of Feb) proved to be a humbling day for both the prosecution and and the Senate impeachment court. A house of cards built upon unlawfully-obtained information came crashing down after thirteen senators voted to honour a temporary restraining order (TRO) on an order issued by the Senate tribunal for Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to open a number of foreign currency deposit accounts for scrutiny. Worse, under intense cross-examination, PS Bank Katipunan branch manager Annabelle Tiongson eventually admitted under oath that “copies” of bank documents allegedly handed over to Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali by a “small lady” were not consistent with any document PSBank makes use of in any of its account processing and records management procedures.

As it is, even disregarding the issue of the authenticity of these documents, a number of people are already potentially chargeable for serious offenses against Philippine bank secrecy laws — including Umali, the alleged “small lady” (if she exists), lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr, and “online journalists” Magtanggol de la Cruz and Carmela Fonbuena. All of these people had contributed to putting the Senate tribunal in the embarrassing position of having to answer to a Supreme Court ruling and at one time or another over the last several days could have been either perpetrators or accessories to the obtaining, distribution, and malicious exchange of illegally-obtained information.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

For now, “investigative reporter” Raissa Robles who had been the subject of persistent rumours that she could be Umali’s “small lady” informant may be safe from further speculation after Senator-Judge Vicente “Tito” Sotto III reported that closed circuit (CCTV) cameras failed to capture any evidence that there was any such “small lady”. So far, this is the only third-party corroboration of Robles’s personal denials that she was not said “small lady”. However, this only puts Umali (and, by direct association, Tupas) back in the spotlight for mentioning a character in this drama that might not ever had existed to begin with — a hypothetical character upon which several days worth of hearings on Corona’s alleged “ill-gotten wealth” could be hinged. Indeed, as the defense team pointed out

[…] the entire testimony of the Philippine Savings Bank officers could be stricken out of the records if it was found the documentary evidence pertaining to Corona’s bank accounts was obtained illegally.

“[Illegally-obtained] evidence is inadmissible, so everything that we have done in days, weeks will be thrown out,” defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador said during a press conference after the proceedings on Monday.

“You are gathering evidence by requesting a subpoena from this honorable court. And I warn you that this is going to be fatal error on your part,” Enrile thundered as Tupas stared back wide-eyed.

The Supreme Court TRO is as robust as it gets; a reality that Senator-Judge Miriam Santiago articulates in an excellent mini-treatise on the matter where she cites “six grounds” for a case to obey the TRO. The reasons to follow the TRO as spelt out by Santiago are simple and very accessible even to non-lawyers. Indeed, after “senator-judge” Pia Cayetano launched into a verbose blurb about how the Americans do their impeachments over there, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, in a response that lasted less than a minute, simply cited that they do so over there under American laws and that his court will proceed under Philippine law.

Nevertheless, there were no less than ten “senator-judges” who countered the earlier thirteen with a vote to disobey the Supreme Court TRO. They are named in an report

Those who voted to defy the TRO were Senate Minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano , Senators Franklin Drilon, Serge Osmena III, Edgardo Angara, Pia Cayetano, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, Lito Lapid and Teofisto Guingona III.

Suffice to say, that if what the defense team revealed in a press conference they held on Sunday that Php100 million (allegedly courtesy of Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa’s deep pockets) was up for grabs for each “senator-judge” who would vote to defy the Supreme Court TRO is true, the list of names of possible takers to speculate on just got shorter.

One such “senator-judge” at the moment sticks out like a sore thumb. Marissa Lapid, the wife of “senator-judge” Lito Lapid Jr, is currently embroiled in a smuggling debacle in the United States after she was caught carrying $50,000 in undeclared cash. “Senator” Lapid himself seems to have some explaining to do with regard to his own personal wealth if the following information in that same report is accurate…

Lapid declared a net worth of P10.1 million in 2004, his first year in the Senate. Seven properties titled to him were estimated at P256 million, excluding a house in San Diego, California.

Many of the family’s properties in the Philippines were allegedly not declared in Lapid’s statements of assets and liabilities and net worth (SALN) in 1995-2004, when he was Pampanga governor.

What were allegedly not declared in the 2003 SALN when his net worth was P10.1 million were a hilltop mansion in Porac and the three-story Mar-Man Building on Scout Borromeo Street in Quezon City.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents show that Lapid is a co-owner of Classic Films International and Mar-Man Farms Corp. None of these reported big profits. The film company reported losing P5.49 million in 1996. Mar-Man, registered in 1993, has not filed financial statements in the SEC. The Lito Lapid College Foundation, set up in 1992, reported a net loss of P1.2 million in 1998.

“Senator” Lapid also recently signed up for a presumably lucrative showbiz gig with ABS-CBN (NB: ABS-CBN benefited mightily from the ascent to power of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s mother the late former President Cory Aquino).

“Kailangan kong kumayod,” (my translation: “I need to scrape hard to make a living”) said the action man which leads us to wonder what sort of financial obligations he might be saddled with to have to juggle several jobs.

How many of the other nine “senator-judges” who voted to plunge Philippine democracy into anarchy could be in a similar hypothetical bind? Nagtatanong lang naman

The “lateness of the hour” at which another day in the impeachment circus ended yesterday was noted by Senator-Judge Tito Sotto as he moved to adjourn the session. Perhaps that lateness proved to be one of the few things that worked for the prosecution team yesterday, as the darkness of the Manila night served well to mask their exit from the Senate building, tails between their legs and heads hanging low from their stooped shoulders. If I were the prosecution, I’d at least see the silver lining surrounding the dark clouds that now loom above them: at least now, some “senator-judges” no longer need to pretend they are the “impartial”, “objective” and “law-respecting” members of the court they presume to belong to. For their sake, let us hope Hacienda Luisita turns out to be worth the cost to their “honour”.

47 Replies to “The fatal error of the Corona impeachment prosecution team”

  1. at least now the world can that see th
    at the rule of law and due process is a joke in the philippines.
    it was an opportunity to show progress but still clearly jungle monkeys, still 3rd world, and everything ruled by self-interest, personal greed, and no integrity.
    no wonder not one of these law makers has ever worked abroad. we despise such deceit and the values they represent.
    contemptible is the only polite word that applies to congress and many members of congress.
    at least we do not allow them into civilised society in the west.

    1. @jay, you are specific to the crocs in congress with your comment (ie. jungle monkey etc), aren’t you? 🙂
      yep, we’ve long been a suffering people, admittedly because many in this country have been voting for the wrong-est people again and again. this odd-looking-and-behaving president is no different.

  2. Under siege and threatened with perjury, I could now imagine Cromwellian Sir Neil Tupas Jr shouting to fellow prosecution knight Rep Umali:

    “In the name of the Truth, get the Small Lady!!!”

    Baka white lady, kaya invisible. 🙂

    1. @Twoface

      It is logical to assume that these details came from PSBank, as for the source, we are still unable to determine such. It would help if the BSP already finished investigating and also if the logbook for accessing these signature cards are forwarded to both BSP and Impeachment.

      We cannot say it is her who is lying as we are not 100% sure of that because there is still no evidence of such.

    2. @twoface

      Why do you ignore the fact that it could be Tiongson committing perjury?

      The inference from mere possibility to actuality is invalid. Evidence trumps [your] malice. Tiongson is more in line with forensic evidence (in which documents are fake and malicious). The prosecution’s credibility has been eroding since the beginning. Their supporters’ as well as their own over-zealousness to treat objective truth as if it were merely optional and political back fires at them. Even the integrity of Senator-Judges are threatened when dragged down to the level of the prosecution. Miriam is trying her darnest not to let the impeachment court conform to the shady methods of the prosecution and end up as a historical embarrassment.

    3. Lord Chimera

      I didn’t say that she IS lying. I’m stating a possibility because I’ve noticed that the writer is keen about the “could bes” that benefit the defense team while blatantly ignoring the “could bes” that benefit the prosecution. In my opinion, the writer is writing based on emotions and not on observable phenomena. And it’s a bit disappointing as a reader because I really appreciate unbiased opinions.

      1. @twoface

        I really appreciate unbiased opinions.

        Suuure…perhaps why you have been relatively silent about the prosecution’s eroded credibility. while consistently critical of the other side—Really shows ya’ know.

        1. Felipe

          I haven’t been CONSISTENTLY CRITICAL of the other side. I even agreed to some of the comments made by other readers here. But I guess you haven’t been reading my comments. And I haven’t agreed to any of your blabber so I can’t blame you for that conclusion.

        2. @twoface

          I haven’t been CONSISTENTLY CRITICAL of the other side. I even agreed to some of the comments made by other readers here. But I guess you haven’t been reading my comments. And I haven’t agreed to any of your blabber so I can’t blame you for that conclusion.

          So which posts of yours demonstrate that you have been critical of the prosecution? Even my so-called “blabber” is spot-on.

    4. ang nakatutuwa dito ay sa sobrang gigil ng prosecution dahil sa pressure sa kanila ng mang-mang sa malakanyang, pa subpoena sila ng pa subpoena ng mga ebedensya at testigo eh sa halip na magpapalakas ng kanilang kaso laban ki chief justice ay lalu lang silang nababaon sa kawalan. para silang pumupulot ng mga bato na hindi lamang pamukpok sa kanilang mga tulirong ulo kundi pati na pang gawa ng nitso sa tuluyang pagpanaw ng mga naghihingalong basehan ng kaso ng impeachment laban sa CJ. talagang it’s more fun in the philippines.

      tulad nitong si cong. tupaz, ang tingin ko dito ay marumi ng underwear kasi alanganin t-shirt at pantalon, ay ala eh laging sinasabon ni sen. merriam. 🙂

      1. at pati si senator drillon ay tuliro na rin eh , halatang halata talagang tuta eh, saan ka ba nakita na judge ay nagpapa subpoena ng mga ebidebsya at testigo? hahaha talagang pag emotion ang pinapairal mo ay nagiging bobo na rin tulad ni Pnoy. garapal ka na sir! hindi ka na kagalang-galang. please se, presiding justice enrile, paki-usap maari ba wag mo kabitan ng titulong “gentleman fron ilo-ilo eto?! nabubulol ka tuloy minsan, hurap bigkasin ano?

  3. Itong si Corona ipapakita nya daw ang dollar acct nya sa tamang oras. Sinong nloloko mo,sympre lilinisin mo muna mga ninakaw mo bgo ipakta. Hndi bobo ang taumbayan.

    1. Panu mo lilinisin ang nakaraan na?

      Hindi ba ang usapan 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010?

      Aba e, time traveller na pala ang CJ natin. Ganyan na ba talaga kahina ang isip mo? SALN naman usapan na dati na finile, wala na siya magagawa kung anu ang statement of account nung panahon na iyon.

      Ala, sige kain lang ng MSG Foods, mapundi ang brain cells mo unti unti.

      Anyway, trabaho na ng BSP pag imbistiga sa dokumento na lumabas ukol sa PSB accounts pero since false/illegally acquired, evidence will not be accepted later on anyway (that is my view).


    2. Again vincenzo, you have proven how dumb you really are. You can’t hide the fact that your precious prosecution is already doomed to fail this impeachment trial. Your tito noy will FALL soon very soon.

    3. @Nutzi Vincenzo

      Vincenzo you are probably inhaling polluted passive smoke. As I said before…God is not on the side of Mr. Aquino. You always speak Filipino and do the dance of black propaganda and trial by publicity. Who taught you how to lie about people? Why are you inciting the people? See a genuine priest boy. You badly need spiritual counselling.

    4. Niloloko mo ang sarili mo. Tulad na niloko ng prosekusyon ang senado when it was revealed that the documents are fake. Dahil dito, there will be no way or even Corona will open his bank accounts because it also destroys one’s right to privacy. At ang prosekusyon ay pwedeng makasuhan ng contempt (baka ikaw kasama din). Saan ka pa?

      Di magtatagal ay matatapos ang impeachment na ito because it’s nonsense. You will never listen because you’re a monster who wants to destroy this country. And Miriam was right: you wanted a government by media..

    5. Hey give the dude a break. He is our Exhibit A of how a Penoy’s ass licker mind works.

      He might go away and we won’t have anymore specimen except these twoface and JCC dudes commenters.

      Get easy with them.

    6. Eto ang sabi ng isang kaibigan:

      Gusto ipalabas ng PeNOY ang dollar account ni CJ, batas ng ina niya ang may protection sa nasabing account, kung gusto niya ipagpaaalam niya sa nanay niya!

  4. The bow well movement 188 is both pathetic and entertaining. A bunch of them are with the prosecution panel. Their laugh and cry comedy style continues to provide comic relief for all of us. It seems that fabrication(aside from lying) is now fashionable. Congressmen Umali and Tupas are still looking for the small lady. Perhaps the lady is also a fabrication. This being so and unless the link suddenly appears… Who will take the blame? Circumstances and deduction points to Umali and Tupas. Off with their heads! Figuratively speaking of course.

    1. I really hope they do. It’s been nothing but a waste of…everything.

      This scenario is eerily familiar. Request to open something to find evidence on the defendant denied. Is a walkout of the senate or prosecution next? Then after that, ugh. This is not happening.

      We need to turn the tables and impeach THAT GUY.

      1. @FallenAngel

        It would be very difficult to impeach the dictator Aquino. He already controls the lower house. We know about the dangled pork barrel and additional consideration. It appears that he is now trying to isolate the Supreme Court by buying souls in the Senate. Should the Senate capitulate and sell out then the Supreme Court will stand alone… at the mercy of yellows + reds people mob power. The question is will the Supreme Court fold? The silent majority can and will make a difference in stopping the wannabe absolute dictator. Mr. Aquino controls the dark side. He will never be able to gather absolute loyalty in his evil quest for absolute dictatorship. The Sovereign Filipino People has a choice… to be slaves or to remain free! Mabuhay ang Kalayaan!

        1. or could it be that majority in the lower house is just giving “these guy” more rope to hang himself…in an optimistic note, these are all politicians, political war dogs who can easily change hides in an instant. duh..just w’ndring.

          on another note though, isn’t it better for cj to stay and be acquitted? at least we can be sure that the heads of the two branches are not in cahoots with each other which may very well provide the ultimate checks and balance in gov’t.

  5. My humble theory on the illegally procured document is, it really came from an insider of both PSB and BPI banks. There are two information that were needed. First the bank, and the bank account. There is no possible way to know the account not to mention hundreds if not thousands of other possible banks that Corona might have an account unless there is an inside job. The 2nd scenario is if banks are required by central bank to have a copy on all accounts, then an insider of BSP is the culprit. Lastly, hackers can be blame if signatures have soft copy in the bank’s computer system. The photo copy is not the same as the original for the sole purpose of covering their (bank”s) moves. However noting 10 accurate bank accounts number were presented on those said documents, there is no way that can be known if one does not have a privy to the accounts. Imagine the bank account consist of 15 numbers. Now how many possible combinations would that be? Is it not 16 ^ 16?

  6. It’s not surprising, that these Senators were approached by people of Noynoy Aquino, and the Cojuangcos. Kris Aquino , herself, made a plea on her ABS-CBN show, on Sen. Defensor-Santiago, to vote for the impeachment of Corona. So also, the 100 million pesos deal offer is a possibility. Noynoy Aquino has a: 112 Billion Pesos Pork Barrel Fund. This Fund is unaudited.
    Umali , may had seen a Ghost (White Lady); that he described as a “small lady”. However, I had never heard a Ghost handing documents to people. What I know is: Ghosts appear briefly, then, they disappear. So, I believe…the “small lady” was an ExtraTerrestrial, handing Fake documents on Umali. To sow trouble in the Philippines, before, they can invade it…this is a “scene” of the “War of the Worlds”, in the Court Show impeachment of Corona..

  7. Quite unrelated topic:

    Comments of some senators who were cited for bias by the defense (on 24 oras interview).

    Drilon: “Well, that is their perception. Wala namang basehan. Sinabi rin nila yan noon sa kanilang Motion to Inhibit Sen. Drilon na hindi naman pinansin. Ngayon sinsabi nila itong dahilan para pigilin ang trial. Ay yan talaga kapag pinigil mo ang trial na ito ay talagang nagtagumpay sila para maitago ang katotohanan.”

    BINGO!!!!! As the saying goes, ang isda ay sa bibig nahuhuli! How can he say the defense is trying to hide the truth if he does not have any prejudice against their camp. Spell B-I-A-S!!!!

    Secondly, hindi raw pinansin ang Motion to Inhibit. E sino ba ang makapal ang mukha na hindi pansinin ang motion na ito? The motion was not acted upon by the Senate Impeachment Court because such was addressed to the concerned senator. ONLY HE CAN decide on it. So if hindi pinansin ang Motion, it was not because the Court as whole did not find it sensible. But because one senator was so pig-skinned (pardon my French) to ignore it.

    Thirdly, hindi pinipigilan ng Defense ang pagpapatuloy ng trial. Saan nya nakuha ang ideya na ito? Drilon is not indespensible and much less super important that once he inhibits the Court could not function anymore. Remember, the Defense is still awaiting for their turn to present their evidences.

    Osmena: “Alam ko naman ang strategy nila e. They are laying the groundwork for a mistrial or Certiorari with the Supreme Court.”

    My, you just shot yourself on the foot. Perhaps this senator is not aware that he has the right to remain silent. Somebody please remind him of his right against self-incrimination.

    Sen. Guingona, up to now, I really cannot imagine how in the world this man was ever elected. I mean, mincing his words, para akong kumakain ng ampao.

    Seriously, are these the quality of supposedly well-educated senators we have in this country? Aba’y parang mas magaling pa si Sen. Lapid at Sen. Revilla.

    I really wonder, what high crime the Philippines did in her past life that made her deserve these bunch of id**ts for senators. Parang awa nyo na….

    1. Sen. Guingona’s speech was really cringe worthy. It’s so obvious that he doesn’t need to wait for the defense’s presentation. He’s ready with his ruling of “guilty”.

  8. isa lang ang masasabi ko nakakatakot manatili pa si Corona sa Supreme Court. Baka ibenta niya lahat ang mga kaso sa pamamagitan lang ng isang sulat.

    Tama na ang constitutional right niya ang mahalaga ay ang constitutional at moral right ng mga Pilipino na magkaroon ng matitinong pinuno at opisyal para naman makausad sa pagkakalugmok ang bansa. kaya tayo hindi umaasenso at naiiwan ng mga ibang bansa dahil sa mga taong ganito na nagkakanlong sa demokrasya, demokrasya para magnakaw at demokrasya para magpayaman, demokrasya para ibenta ang Pilipinas.

    1. @Semy Quijano

      Wait lang.. Sa ngayon ang alam ko lang na nagpapakita na wala siyang paninindigan sa kanyang sinabi (“tuwid na daan”) ay ang presidente pa lang. Ikalawa, hindi lang naman CJ ang may final say sa SC kundi ang mayorya ng mga justices ay boboto dito.

      Hindi ko alam kung san mo nadampot yang pagrarason mo pero malamang sa hindi ay nabuo mo itong pag-iisip dahil sa mass media.

      Kung may obvious bias na mapupuna sa kanya pag siya ay nakilahok sa voting, makikita mo naman sa desisyon kung siya ay naginhibit o hindi. Isinusulat naman ito sa desisyon ng SC so pwede mo ito mareview.

      Papano naman yung mga desisyon ni PNOy ukol sa KKK? May narinig ba tayo na rason maliban sa “hindi ko siya maaalis dahil katiwala ko siya” kahit na may ginawa itong kamalian na grabe? Wala kang magawa diba?

      Please lang, hindi naman ata binebenta ang Pilipinas kung mapatunayan na walang sala si CJ. Okay?


      1. @semy quijano

        you hear and watch the impeachment trial on TV but you did not listen to the arguments specially what were mentioned by atty. cuevas..kung yong sulat ni atty, mendoza kay CJ and tinutukoy mo na binago ang desisyon pabor sa philippine airlines? wala pong ganun.

        wag kang masyado maniniwala sa TV lalu na sa ABS-CBN dahil tumatanaw eto ng utang na loob kay Cory sa pagkakabalik sa kanila matapos ang edsa-I, ang estasyon na eto ay pag aari na dapat ng mamayang pilipino dahil na bankrupt na eto noon sa laki ng pagkakautang sa pagkalugi kung kaya inilagay na eto ni pangulong marcos sa pag aari ng estado ng pilipinas.wag ka ng magpapaniwala sa estasyon na eto dahil eto ang mga kakutsaba ng mga survey na mataas kuno ang trust rating ni Pnoy lagi. nakaka-alarma na mga anak natin ay malason sa mga maling impormasyon na ang habitual na pabaya, tamad, mangmang sa karapatang pan-taong batas at mapaghiganting pangulo ay mataas ang approval rating sa mga tao.

      2. kung sakaling nakakalimot ka, majority of the justices in the Supreme court was appointed by Ex-president Arroyo. So, certainly they will get majority vote.

    2. Kapag inapakan ang constitutional right niya, e di para mo na ring sinabi na pwedeng apakan ng ibang tao yung constitutional right mo. There is no such thing as ‘constitutional right ng mga Pilipino’. Only individual rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. Are you a red, dude?

  9. Looking at the names of Senators who voted to defy the TRO one can see the reason why some of them did:

    Franklin Drilon: this is the guy who called for GMA to step down during the height of the Hello Garci scandal, mind you all that he bother to have “due process” to find out the truth about the tapes, one can safely say that he just skipped the “trial” and proceed to the “sentencing” part. Seeing his performance in the trail is not that surprising and the fact that he is showing the King in Yellow that he Franklin Drilon is loyal to his majesty.

    Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV: a case of trading favors, “forget about my mutiny attempt and I’ll give you want you want”.

    Lito Lapid: the man himself has admitted to monetary difficulties so the offer of 100 million is enough to make him sell his soul. He now has a lucrative contract with ABS-CBN which by the is in cahoots with the King in Yellow. Also another trading favors scenario which involves his wife who was caught with $50,000 in violation of US travel regulations, as well some irregularities in his SALN.

    I’m sure about the rest so I can’t even guess about. If any of you guys have some info about it do enlighten me.

    One final thing, I noticed that Panfilo Lacson was not one of the ten. Guess the guy has things to hide as well…..

  10. “You are gathering evidence by requesting a subpoena from this honorable court” – Sen. Enrile

    For we all know, the SC is still under control of the CJ Corona. any action from the prosecution side will be “blocked” automatically by the Supreme Court using the mighty TRO. now what are the other way to obtain evidence? in my opinion, since CJ Corona is the one on trial, it is better and fair if he will file leave of absence while the trial is on-going.

    1. For we all know, the SC is still under control of the CJ Corona

      ^^Pure “haka-haka”. If you use facts instead of mere speculation, it would help you think with more clarify.

      It was PSBank who sought for a TRO from the SC and not Corona. Corona inhibited himself from voting on the matter.

      A temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court has been successfully granted to PSBank to protect them from being forced to surrender information about their client’s foreign currency deposits.

      No need for Corona to file for a leave of absence. Why should he? He wasn’t the one who requested to be impeached.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.