There's been some renewed interest in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona with the "bombshell" testimony of Ombudsman Carpio-Morales. She presented the report to her of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Corona's alleged dollar deposits amounting to $10 million.
And with her appearance according to prosecution sympathizers, lead defense counsel Justice Cuevas finally found his match. Cuevas has been making mincemeat of the prosecutors since the start of trial. But that is not so much because of his legal acumen and being a former Supreme Court justice. Rather, prosecutors came for trial ill-prepared.
For sure, when you have former justices of the Supreme Court arguing factual and legal points, you would have lively and even heated exchanges. That's the essence and beauty of intelligent debate--our guarantee in the courts of justice for ferreting out the real truth from mere allegation and speculation for objective judgment of cases freed from the passions of the day.
TV "legal experts" have even been quick to comment that putting the Ombudsman on the witness stand was a monumental blunder for the defense. The damning "evidence" of dollar deposits finally was proof enough to show the inaccuracy of Corona's SALNs.
But, emotions and politics aside, at the bottom of all the "shock and awe" of the reported dollar deposits of Corona is the fact that the testimony of the Ombudsman is simply just that: a report of a report of a report. Banks to AMLC, then AMLC to Ombudsman, then Ombudsman to impeachment court. Hearsay.
Verily, on redirect questioning, the Ombudsman herself affirmed that she or her office had not actually verified the AMLC figures presented to her. In fact, she even explained that she is "incompetent" to attest to the truthfulness of the alleged bank accounts since all she was given was the AMLC report and she had not and cannot go to the banks named to check on the records of each of the alleged accounts.
And the complaint proceeding with the Ombudsman for which the AMLC report was given is only in the investigation or fact-finding stage. Hence, the report's reliability is anything but certain and very much still in question. It is pending preliminary determination by her office.
Again betraying the prosecution's demonization scheme of trial by publicity, private prosecutor on deck even asked on cross-examination for the Ombudsman's opinion on the reported comment by Corona that the AMLC report is a "lantern of lies". While the Ombudsman was not prevented to give her answer, her testimony has no probative value on that score. The Ombudsman was not testifying as an expert, but as a witness on the alleged dollar deposits. It's basic that an ordinary witness, as the Ombudsman was so presented, can only testify as to what she personally knows, that is, what she has seen, heard, felt, tasted, or touched.
In fine, the bombshell was a but a dud.