LEAD DEFENSE COUNSEL Serafin Cuevas tangled with his own witness in the person of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, grilling her in an effort to impeach her and weaken her credibility.
On the second day of her testimony before the senate impeachment court, Morales had revealed more details on the contents and movements of some 82 dollar bank accounts that her office says belong to Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Cuevas asked Morales if she or her office had ever verified the information provided her office by the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC). Morales had told the court that the initial findings of her fact finding investigation were primarily based on documents provided by the AMLC.
Morales told Cuevas that her office has not been able to do its own verification, as this would mean having to approach each of the banks concerned. Foreign deposits are protected by the Foreign Currency Deposits Act, which puts an absolute veil of secrecy over these accounts.
To this, Cuevas said that Morales appeared to have swallowed the AMLC data without any kind of verification.
“You give us the impression that you swallowed hook line and sinker the entire contents submitted to you in response to your letter request (by AMLC),” Cuevas said.
“The presumption is that they would give me correct information.” Morales replied.
At one point, Cuevas also asked what authority Morales had to investigate the Chief Justice. Cuevas cited a previous Supreme Court ruling that he said states that any investigation of alleged misconduct must have a “direct relation and connected with the performance of official duties.” Cuevas said that this means the Ombudsman cannot just investigate “any malfeasance” but one that is “in connection with performance of official duty.”
To this, Morales said her power to investigate “encompasses anything that violates the law.”
Morales said the charge against Corona is for “accumulating wealth grossly disproportional to income.”