Testimonies and human experience


 

  

Yes, Demetrio Vicente, the first substantive witness for Chief Justice Renato Corona, appeared to be credible. He answered questions candidly and his demeanor suggested he was telling the truth. The problem though is his actuations notwithstanding, his testimony runs contrary to both logic and human experience.

Defense lawyers presented the testimony of Vicente to prove that at least one property, real estate in Marikina which until today is registered in the name of the chief justice and/or his wife – was not declared in the Corona’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and Liability because it no longer belonged to the chief magistrate. He testified that he purchased the property from the wife of the chief justice way back in 1990. He claims too that he has lived in his property as in fact, no less than Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales can allegedly attest to this. He then explained that he has not transferred the property to his name because he did not have the money to pay for transfer taxes.


Huh? Vicente can afford to pay for the property, which cost more than a million pesos, and yet, he cannot afford to pay transfer fees in the amount of P2,500? Come on!


Add to this the fact that while he claims to have consistently paid for the real estate taxes on the property, records indicate that all such payments were still in the name of Mrs. Corona. Likewise, Vicente took no steps to annotate the sale in the title of the property itself. This, and not the Deed of Sale allegedly executed by Mrs. Corona, is the best guarantee against a double sale pursuant to the rule that buyers of real estate need not go beyond what appears on the title of the property.


Worse, and I commend Senator Ralph Recto for his insight in this regard, is the fact that while the Coronas allegedly sold the property in 1990, it was still declared in Corona’s SALN in 1992! Under the rule on estoppel, Corona cannot wiggle his way out of this admission that the alleged 1990 sale notwithstanding, he remained the owner of the property.


In any case, the law on SALN requires all officials to declare all property in their names, including all those held in trust by them for others. Chief Justice Corona should know this.


***


It’s a case of answered prayers. I’m referring to the filing of murder charges against former Governor Joel Reyes for the murder of Palawan broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega.


Department of Justice prosecutors originally dismissed charges against the former governor for alleged lack of evidence. The first panel that investigated Reyes insisted that the testimony of Rodolfo Edrad, Jr. that it was the ex-governor who paid him to plot the killing of Ortega required corroboration.


This time around, the second panel of prosecutors, considering additional evidence submitted, such as text messages between Edrad and Reyes, as well as recorded broadcasts of Doc Gerry accusing Reyes of malversation of the Malampaya funds, determined the existence of probable cause. According to the second panel, the text messages between Reyes and Edrad belie the claim of Reyes that he did not know the latter. Furthermore, the panel ruled that the radio tirades of Doc Gerry against Reyes were sufficient motive for the broadcaster’s murder.


This second ruling would not have come about had it not been for Secretary Leila de Lima’s decision to re-open the preliminary investigation of the case. This she ordered despite her repeated insistence to recuse herself from the case because she acted in the past as election lawyer of Joel Reyes.


I could imagine that the decision to re-open the case was particularly difficult for the Justice Secretary because of her close ties with the respondent. But to her credit, the re-opening of the case led to the introduction of new evidence that proved sufficient to file the charge of murder against Reyes. Indeed, Secretary De Lima is the personification of political will in the fight against impunity.


Kudos too to the late NBI agent Atty. Rosauro “Ross” Bautista. Ross passed away last January. It was he who directed the investigation of the Ortega murder. During the investigation, I was in constant communication with him almost on an hourly basis. I was a witness to his integrity and competence which in my mind, should be the standard observed by all investigators of cases involving extralegal killings. Without the proven dedication of Ross, I doubt if this second decision of the DOJ prosecutors would have been possible.


The next challenge is to convict the suspects at the soonest time possible.


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6 comments on “Testimonies and human experience

  1. Eileen Arboleda-Orbeta says:

    … how can you say Demetrio Vicente “appeared to be credible” when his testimony left us with more doubts and confusion… and yes, you’re right… if the property has not been transferred to his name fore more than 2 decades definitely, something is really wrong.

    … i feel relieved and happy to know that Doc Gerry’s case got re-opened… justice after all is not dead.

  2. RICKY P. says:

    Yes sir. Truly Vicente is a credible witness, the fact however that Corona in 1992 declared the same as his property, which was only two years away from the sale in 1990 reveals more than meets the eye. Why would he declare a property he knowingly sold to a second cousin. It could not have been a mistake. It was during this time that SALN is being used or implemented by the Civil Service Commission and the OMbudsman. Correct likewise is the fact of human experience is a basis in determining matters of fact ot at least the reason behind unexplainable incidence including one contrary to logic,

    The first dismissal by DOJ of the complaint against Gov Reyes is in itself erroneous if not deliberate assertion of any jurisprudential basis. There was already an eye witness account pointing to Reyes. To my humble mind, it does not require collaboration, unless the witness only made up the story. Then NBI should use its sleuthing experience on whether witness has connection with reyes in any capacity. In one case though, the american supreme COurt upheld the right to priavacy of a respondent over his text messages in the celphone under the stored communication act of 1989 of the United States. Hence, I feel a text message being a corroborative evidence will not stand in court should the counsel of the witness invoke the rights to priVACY INVOKED HIS RIGHT OVER HIS MESSAGES.

    tHANKS FOR ALWAYS IN THE WATCH OVER CASES OF INJUSTICES IN THE pHILIPPINES. hOPE THE EFFORT TO HELP THE POOR AND THE NEEDY.

    • harryroque says:

      glad we share similar views. thanks for reading my blog!

      • ricky pollo says:

        yap, your views on this matter is supported by jrisprudence and principle in law taught in law schools. Even the defense knows this. hehe, but as they say, lets give Corona his day in court. Whew people are getting impatient. Huli na deny to death pa si Corona. talk about lack of decency. And bet our lives for these people to rule upon at times base on discretion instead of the evidence on record and the law.

  3. Butch M. says:

    I watched the trial when Mr. Vicente took the witness stand. Others and some Senator-judges mentioned in TV interviews that he is a credible witness. In my observations and deep analysis, he is an INCREDIBLE witness. If indeed, he is the real owner of said property, the legal owner’s first instinct after full payment, is to immediaely transfer it to his/her name for self-satisfaction, self-fulfillment, peace of mind, security to descendants in time of death, proper documentations, etc. In this case,two decades had past and still the name/title of Marikina Property is under Mrs. Corona. This is an incredible and solid proof that Mr and Mrs. Corona legally owns the property and Mr. Vicente is merely just a trusted caretaker. According to Mr. Vicente, he sold his house in cold cash at Q.C. worth P 3.5M in early 1990’s and on July 26, 1990 (6-7 mos. after sale), he paid Mrs. Corona P 1,018,00.00 for the 8 lots (including Mirriam Roco’s property) then, he has still enough money to pay the P 2,500.00 transfer tax at that time. Mathematically speaking, 3.5M less 1M; less 6-7 months expenditures (assumption 500,000.00); less money spent for his sickness (assumption 500.000.00). Mr. Vicente is very capable to pay the Php 2,500.00 transfer tax. The reality is, Mr. Vicente, is not the real owner. So, how can he transfer it to his name?

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