A day after the "smoking gun" revealed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales at the Senate impeachment trial, embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona on Tuesday told his defense team to push through with their defense strategy.
In a chance interview before the start of trial, defense lawyer and spokesperson Jose "Judd" Roy III confirmed that Corona met with his legal team on Tuesday morning to assess the testimony of Morales, which included allegations that Corona kept $12 million in 82 accounts in five banks.
"His instructions are to carry on," Roy told reporters, but refused to give other details about the meeting other than that it was held at a "private place."
Asked if it was held at the Sofitel Hotel, as earlier circulated in the media, Roy answered in the negative.
"No, no. We were not there. I'm sure you were all there [but we weren't]," Roy said.
Asked what Corona's mood was during the meeting, Roy said the chief magistrate was in "very high spirit."
In a report of the news site New York Times on Monday, Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in Manila, said the Ombudsman's disclosure was the "smoking gun” of the trial.
“For all practical purposes, the trial is over. Even if the chief justice testifies, it is unlikely he will be able to explain this,” Casiple said.
The Oxford Dictionary defines "smoking gun" as piece of incontrovertible incriminating evidence.
University of the Philippine law professor Harry Roque earlier posted a message on his Facebook account, announcing a supposed defense press conference at 11:00 a.m.
"CJ Corona to have press conference at 11AM. If there's any decency left in him, it is to announce his resignation. Maybe, the Filipino people can forgive him then," Roque said.
GMA News Online checked with defense lawyers and they all denied Roque's information.
Separately asked by GMA News Online for the source of his information, Roque only said he got it through text. When told the defense had denied the information, Roque said: "Baka na-cancel."
Another defense lawyer and spoksperson, Tranquil Salvador III, also confirmed that it was a meeting and not a press conference that took place Tuesday morning.
"Nakapag meeting kanina... kaya siguro akala mayroong Sofitel, pero wala sa Sofitel," he said in a chance interview at the Senate.
During the said defense meeting, Roy said they assured Corona not to worry about the possible impact to the public of Morales' testimony.
"We explained to him our assessment of the information from the Ombudsman," Roy said.
"We told him that we should not be overwhelmed by the impact to the public because in fact he [Corona] is correct in his statement that what the Ombudsman presented was not credible. It is in fact incredible so his," he added.
Roy was referring to Corona's statement issued to media on Monday evening, dismissing Morales' testimony as containing "figures of hoax... and had a diagram which was a lantern of lies." - VVP, GMA News