ABS-CBN News - Witness Keh faces contempt over papers

16 May 2012

By David Dizon | ABS-CBNnews.com

abscbn_thumbMANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – Kaya Natin! lead convenor Harvey Keh is facing possible contempt charges for submitting documents to the office of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile documents on Chief Justice Renato Corona alleged $2 million dollar accounts.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he felt insulted after Keh submitted the documents, allegedly from an anonymous source, to his office while being covered by a news crew of ABS-CBN.

“I am ordering you to show cause why you should not be cited for contempt by this impeachment court. You are trying to influence this court by bringing these documents. I did not open it. I did not read it because it is a very…I do not know what these documents had,” he told Keh.

Enrile said he found no reason why Keh would bring the documents to his office instead of submitting it to the Ombudsman where he had already filed a complaint against Corona.

He said the presence of the TV crew seemed to be an attempt to ensure that the contents of the documents would be publicized.

“I felt insulted and offended as a presiding officer and I am ordering you to show cause why you should not be cited in contempt,” he said.

Keh apologized for his actions and said he did not mean to offend the Senate President. “I would like to express my sincere apologies if you felt insulted,” he said.

Asked why he did not bring the documents to the Ombudsman, he said: “I thought the Senate would be the office would be in a best position to evaluate this document.”

He also denied bringing a TV crew with him, saying that an ABS-CBN news team was already waiting for him at the Senate.

Keh earlier told ABS-CBN News he received anonymous information that Corona owned $2 million in foreign currency accounts in several banks.

Who is Mr. Anonymous?

Meanwhile, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago scolded Keh for acting on anonymous tips while not bothering to verify them first.

“You are not even a witness and you are foisting yourself as a complainant before the public. What kind of good governance are you trying to promote? You are acting on anonymous sources. Every time there is something that requires identification of the source, the prosecution says there is no source. It came anonymous. Anonymously. Who is Mr. Anonymous? Because I want to ask the PNP and the AFP to issue an arrest order against him. Why is there a proliferation of Mr. Anonymous in this archipelago?’

“And you are the head of something that promotes good governance? That’s your idea of good governance? You act on anonymous complaints. You do not even bother to examine for yourself with your own brains whether these complaints are fair or not?”

Santiago questioned Keh’s assertion that Kaya Natin has over 1,000 members all over the country.

“You are trying to mislead the Filipino public with your prestige and your influence only on the basis of numericality, only on the basis of numbers. What is your proof that you have these many members? I will have my staff check if you have 1,000 members because a person governed by ethics would not do the things that you have done, giving those alleged documentary evidence to the Senate President when you should know as a layman that no person is allowed to influence a judge in the course of the proceedings,” she said.

'Small lady' recalled

Sen. Bongbong Marcos noted that there are now several ways in which seemingly anonymous documents end up in the hands of the prosecution.

He recalled the “small lady” who allegedly gave documents to Oriental Mindoro 2nd Rep. Reynaldo Umali and the unknown source who gave the same documents to Quezon City 3rd District Rep. Jorge "Bolet" Banal.

Keh said the documents were left in the mail slot in the Kaya Natin! Office in Barangay Loyola Heights in Quezon City last May 3. He said the documents were placed in a brown envelope and was addressed to him.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, meanwhile, asserted that Keh was lying when he said that he was not seeking publicity when he got the papers on Corona’s alleged bank accounts. “Sinungaling ka,” he said.

Keh had admitted that he texted a tabloid reporter and told a broadsheet reporter about the documents. He denied, however, fabricating the document to discredit Corona.

Hontiveros: I didn’t know about $10M

Another hostile witness, former Akbayan congresswoman Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, also testified on Day 39 of the impeachment trial.

In her testimony, the former congresswoman said she and several others signed a complaint asking the Ombudsman to investigate 18 bank accounts allegedly owned by Corona, including one account which allegedly contained $700,00.

“Our purpose in writing her is to ask the Ombudsman to investigate the dollar accounts,” she said.

She said she filed the complaint after the Supreme Court temporarily stopped Philippine Savings Bank from revealing the contents of Corona’s dollar accounts in the impeachment trial.

She denied that the complaint alleged that Corona owns $10 million in dollar deposits.

She also said no one ordered her group to file a complaint against the Chief Justice before the Ombudsman.

Sen. Santiago did not pose any question to the former congresswoman. Instead, she praised Baraquel for being “one of the staunchest allies of Sen. Pia Cayetano and myself in our epic struggle to pass the Reproductive Health Bill.”

She also noted Baraquel very nearly became senator in the 2010 elections, and “there is still a very strong possibility that she may soon join the Senate in the very near future.”

Baraquel came in 13th place, losing the last Senate slot to his coalition ally, Teofisto 'TG' Guingona III.