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Key Philippines impeachment testimony may be thrown out
MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- The Philippines Senate is deciding whether to throw out important evidence that could be used to impeach embattled President Joseph Estrada.
Estrada is on trial for alleged bribery, graft, corruption, betrayal of public trust and violating the Constitution. The trial began December 7, and a decision is expected by February 12. Estrada denies any wrongdoing.
The testimony in question was given on December 22 and January 4 by Clarissa Ocampo, a senior vice president of the nation's third-largest bank.
Ocampo said she saw Estrada sign a false name to secretly open at least one bank account that contained 500 million pesos ($10 million). Defense lawyers said the testimony was not relevant to the articles of impeachment against the president because prosecutors must prove that money in the account was obtained illegally.
Philippine prosecutors Monday asked the impeachment court to subpoena records from seven banks where they say Estrada and three mistresses keep accounts.
The prosecution made the demand in several motions. Estrada's attorneys opposed the move, saying the documents were irrelevant, according to court documents shown by prosecutors to reporters Monday.
The prosecution requested subpoenas on Allied Banking Corp., Bank of Commerce, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp., Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co., Philippine National Bank, United Overseas Bank and Equitable-PCI Bank, where Ocampo was employed.
Ex-stock official testifies
In other impeachment activity Monday, a former official testified that Estrada offered to bankroll his election campaign if he quit as head of a stock-regulating body that was investigating a friend of the president.
Former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) head Perfecto Yasay, under cross-examination by defense lawyers said he rejected the offer.
Yasay had previously testified that Estrada tried to pressure him and stock exchange investigators into clearing businessman Dante Tan, a friend of Estrada, of alleged price-fixing in the dramatic rise and fall of the shares of gaming firm BW Resource Corp in 1999.
Yasay, returning to the stand on Monday, said Estrada offered to help him win an election as a member of Congress if he resigned as SEC chief.
He told the court Estrada made the offer through then presidential Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora.
"According to Executive Secretary Zamora, the president had already approved a plan for me to run for congressman ... and they will make sure that no other candidate will be running against me and they will finance all my expenses in connection with that campaign," Yasay told the court.
Yasay said Zamora told him that after the election, scheduled for next May, "I was going to be given a chairmanship of a major committee in the House of Representatives. I refused that offer."
Estrada has denied Yasay's accusation.
A two-thirds vote by the 22-member Senate is required to convict and remove Estrada from office.
The impeachment trial was triggered by accusations by a provincial governor that Estrada received 400 million pesos ($8 million) in bribes from illegal gambling syndicates.
Bombing attempt fails
Hours before the resumption of the trial, now in its 22nd day, police foiled an apparent attempt to bomb a Manila elevated train by defusing a bomb planted near a station.
Police found the bomb at a hamburger stall near the Light Rail Transit station and detonated it. No one was injured.
Police have been on heightened alert since December 30 when a spate of bomb explosions around the capital killed 22 people and wounded more than 100.
CNN Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa and Reuters contributed to this report.
Philippine ex-finance minister testifies against Estrada
President Joseph "Erap" Ejercito Estrada
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