MANILA, Philippines – The Coronas had a great deal of cash from 2005 to 2009 to be able to buy 2 posh condominium units in cash and short installments, and it is now up to the defense panel to show that the money was sourced through legal means.
But already, documents presented so far to the Senate impeachment court, as well as previous public statements by his defense counsels, cast doubts on the integrity of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
We base this conclusion on the following:
1.) The Coronas paid for the P14.5-M Bellagio property in Taguig in 2009. The payment was completed only in 3 installments from 2008 to 2009, based on records that a Megaworld official attested to in Monday’s impeachment trial.
Submitted to the impeachment court on Monday, January 30, 2012, were 3 official receipts from the Coronas for the purchase of the 113-sq-m condominium unit in Bellagio.
2.) The Coronas paid for the P9.1-M Bonifacio Ridge property in Taguig within a month’s time – in April 2004. The payment was made in an “almost cash basis,” according to a prosecution witness from the Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. This is broken down into: P2.2-M check issued by the Chief Justice and a P6.9-M check issued by Cristina Corona.
Yet, in his 2010 SALN, Corona said in a “note” that he sold 2 properties in Quezon City – one in La Vista and another in Ayala Heights – in 2010 to purchase or pay for the loan that was used to buy their units in Bellagio and Bonifacio Ridge.
The certificate transfer of title for the Ayala Heights property shows that it was sold in April 2010 for P8-M. Corona did not even indicate the exact selling price in his 2010 SALN.
The Coronas also sold their La Vista lot to their daughter Carla Corona-Castillo in November 2010 for P18-M.
3.) Apart from the P11 million loan from his wife’s family corporation which he declared in 2003, Corona declared no other liabilities in his SALNs from 2003 to 2009.
Corona’s disclosures from 2003 to 2009 also show that, on top of the property acquisitions, this liability has been gradually decreasing, indicating that–on top of the property purchases–Corona has also been making payments to the loan during those years.
In his 2010 SALN, Corona declared zero liabilities.
Based on these, we raise 2 questions:
1.) How can Corona use the proceeds from the 2010 sale of 2 properties to buy condominium units that were already fully paid by 2004, in the case of Bonifacio Ridge, and 2009, in the case of the Bellagio property?
2.) If, as indicated in his SALN 2010, he paid for the condominium units partly through loan, the documents submitted to the impeachment court show otherwise. No loan transactions were attested to either by Megaworld (for Bellagio) or the Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. (for Bonifacio Ridge).
In the first days of the impeachment trial, lead defense counsel Serafin Cuavas was quoted by the media as saying that the Coronas paid for their 2 condominium units in “staggered terms.”
The payment of the 2 properties in Taguig indicate that the Coronas were very liquid, but this cash liquidity could neither be established in his SALNs or his income records that were presented to the impeachment court last week by Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares.
The most that Corona received as a Chief Justice is slightly more than P600,000 annually. But his net worth by 2010–according to his own SALN–was already at P22.93-M, the bulk of which comes from real estate properties.
Also, the Chief Justice never declared his purchase of McKinley Hill in 2008, which is under the name of his youngest daughter Charina, a physical therapist based in the US.
Private prosecutor Joseph Perez told the court on Monday that the Buyer’s Information Sheet in the hands of Megaworld Corp, which built and developed McKinley Hill, showed that the Chief Justice was the declared buyer of the 203-sq-m lot in Taguig. The reservation for the property, as well as offer to purchase, was made by Cristina Corona, wife of the Chief Justice, on May 9, 2006.
All the 27 official receipts for the purchase of the lot were in the name of the Chief Justice, based on Megaworld records.
It was only after these payments were made when, in September 2008, Corona requested Megaworld to state that the deed of absolute sale be in the name of Ma. Charina Corona.
Per BIR records submitted last week, Charina Corona registered as a one-time Philippine taxpayer in 2008 only for the sole purpose of buying the McKinley lot.
One question remains unanswered: was the special power of attorney that Charina granted her father an afterthought to conceal the real ownership of the property?
The defense panel said they could prove that it was indeed Charina’s money that paid for the lot, but that she coursed this through her parents since she was living abroad. – Rappler.com