DOJ grants Corona's extension plea for 'last time'
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, October 12, gave dismissed chief justice Renato Corona additional time to submit his counteraffidavit on the tax evasion case filed against him. This is the third -- and the 'last' time -- according to senior state prosecutor Rosanne Balauag, that the DOJ will grant Corona's motion for an extension.
The DOJ prosecution panel composed of Balauag and prosecution lawyers Mark Roland Estepa and Jayvee Bandong, however, gave Corona only until October 25, or 10 more days, to submit his counter-affidavit. Corona had requested to submit it on November 5.
Corona wrote Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and asked for the extension last week. Bureau of Internal Revenue lawyer Tina Padilla said, however, that the letter -- which they received on October 12 -- is a "mere scrap of paper."
This is the third time that Corona has sought an extension. The DOJ had previously granted his request and moved the submission of his counter-affidavit to October 15 from October 5. Prior to that, he was granted an extension from September 25 to October 5.
Christian Anacleto, Corona's lawyer, said they need more time to go through the documents.
The BIR filed a P150-million worth of tax evasion case against Corona, his daughter Carla Castillo, and son-in-law Constantino Castillo III in August. Corona allegedly had a deficiency income tax liability of P120 million, while Carla's deficiency amounted to P9 million. Constantino Castillo, meanwhile, had a declared income of P1.93 million from 2005-2009, but he bought property for P10.5 million in 2003 even with no reported income then, according to the BIR.
'Deprived of due process'
Carla and Constantino showed up at the hearing and filed their respective counteraffidavits.
In the said counteraffidavit, Carla said she was deprived of due process because the BIR did not allow her to participate in its preliminary investigation in August and even asked if a probe was indeed conducted.
"The fact that the joint complaint-affidavit does not and cannot refer to any docket number of the required preliminary investigation inescapably shows that no such investigation was conducted at all," she wrote.
She added that there was something amiss in the process because the complainants -- Socrates Regala, Josephine Duran and Cristina Kahulugan -- "affixed their signatures in the joint-complaint affidavit" on August 30, but the referral letter of BIR commissioner Kim Henares to De Lima was dated a day before, on August 29.
The referral letter is an endorsement to have the complaint subjected to preliminary investigation.
"All these circumstances, it is respectfully submitted, plainly show that the present criminal action is being used by the BIR as a tool of harassment and oppression against me," she added.
Carla said the BIR also erred in saying that she bought a 1,200 square-meter lot in La Vista using only her income in 2010. She said that she did have income in 2010 because the food business she ventured into had ceased to operate as early as 2009.
Carla bought the La Vista property from her parents who purchased it in 2003 for P16 million.
She said the BIR also made it appear that she had no income prior to 2008 when a "cursory inquiry" would have shown that she earned $265,000 as a physical therapist in the United States from 1996-2002. This enabled her to purchase the La Vista property.
"I could have easily explained the difference between my reported income and my expenditure by the fact that I had substantial savings abroad and I set aside the cash gifts that I received in the United States during special occasions."
Constantino, on the other hand, raised the same defense that he was not made to participate in a preliminary investigation. He said he could have shown that he bought a P10-million property in Quezon City in 2003 and another P15-million property in Kalayaan in 2009 using borrowed funds and not his income alone. - Rappler.com