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MANILA, Philippines – Dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona finally faced prosecutors Thursday, October 25, in a preliminary hearing of a tax evasion case filed against him and members of his immediate family.
Corona and wife Cristina arrived at the Department of Justice (DOJ) at about 10:20 am Thursday. They went straight to the department’s executive lounge.
This is the first investigation on Corona following his dismissal as chief justice last May. The Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, found him guilty of charges of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.
Corona submitted his counter-affidavit, which he asked the government panel to make public.
The panel earlier granted Corona’s 3 previous requests to have more time to prepare his counter-affidavit.
The panel also moved the hearing to Nov. 16, based on the request of Corona’s lawyer Anacleto Diaz, who also happens to be the counsel of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Corona’s daughter Carla and son-in-law Constantino were ordered to appear in the next hearing and respond to a counter-reply of the Bureau of Internal Revenue to their earlier counter-affidavits.
Talking to reporters, Corona said: “Mensahe ng impeachment, sumunod sa Malacañang kung ayaw ninyong mangyari sa inyo ang nangyari sa punong mahistrado.” (The lesson from my impeachment is that you have to obey Malacañang if you don’t want to suffer like me.)
The DOJ had warned them that if they did not appear in today’ hearing, a panel of investigators will proceed with submitting its own findings on the case for final resolution.
Corona, his daughter Carla and son-in-law Constantino were charged with tax evasion by the BIR on August 30. Corona allegedly had a deficiency income tax liability of P120 million, while that of Carla amounted to P9 million. Constantino Castillo, meanwhile, had a declared income of P1.93 million from 2005-2009, but he bought a property for P10.5 million in 2003 even with no reported income then, according to the BIR.
The filing of the charges came 3 months after Corona was removed from his post by the impeachment court for failing to declare P183 million in peso and dollar bank deposits in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN). – Rappler.com