MANILA, Philippines – After a blog by journalist Raissa Robles came out on Saturday, March 24 questioning U.S. properties under his name, Chief Justice Renato Corona denied that he owned any properties in America.
A day later, Corona sent a text message to reporters saying one of the properties in question, a house in Placer County, California, is owned by his daughter, Charina.
The modified response to the rumors prompted headlines of Corona’s change of story.
The Chief Justice clarified Thursday, March 29 at a mass at the Supreme Court, that he never changed his story. He said the question on the properties were directed to him and his wife Cristina, hence his response saying “we do not own any property in the US” pertained only to him and Cristina.
He emphasized that the property of his daughter, a physical therapist in the U.S. who he says manages 2 jobs, is, like his own assets, a fruit of “hard and honest work for which all taxes have been fully paid.”
In a message to graduates of the Philippine Law School, Corona told students that he and his wife were able to save money for the past 4 decades, having lived in an inherited property since their wedding in 1970 where they did not have to pay rent.
Defense counsel Rico Quicho also challenged Robles to present a certificate of title to prove Corona owned the property.
In a press conference Thursday, Corona’s spokespersons Quicho and Tranquil Salvador III insisted that Charina is not a dummy of his father, and maintained that it is premature to discuss alleged U.S. properties in the prosecution’s rebuttal since the defense is not yet done presenting their case.
They questioned the prosecution’s insistence on the U.S. properties, saying resorting to it is a sign of weak evidence against Corona.
Salvador also belittled the SWS survey showing 73% want a Corona conviction. He emphasized the survey was conducted when the defense had not yet presented its case.
Despite the impeachment trial against him and the accusations of new US properties however, Corona expressed contentment, sharing that there is nothing else he could ask for given his family.
“I have always believed that the two greatest gifts God can give a man are, one, a happy family, and two, a loving, dedicated wife,” he said. “I already have both, so I don’t need anything more than this.”
He called Cristina “the wind beneath my wings.”
For their part, the Philippine Association of Court Employees reiterated their support for the Chief Justice.
They contend that the impeachment against Corona is a result of President Benigno Aquino III’s “personal hatred,” and swore they would not falter in their backing of Corona.
Meanwhile, the president of the Supreme Court Employees Association, Jose Dante Guerreo, questioned a report of the House Committee on Accounts asking for an additional P1M to fund the operations of the trial.
So far, the cost of the impeachment is said to be over P3.5-M, at least P1.9-M of which has been spent on supplies, and P1.56-M on food.
Guerrero emphasized that the cost, when divided by the 34 trial days, means the prosecution has used more than P46,000 per trial day on food, and P55,880 per trial day on supplies.
“This is taxpayer’s money going down the drain. Instead of giving attention to our people’s basic needs, our lawmakers are wasting time and resources in a sham trial,” said Guerrero. – Rappler.com