'Corona charges prove justice over ill-gotten wealth possible'
MANILA, Philippines – It's a testament to how serious government is about nailing those who acquire their wealth illegally. No matter who they are, they can face charges.
This is what Malacañang said of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, who, along with his wife Cristina, is poised to face criminal and civil charges over their alleged ill-gotten wealth amounting to P130 million.
The statement comes a day after the Office of the Ombudsman said it would file the charges before the Sandiganbayan.
On Thursday, January 30, Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said the charges showed that "evidence-based" justice was possible.
"[The charges] are the result of a legal process, and if we said before that the conviction of the Chief Justice through an impeachment trial proves the viability of our democratic process, perhaps this is also one of the things our people want to see: that it's possible after all to find justice in cases of ill-gotten wealth," he said.
"What's important is that this shows that the charges are evidence-based, it was not a product of a press release or a trial by publicity. It went through a process of collecting concrete evidence that eventually led to a complaint."
Coloma also said the Filipino people should welcome the charges and "be happy about the progress in finding justice."
He also scoffed at Corona's comment that the charges are part of the Aquino government's "merciless persecution" against him and his family.
"The harassment continues without let-up. Malacañang and its attack dogs were not content with removing me from office. They have been filing all sorts of baseless and contrived cases against me and members of my family," Corona said.
Coloma questioned Corona's claims of persecution when "the basis was documentary evidence," gathered by an "independent constitutional body that is the Ombudsman."
"We trust that this action was taken by the Ombudsman on the basis of objective gathering of information and the case was filed based on concrete evidence. It's the independence of the office and integrity of the Ombudsman herself that is on the line here. That is why we join our people in hoping that this is a process that will have a beneficial outcome," he said.
It was in December 2011 when allies of President Benigno Aquino III in the House of Representatives impeached Corona. The following year, the Senate convened as an impeachment court and presided over a highly-charged trial that lasted nearly 4 months.
On May 29, 2012, a total of 20 out of 23 senators declared Corona guilty of betraying the public trust and committing culpable violation of the Constitution for failing to accurately declare his assets in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. – Rappler.com