Ombudsman orders filing of criminal charges vs Coronas
MANILA, Philippines – Finding no reason to reverse an earlier resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the immediate filing of criminal and civil charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina for allegedly amassing over P130 million in ill-gotten wealth.
In a 15-page joint order she signed on Wednesday, March 26, Morales denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Coronas on a January 2014 resolution, where a special panel of investigators found probable cause to file charges against them with the anti-graft court.
"Finding no cogent reason to reverse the Resolution dated January 14, 2014, Ombudsman Morales directed the immediate filing of a petition for forfeiture with the Sandigabayan, along with the sets of criminal Informations for eight (8) counts of Perjury and eight (8) counts of violation of Republic Act 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees)," the statement said.
An investigation conducted by a special panel of investigators showed that from 2001 to 2011, the Coronas earned a total income of P30,369,120.13.
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Of the amount, Corona earned P27,145,472.68 as an official at the Office of the President, a Supreme Court Justice, a member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).
His wife, Cristina, earned P3,223,647.45 from 2007-2010, based on the Alpha List submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by the John Hay Development Corporation (JHDC) where she was a board member.
"The Resolution stated that from 2002 to 2010, Corona’s actual cash deposits ballooned from P1,337,072.28 to P137,937,207.88, and by 2010 the cumulative discrepancy between his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) declaration and his actual cash deposits amounted to P134,437,207.88," the statement said.
The resolution also cited Land Registration Authority (LRA) records on several properties owned by the Coronas in Quezon City, Makati City, and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, "which were established to be significantly undervalued by P17,297,145.00."
The Office of the Ombudsman determined that the Coronas' unexplained wealth is "at least" P130,336,212.88 – "a conservative estimate as it does not include their cost of living allowance commensurate to their social stature and expenses entailed by their travels abroad."
The perjury charges were based on the "false" sworn declarations in the SALNs of Corona who, the Ombudsman said, "failed" to include peso and dollar bank accounts in his 2003-2010 SALNs, a condominium unit at the The Columns in Makati City in his 2004-2009 SALN, and a condominium unit at Spanish Bay Tower in Taguig City in his 2005-2009 SALN.
In his 2010 SALN, Corona was found to have declared only P6.8 million as the acquisition cost of a condominium unit in Bellagio I in Taguig City, when the true acquisition cost is P14.51 million, the Ombudsman said.
It added that in his SALNs from 2003 to 2009, Corona was found to have undervalued his La Vista property in Quezon City by P8 million.
The former chief justice was also charged with violation of RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, "for not filing true and detailed SALNs for 2003-2010."
Corona had earlier maintained that their assets came from "45 years of hard, honest work." He has consistently claimed to be the victim of "merciless prosecution" by the Aquino administration.
After a 44-day trial that ended on May 29, 2012, the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, found Corona guilty of betraying public trust and committing culpable violation of the Constitution, the first Philippine magistrate to be impeached and convicted. – Rappler.com