BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Dismissed Chief Justice Renato Corona abandoned his claim for retirement pay days before the Supreme Court was scheduled to decide on it.
In a letter to the SC en banc dated April 8 (Monday), Corona said he was withdrawing his earlier request to be granted retirement benefits.
The letter was received by the SC en banc but the justices had no time to tackle the issue, with other matters lined up in their agenda, Court insiders said.
Watch this report below.
The same insiders said the Court will likely discuss the matter in its next en banc session on Tuesday, April 22.
But it appears that his withdrawal now makes the case moot.
The High Court was originally scheduled to tackle the matter as early as December 2013, but the justices postponed their deliberations a few times.
In a letter he sent to the Court middle of 2013, Corona asked his former colleagues to allow the release of his retirement pay. If he did not send the letter, the Court would have no reason to discuss the matter. (READ: Is Corona entitled to retirement pay?)
Removed from office
He argued that his removal from office via impeachment does not prevent him from claiming retirement benefits.
His request sparked criticism from sectors that supported his impeachment. They said he did not retire but was removed from office.
Corona was dismissed in 2012, after a majority of senators voted him guilty of violating the Constitution for supposed undeclared wealth in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).
Lawyers familiar with the issue estimated that Corona’s retirement pay would amount to a lump sum of P20 million.
Corona’s impeachment was marred by allegations of bribery, with those who voted for his dismissal supposedly receiving millions in pesos through the Aquino administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The DAP is now the subject of deliberations by the SC justices in its summer sessions in Baguio, after oral arguments were heard earlier in the year.
Corona, for his part, faces before the Office of the Ombudsman perjury charges for the undeclared wealth in his SALNs. Likewise, he is faced with tax evasion charges before the Court of Tax Appeals for allegedly failing to pay taxes for income he supposedly received outside his tenure in the High Court.
The former magistrate is currently out on bail. – with reports from Buena Bernal/Rappler.com