MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona said Friday, May 25, that he has US$2.4-M in dollar accounts and P80-M peso deposits. These were undeclared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
His 2010 Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SALN) shows that he had only P3.5-M in “cash and investments.” Corona’s 2010 SALN is the latest available SALN of the Chief Justice. While he filed his 2011 SALN last April, he has not released this to the public.
Appearing for the second time in his own impeachment trial, Corona disclosed that he has at present a total of $2.4-M in his 4 dollar accounts and P80-M in his peso deposits. Based on a $1 to P43 exchange rate, the dollar deposits would be worth P103.2-M.
Corona’s total peso and dollar deposits total P183.2-M.
Corona admitted he did not disclose his dollar deposits due to the confidentiality of foreign currency deposits.
He said his dollar accounts grew over a span of 35 years — from the time he started saving dollars in the 1960s. Asked by Sen Francis Pangilinan if he believed that the law on foreign currency deposits overrides the 1987 Constitution, which obliges public officials to declare their wealth, Corona said he chose to follow the former which gives primacy to confidentiality.
Pangilinan pointed out that if this was the case, nothing would stop a public official from hiding his illegal wealth in dollar accounts.
On his peso accounts, which he also did not declare, Corona explained that these are “co-mingled funds.” This means, he said, that the funds are shared by the Chief Justice with his wife and his children.
As such, he was not compelled to declare these funds as well, Corona told the court.
Bank and accounting experts however say co-mingled funds should still be reflected in wealth statements. One’s own deposits would fall under “assets,” while other people’s money would fall under “liabilities.” While they balance each other out, experts explained, statements of wealth should still reflect these sums.
On May 14, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said that Corona had $12-M in dollar accounts as submitted to her by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Corona denied this and dared Morales to quit. Morales, in turn, called him a “certified liar.” – Rappler.com