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MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona’s defense lawyers on Thursday, January 19, downplayed inconsistencies between what he declared in his asset disclosures and those reflected in real estate documents.
At a press conference held after Day 4 of the impeachment trial, defense lawyer Serafin Cuevas pointed out that the impeachment complaint filed against his client did not include the list of Corona’s properties.
“The complaint only said he did not file. But they themselves admitted that he filed. There was a witness who said that it was in their files. That means it was filed. Hindi naman kasama ang list of properties doon,” he said.
Asked by ABS-CBN reporter Jing Castañeda if they asked their client for copies of the real estate documents, and if they were able to study these against his asset disclosures, Cuevas said yes.
“We did. It is not our practice nor our custom, me in particular (not to do so). That is practically inducing him to suffer a defeat in the trial of the case. We talked to him very seriously,” Cuevas said.
He added, “We asked all angles which we feel might happen. He was very cooperative.”
Cuevas also pointed out that those who testified in today’s hearing on the properties were just the registers of deeds. “Anong kinalaman ng register of deeds?”
Cuevas explained to reporters that ordinarily, the assessment indicated in property sale documents are way below the total market price.
“It’s a matter of law and public knowledge that the amount reflected is way way below the actual market price. For example, what is reflected is P3 million, but actually the property may be valued at P10 million,” he said.
It is rare, according to Cuevas, for one to overvalue properties in deeds of sale.(In his SALNs, Corona undervalued at least 4 of his properties if compared to what was indicated in the deeds of absolute sale attached to said properties.)
“Madalang na madalang yung P1 million, ilalagay ay P10 million. Yun po eh doon lang sa mga swindler. Uutang sa bangko, ilalagay ay malaki para makautang ng malaki.” (It is very rare that you have a property really valued at P1 million but what is reflected is P10 million. Only swindlers do that. They borrow from banks, they value the property higher so that they can borrow more.)
For those who don’t want to pay higher taxes, Cuevas said, the practice is usually to undervalue property prices. “It depends on the purpose.” – Rappler.com