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Mrs Corona sued for estafa

Marites Dañguilan Vitug

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Cristina Corona is locked in a bitter property dispute with her family

MANILA, Philippines – A bitter family dispute over inheritance and property has divided the Basa family for over 2 decades. And a central character in this long-running and painful conflict is Cristina Basa Roco, wife of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

1983 is the year the troubles of majority of the Basas—2 uncles and two aunts of Cristina—began. This was after the family matriarch, Rosario Guidote vda de Basa, died in December of that year.

The battle for control of the family corporation, Basa-Guidote Enterprises, Inc., raged between 2 sides of the 5 Basa siblings.

The majority, led by Jose Ma. Basa III, included his two sisters who are nuns, Sister Conception and Sister Flor, and Mario. The minority was composed of Cristina and her parents, Asuncion Basa and Vicente Roco, both of whom are now deceased.

The 4 Basa siblings — Jose, Asuncion, Mario, and Sister Conception — have passed away without seeing a glimmer of any settlement. Sister Flor, the only surviving Basa sibling, is now 90 years old.

Estafa case

The crown jewel of BGEI and the only property was a 1,000 sq-m lot in Manila with a commercial building that was leased to about 8 tenants.

Cristina, various court documents show, claimed she was a stockholder, vice president and assistant corporate secretary of BGEI. She leased the building and collected rentals.

The rest of the Basas disputed this, saying she was never authorized to take over these functions. They further claimed that Cristina did not account for any of the collections.

The Basas sued her for estafa. Cristina sued her aunts and uncles for libel, including Sister Flor who, at the time, was in her early 80s.

In March 2001, reportedly with the help of her husband, she sold the property to the city government of Manila for P34.7 million.

At the time, the Manila City government, then under Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza, expropriated the land which they would use to relocate stallholders of the Sampaloc markets displaced by the MRT. (Renato Corona was working with President Arroyo at the time of the sale.)

The Basas cried foul, saying they were not informed of the proposal to sell the land. The check for P34.7 million was reportedly paid to Cristina Corona “in trust for BGEI.”

We asked Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez to help us get Mrs. Corona’s comment but we have not received any reply.

Till today, 9 years after the sale, the side of the Basa majority says that Cristina has not yet accounted for a single centavo of the multi-million peso revenue. –

Editor’s note: Marites Dañguilan-Vitug is finishing a sequel to her best-selling book on the Supreme Court, “Shadow of Doubt.”

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Marites Dañguilan Vitug

Marites is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished journalists and authors. For close to a decade, Vitug – a Nieman fellow – edited 'Newsbreak' magazine, a trailblazer in Philippine investigative journalism. Her recent book, 'Rock Solid: How the Philippines Won Its Maritime Case Against China,' has become a bestseller.