Did Corona declare P1-M luck?

Carmela Fonbuena

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The Chief Justice was the lucky winner of a 2008 bank raffle

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona is one lucky man. In March 2008, he won a hefty P1-M in a bank raffle.

Now the prosecution wants to know if he declared this in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN).

Corona won the PSBank Monthly Millions Raffle Promo, which covered all its 163 branches then and extended from February to July 2008.

Called the “Pay it Forward” campaign, the monthly raffle was open to PSBank peso and dollar account holders with a minimum average daily balance (ADB) of P25,000 and US$1,000, respectively. For those with peso and dollar time deposits, it was open to those with P100,000 and US$2,000 ADB, respectively.

A total of P25,000 ADB is equivalent to 1 raffle ticket. The bigger the bank account holders’ deposits, the more raffle tickets they get. A P1-M ADB, for example, entitles a person to 40 raffle tickets.

The Chief Justice was the first P1-M winner for the month of March, 2008. At least 100 other depositors won P1,000 each in the same month.

Chief Justice wins bank raffle

Rappler first learned about this on January 4, when we received an email from a former PSBank official who sugggested we pursue the story amid questions on Corona’s SALN. But by that time, Corona’s SALNs were still unavailable to the public.

On condition of anonymity, the ex-bank official volunteered this information: “[Corona] was the first P1 million winner of PSBank‘s Pay It Forward campaign last 2008. However, I believe he requested to keep the news of his winnings private citing banking secrecy laws. The thing is he won because of his PSBank account at the Katipunan branch. Needless to say, the bank was unable to make any press releases about it.”

He added: “It was a “non-issue” then, I don’t know if it is an issue right now. Perhaps you have sources that can easily check if that specific bank account was declared? As they say, it’s not about the P1M winning but more of the existence of the said account.”

Did the Chief Justice declare his hefty winning in his SALN?

Did he also declare his account at the PSBank that made him eligible to join the raffle?

The prosecution panel wants to know. They want the bank officers to appear before the Senate impeachment court on Wednesday, February 1, and bring with them the bank records of the chief justice and his wife.

The request, dated January 31, was signed by lead prosecutor Niel Tupas Jr. and lead private prosecutor Mario Luza Bautista.

What documents?

As of this writing, we don’t know if the Senate impeachment court has issued a subpoenae. The prosecution panel wants the bank president, manager, or other authorized officer of the PSBank branch in Paseo de Roxas Avenue corner Sedefio Street in Makati City or “any of the PSBank branches which maybe herewith involved.”

These are the documents that they want to see:

1)   Customer Identification and Specimen Signature Card(s) of the bank account(s) under the name RENATO CORONA which won P1-M in the PSBank Monthly Millions Raffle Promo as listed in the Official List of Winners as of March 13,2008;

2)   Monthly Bank Statements from the time of opening to January 2O12 of the bank account(s) under the name RENATO CORONA which won P1-M in the PSBank Monthly Millions Raffle Promo as listed in the Official List of Winners as of March13, 2008;

3)   Other bank accounts including time deposits, money market placements, peso/dollar accounts and the like, that are in the name of RENATO CORONA and/or CRISTINA CORONA.

Earlier, the prosecution panel asked the impeachment court to subpoenae documents for at least 5 bank accounts supposedly owned by the Chief Justice. This was later withdrawn when the Senate court ruled to disallow presentation of evidence for ill-gotten wealth.

What’s in his SALN?

What does Corona’s SALN say about his cash position?

In his 2008 SALN, the year he won the raffle, Corona declared P2.5-million worth of “cash and investments.”

His 2009 SALN was almost a photocopy except for the portion on liabilities. From P5-M liabilities in 2008, this went down to P3-million in 2009. This is the “cash advance” from Basa Guidote Corp, which disappeared—presumably paid off completely—in his 2010 SALN.

His 2010 SALN also showed that Corona’s “cash and investments” increased to P3.5-M.

When Corona joined the Supreme Court in 2002, he declared in his SALN P2.7 million worth of “cash and investments.” This increased to P3.3-M in 2003, the same year he declared the One Burgundy condo in Katipunan Avenue and the P11-M loan from Basa Guidote Corp.

The item went down to P2.5-M in 2006 and remained constant until the increase in 2010.

Wrapping up

The prosecution is wrapping up its presentation of evidence for Article 2 of the impeachment complaint, the alleged failure of the Chief Justice to declare his SALN.

The defense panel said that the release of Corona’s SALNs proves that the chief justice has been declaring his SALN. For them, Article 2 is lost case for the prosecution.

But the prosecution panel argues that declaring the SALN is not merely ministerial. The contents of the SALN should also be accurate.

So far, the prosecution has shown  that at least 7 lots in Marikina registered under the name of the Chief Justice and his wife were not declared. The 7 lots make up just one property that was later divided into 7 titles.

This has not been highlighted in the trial, however. The prosecution panel has focused more on how the Chief Justice supposedly undervalued his properties in his SALN.

The prosecution claims that the Chief Justice is also the true owner of a Fort Bonifacio property listed under the name of his daugher, Charina. His wife reserved the property and their joint account issued checks to pay for the property that was later named to Charina.

The defense panel said the Chief Justice only acted as an agent.

The senator-jurors will only vote to convict or acquit the Chief Justice after the prosecution and defense panels have completed presentation of evidence for all the articles of impeachment. There are 8 against Corona.

But the prosecution panel has indicated that they may only present evidence for 3 or 4 articles of impeachment and dispense with the rest. – Rappler.com



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