Ombudsman indicts ex-CJ Corona for amassing ill-gotten wealth

By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Jan. 29 (PNA) — The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has found probable cause to charge former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona and his wife, Cristina, with violation of Republic Act No. 1379, or Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Properties Law.

The Ombudsman said the former SC justice will also faced eight counts of perjury and eight counts of violation of Section 11 of RA No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

In a 22-page resolution which Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved on Jan. 28, 2014, the special panel of investigators found that from 2001 to 2011, the spouses Corona earned a total income of P30,369,120.13, of which P27,145,472.68 was earned by CJ Corona as an official at the Office of the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court (SC), member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), and member of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

Meanwhile, Cristina earned P3,223,647.45 for the period 2007-2010, based on the Alpha List submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by the John Hay Development Corporation (JHDC) where she was employed.

The resolution said that from 2002 to 2010, Corona’s actual cash deposits ballooned from P1,337,072.28 to P137,937,207.88, and by 2010 the cumulative discrepancy between his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) declaration and his actual cash deposits amounted to P134,437,207.88.

The resolution also cited the Land Registration Authority (LRA) records on several properties owned by the Corona spouses in Quezon City, Makati City and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, which were established to be significantly undervalued by P17,297,145.00.

It pointed out the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) certifications stating that the Corona spouses have no existing business registered in their name, even while CJ Corona’s SALN for 2003-2009 disclosed that his wife is connected with the Basa Guidote Enterprises, Inc.

The Ombudsman determined that the Coronas’ unexplained wealth is at least P130,336,212.88.

The amount of P130,336,212.88 is an conservative estimate as it includes their cost of living allowance commensurate to their social stature and expenses entailed by their travels abroad.

On the perjury charges, the resolution found that the sworn declarations in Corona’s SALNs were false, as he failed to include the numerous peso and dollar bank accounts (in his 2003-2010 SALNs), a condominium unit at the The Columns, Makati City (in his 2004-2009 SALN), and a condominium unit at Spanish Bay Tower in Taguig City (in his 2005-2009 SALN).

CJ Corona was found to have only declared P6,800,000.00 as the acquisition cost of a condominium unit in Bellagio I in Taguig City in his SALN for 2010, when the true acquisition cost is P14,510,000.00.

In his SALNs from 2003 to 2009, CJ Corona also undervalued the property located at La Vista in Quezon City by P8,000,000.00.

CJ Corona was also charged with violation of RA 6713, for not filing true and detailed SALNs for 2003-2010, when the value of his declared cash assets and the actual bank deposits had substantial discrepancies and his real assets in Makati, Taguig and Quezon City were not declared.

Ombudsman Morales ordered the filing of a petition for forfeiture with the Sandigabayan, along with the sets of criminal charges for perjury and violation of RA 6713. (PNA)