Former Chief Justice Renato Corona has continued to push for the dismissal of 16 counts of perjury and ethical violations charged against him, questioning the Office of the Ombudsman’s (OMB) independence before the Sandiganbayan.
Crying foul over not being accorded due process, the Corona camp filed a motion for judicial determination of probable cause on April 2 that was submitted on Friday to the court.
The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division has given the prosecution 15 days to respond to the defense’s claim that there was no probable cause to charge him with perjury, in a hearing Friday morning.
Last week, the OMB filed eight counts each of perjury and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees against Corona, who said he was “shocked” at being slapped with the charges.
The defense accused the OMB of pre-judging the case, since its prosecutors were the ones who gathered evidence and “acted as complainants” instead of investigators.
The motion read that there was no reason to hold a trial as the evidence submitted was not credible and “show that the accused did not commit the crimes charged.”
It noted that “failure” to declare some properties in his 2003-2010 statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN) did not mean a “willful or deliberate intention to assert a falsehood,” which constituted perjury.
According to the defense, Corona “took pains” to rectify the omissions in his 2004 SALN under a corrective measure in the Code of Conduct.
Their camp also asked the court not to issue a warrant of arrest pending resolution.
“If we’re lucky there will be no more arraignment,” one of Corona’s lawyers, lawyer Reody Balisi, said.
The defense panel will have 15 days to file their response upon receipt of the prosecution’s comment.