Court stops hearing of six cases vs Corona

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The Court of Tax Appeals en banc (full bench) has ordered the CTA Second Division to stop from proceeding in the charges filed against former Chief Justice Renato Corona for alleged non-payment of tax.

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In a 12-page resolution dated December 4 and made public on Friday, the CTA en banc granted the defense’s Motion for the Issuance of a Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction, which was filed last August.

“The Second Division of the court is hereby directed to refrain from further proceeding in Criminal Cases Nos. O-357, O-359, O-361, O-363, O-364 and O-367, conditioned on petitioner’s filing of a bond equivalent to the total amount of tax liabilities alleged in the six (6) Informations [charge sheets]in Criminal Case Nos. O-357, O-359, O-361, O-363, O-364 and O-367, for violations of Section 254 of the NIRC [National Internal Revenue Code], as amended,” it ruled.

Corona, who was impeached by the Senate in 2012, is facing the six counts of alleged violation of Section 254 of the NIRC for his alleged attempt to evade or defeat tax in the years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010.

The defense earlier sought an order from the tax court en banc to restrain the Second Division from further acting in the cases until the court en banc resolves its petition for review with finality.

Last October 7, the CTA’s Second Division deferred Corona’s arraignment after the CTA en banc granted the defense’s plea for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and ordered a temporary suspension of the proceedings for 60 days.

The former Chief Justice was arraigned in the cases for alleged violation of Section 255 of the NIRC in February. Section 255 refers to failure to file income tax return.

The former magistrate’s camp argued that proceeding with the arraignment and trial in the cases for alleged violation of Section 254 of the NIRC would subject him to double jeopardy, because these charges are “essentially and materially the same or identical with” the other six counts filed against him for alleged violation of Section 255.

The prosecution argued that Sections 254 and 255 of the country’s Tax Code are separate and distinct offenses.

Te court granted Corona’s motion “without necessarily prejudging the merit” of his petition for review.

The cases were filed in 2011.

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