The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday ordered the filing of a forfeiture case at the Sandiganbayan against former Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina after it denied the couple’s motion for reconsideration.
In a 15-page joint order signed on Wednesday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said there is no cogent reason to reverse a resolution dated January 14, 2014 on the forfeiture of the Coronas’ assets in favor of the government.
Morales directed the immediate filing of a petition for forfeiture with the Sandiganbayan, along with the sets of criminal informations for eight counts of perjury and eight counts of violation of Republic Act (RA) 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
During investigation, a special panel of investigators determined 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 Renato Corona as an official at the Office of the President, a justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal and a member of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
Meanwhile, Cristina Corona earned P3,223,647.45 in 2007-2010, based on the so-called Alpha List submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue by the John Hay Development Corp. where Mrs. Corona was employed.
The resolution stated that from 2002 to 2010, Renato 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.
It cited Land Registration Authority records on several pieces of property owned by the Coronas in Quezon City, Makati City and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, which were established to be significantly undervalued by P17,297,145.00.
In sum, the Office of the Ombudsman determined that the Coronas’ unexplained wealth is at least P130,336,212.88.
The amount does not include the couple’s cost of living allowance commensurate to their social stature and expenses entailed by their travels abroad.
On the charges of perjury, the Ombudsman found that the sworn declarations in Corona’s SALN were false, as Corona failed to include the numerous peso and dollar bank accounts (in his 2003-2010 SALN), a condominium unit at 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).
Corona was found to have only declared P6.8 million as the acquisition cost of a condominium unit in Bellagio I in Taguig City in his SALN for 2010, when the true acquisition cost was P14.5 million. In his SALN from 2003 to 2009, Corona also undervalued the property located at La Vista in Quezon City by P8 million.
The former chief magistrate was also charged with violation of RA 6713 for not filing true and detailed SALN for 2003-2010, when the value of his declared cash assets—with the actual bank deposits showing substantial discrepancies—and that of his real assets in Makati, Taguig and Quezon City were not declared.