The ghost of Renato Corona haunts LP and Leni Robredo

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ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

WHEN the Liberal Party, acting at the behest of then President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd, impeached Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, they lowered the bar for impeachment. They considered the act of misdeclaration in a statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, or SALN, on the same level as a culpable violation of the Constitution, and as amounting to a betrayal of public trust.

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They succeeded. Renato Corona was convicted. Humiliated and vilified, he died a broken man, all because he committed a mistake in his SALN.

But the LP did not anticipate that the ghost of Renato Corona would come back to haunt them. They did not foresee that one of them, in the person of Leni Robredo, would find herself mired in the same predicament of a misdeclared SALN.

All the while, Leni Robredo and her LP cohorts were thinking that the only ground for which an impeachment complaint can be filed against her was her video-taped speech at the UN. Thus, they were blindsided when we considered as one of our basis for filing a complaint her misdeclaration of her shares of stocks in Meralco.

The impeachment team, of which I am a part, stumbled on this information, with a tip from an accountant who is now based in the US. While Leni Robredo listed her Meralco shares in her SALN, she failed to indicate the value of those shares, and as such, these were not incorporated in the total value of her assets. This was a consistent pattern, as revealed by her previous SALNs.

On May 9, in the program “Saksi sa Dobol B” at DZBB hosted by Mike Enriquez, Robredo admitted that she indeed owned Meralco stocks. In trying to belie a claim we did not allege in our complaint, Robredo revealed her own Achilles heel. She asserted that she in fact declared those stocks, and without Enriquez asking her, she volunteered that the acquisition value of these stocks in 1995 was P95,000.

We did not allege that she failed to list her stocks in her SALN.

What we alleged was that she did not declare the value of these stocks at current prices, and hence she misdeclared her assets. Furthermore, she also admitted to Enriquez that she doesn’t know the current value of these stocks, which is a tacit admission that she couldn’t have indicated this value in her SALN.

On these alone, and regardless of the amount of the stocks, the fact that Robredo failed to declare those already constitutes misdeclaration of her assets. And since by law, SALNs are supposed to be filed under oath, Robredo also committed perjury.

It now behooves us to inquire into how many Meralco shares of stocks Robredo really owns, and what is their value.

Market data in 1995 indicates that the value of Meralco stocks in 1995 ranged from P62.51 to a high of P70 per share. Assuming that we can take Robredo’s public admission that the value of her shares was P95,000 in 1995, we can safely assume that she only held about between 1,357 to 1,520 shares.

Let us assume that these are correct values, even if one has to wonder at the rationality of why the Robredos owned only a very limited number of shares of blue-chip stocks for a long-term investment.

At the present share price, which is around P272 pesos, this would amount to between P369,104 to P413,440.
One can admit that these are not large amounts.

However, the law on SALN did not provide for a minimum amount below which a government official can escape accountability.

In 1997, the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of a court interpreter from Davao for her failure to disclose her ownership of a public market stall in her SALN.

In 2001, Erap Estrada was hauled to court for under-declaring his assets in 1999. He however was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan due to the prosecution’s failure to prove that such was done with malice.

And in 2012, Renato Corona was impeached for his non-declaration as assets his deposits in banks and his other investments.

The Corona case is the most relevant of all in the issue of Robredo’s failure to declare as part of her assets her investments in stocks at Meralco, as it was an impeachment case.

And here, Robredo and her allies in the LP find their backs to the wall, which is entirely of their own making.

The Corona precedent, for which they are the principal architects and perpetrators, has effectively denied them the moral suasion to argue that misdeclaration is a non-impeachable offense.

If they argue that the amount is not that much, they will test the patience of a public that frowns upon selectiveness in the dispensation of justice. They will have to tell those who have been punished for misdeclaring lesser amounts in their SALNs that Leni Robredo is exempted from the reach of the law.

Or they can argue that Robredo is ignorant of the law. To prove that she had no malice, they could say that she was innocent about the amount as she was unaware of the means to know the value of her stocks. However, this would paint her as unfit to hold her license as a lawyer.

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24 Comments

  1. Adolfo Roldan on

    If Leni Robredo is clean…there is then no dirty politician !!! What she has done, being a lawyer, is criminal !!!

  2. The impeachment of whoever depends on the whims of the number of dominant political party numbers. The SALN which they made the basis is nonsense although legally allowed by law. No one in the political arena has declared an accurate SALN. I remember Ramos declaring his mansion in Ayala alabang at just a few million pesos which may be acquisition cost of land but under declared improvement. In all probability she stands more chance of losing the post in the count.

  3. Renato Corona was a man so obsessed about himself he had a nose job, eyelid reconstruction and who knows what else. If these acts of vanity and obsessions of worldly things led him to his downfall, he paid for it dearly.

  4. My god i cant believe this. You still say corona was innocent. He was hiding P180,000,000 in an account he didnt declare. The powers that be didnt know he had that account. Did robredo hide she had shares in meralco. Can you not see the difference. He had a woman sacked from service & losing all pension & everything because she didnt declare her sari sari store in her saln. How much do you think that made, P180,000,000 ha ha ha ha. I cant believe you ignoramuses. He was hiding ill gotten money, robredo declared she had shares in meralco. it would only take a quick phone call or email for her to supply any further required information. You cannot i repeat cannot compare her shares with coronas millions, its utter stupidity

  5. Renato Corona was the most corrupt chief justice that sat on that hollowed ground. He deserved what he got.

  6. Mr. Contreras, I do understand the urge of using tit-for-tat but Leni did not participate in the impeachment of CJ Corona. Tit-for-tat, at least for me, is only justified when you exact the revenge on the perpetrators of the original trespass. Applying such to others is just doing another wrong and as the saying goes: another wrong will not correct the first one. I know Leni is LP and perhaps the LP did impeach the CJ but nonetheless Leni is her own person and blaming and retaliating against her is not right. Would it be ok to punch you in the face because one of your family members punched me in the face earlier? That’s a no for me, that’s misguided revenge.

  7. Stocks prices are volatile it varies every second of every trading day. She could have indicated in her SALN the number of shares and the corresponding value as of the last day of the period covered in her SALN declaration. Stock prices are available at the pse website or she may ask her broker for it.

  8. Selective Justice is a a significant tool of powers-that-be-politician based on weather-weather concepts commonly exist in the Philippines. This is a business model that cannot be argued wrong or right. So long as you are in power, you can roll the ball according to your political taste and smart maneuver that eventually will strike down the enemy of state politics called Opposition.

  9. To Leni Robredo: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

  10. Remy Baterna on

    MERALCO is a big company. Bakit hindi ba nagpapadala ang MERALCO ng Summary of thier Investment every end of the year or say quarterly?

  11. Leodegardo M. Pruna on

    Leni, with that surreptitious smile similar to P-Noy, being a pawn of the Yellows, is now being haunted by a misdeed and injustice done to Justice Corona whose only fault was to enforce the law and make sure that justice is served as it should be to the tenants and farmers of Hacienda Luisita.If Leni has still the character of a Filipina, not polluted by Yellow minded fans, she has to admit and probably do the right thing that is to allow justice to be served. God bless the Philippines.

  12. @Jojo Pulangas: Don’t be too sensitive. Lol. In the context referred to by the article, the word ‘architect’ is synonymous to ‘engineer’ which is an act of building something. Come on, the author was clearly not degrading the profession.

  13. A dose of their own medicine!!! A noose they used to hang others would now be tied around their necks!! Let there be justice for justice Corona. Nakakaawa sya sa ginawa ng mga ito!

    • Ernesto Garcia on

      God forbid that Leni Robredo be impeached! Because God forbid another MARCOS might become president!

  14. BrownIQ2017 on

    Go ahead impeach the allege fake VP. Let us rid the government of corrupt and double standard politicians.

  15. I applause for the good write up and for being the voice to the late Renato Corona! Revenge is sweeter when karma play its part ? If theres a “win – win situation” can we also say a “lose -lose” situation ?