The Office of the Ombudsman has approved the filing of civil and criminal charges against former Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife and the forfeiture of the couple’s P130-million assets.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved on Tuesday a 22-page resolution submitted by a special graft panel that recommended eight counts of forfeiture cases and eight counts of perjury against Corona.
Records show that between 2001 and 2011, the Coronas earned a total income of P30.36 million, of which P27.14 million came from Corona’s stint in various government agencies.
Corona held offices at the Office of the President, Supreme Court, Senate Electoral Tribunal and House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
His wife, Cristina, earned P3.22 million from 2007 to 2010, based on the Alpha List submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by the John Hay Development Corp., where she was employed.
Graft investigators said that from 2002 to 2010, Corona’s actual cash deposits swelled from P1.33 million to P137.93 million.
By 2010, the cumulative discrepancy between his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) declaration and his actual cash deposits had risen to P134.43 million, they said.
Records from the Land Registration Authority on properties owned by the Coronas in Quezon City, Makati City and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City were also undervalued by P17.29 million.
Adding up the figures, the investigators said Corona’s total worth reached P160.7 million.
If the couple’s combined income of P30.36 million is deducted, the unexplained wealth comes to P130.33 million.
The P130.33 million “is a conservative estimate as it includes their cost of living allowance commensurate to their social stature and expenses entailed by their travels abroad,” the Ombudsman said.
It said the Coronas “have no existing business registered in their name” according to certification from the Department of Trade and
Industry “even while Corona’s [wealth reports]for 2003 to 2009 disclosed that his wife is connected with the Basa Guidote Enterprises Inc.”
On top of the civil charges, perjury charges will be filed against the Corona over “false” sworn declarations.
The Ombudsman said Corona failed to include his peso and dollar bank accounts in his 2003 to 2010 SALNs, a unit at The Columns in Makati City in his 2004 to 2009 SALN, and a unit at Spanish Bay Tower in Taguig City in his 2005 to 2009 SALN.
The former chief magistrate was accused of declaring P6.8 million as the acquisition cost of a unit in Bellagio I in Taguig City in his 2010 SALN, when the true acquisition cost was P14.51 million.
In his SALNs from 2003 to 2009, Corona also allegedly undervalued his property at La Vista in Quezon City by P8 million.
But Corona maintained that their assets and properties were the “product of 45 years of hard, honest work.”
“I have never been involved in any anomalous or illegal transaction in my life,” he said.
Corona said he was not surprised the Ombudsman was going after him and his wife.
“What fairness could we have expected from an Ombudsman who viciously prevaricated and testified against me as a malicious witness during my sham and multibillion-peso bribe-laden impeachment trial in 2012? This merciless persecution is but a replay of that PDAF and DAP-facilitatedimpeachment proceeding against me and my family,” he said in a statement.
‘The harassment continues without let up. Malacañang and its attack dogs were not content with removing me from office. I will fight this persecution to the very end, knowing that truth is on my side,” he added.
In 2012, the Senate impeachment court found Corona guilty of Article II of the Articles of Impeachment pertaining to his failure to disclose his SALN.