• Ombudsman pushes for freezing of P130.59 million Corona assets

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    Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has sought for the freezing of P130.59 million assets of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife, Cristina, before the Sandiganbayan.

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    This developed after Ombudsman Morales, in a 27-paged decision, filed a forfeiture case against the Corona couple for allegedly using their position in amassing of ill-gotten wealth and asked the anti-graft court to issue a writ of preliminary attachment which will freeze the assets of Mr. and Mrs. Corona, whether in peso or in dollar deposits, in banks and real estate properties in Quezon City and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

    In support of the said forfeiture case, Ombudsman Morales delivered attachments and documents measured around three-feet tall to the Sandiganbayan’s court docket as supporting evidence.

    Specifically, the evidence gathered by the Office of the Ombudsman, showed that Corona’s legitimate earnings amounted to P30.37 million in his tenure as a legal officer in the Office of the President (2001), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (2002 to 2011), a member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (2008 to 2009) and the House Electoral Tribunal (2009 to 2010).

    Mr. Corona, however, only posted P13.97 million net worth in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth in 2001—an amount that only increased by P8.97 million for the next 10 years since he only recorded P22.94 million net worth in his 2010 SALN.

    Mrs. Corona’s legally-acquired income, on the other hand, was pegged at P30.37 million during her term as an official of the John Hay Development Corporation from 2007 to 2010—an amount which wasn’t found in Mr. Corona’s SALN.

    “Records reveal that respondent Renato Corona has cash deposits, in various peso and dollar accounts in different banks..that he failed to declare in his SALNs. As summarized, such cash deposits total P137,937,207.88 … (and) as borne by authentic bank records, far exceed those he declared in his SALNs,” the Ombudsman said.

    On top of the forfeiture case, Ombudsman Morales also found probable cause to charge eight counts of perjury charges and eight counts of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees against the former top jurist.

    Ombudsman Morales is a retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and was one of the Associate Justices of the High Court when Corona was still the Chief Justice.

    These cases, however, are seen coming to Mr. Corona since he was convicted of betrayal of public trust over faulty entry of his assets under his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) by the Senate impeachment court in May 2012. This conviction ousted him from his Chief Justice post.

    During his Senate impeachment trial, Mr. Corona admitted that there was a deliberate effort to hide his dollar accounts from his SALN.

    LLANESCA T. PANTI

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