BIR probe into Coronas' ITRs still ongoing

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2012 01:21 PM | Updated as of May 11 2012 02:32 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Investigations into the income tax returns (ITR) of spouses Chief Justice Renato Corona and Cristina Roco Corona and their children are ongoing, but the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is not about to divulge its status.

Speaking to reporters at the Department of Justice (DOJ), BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said investigations on possible violations of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) constituting tax evasion are "confidential" in nature.

"It's confidential [except when] the person we're investigating should bring us to court, then it becomes also public information, but at this point these are all confidential proceedings," she said.

Henares added that she did not want the Chief Justice's camp to think that they will be subjected to a "trial by publicity." She stressed the BIR is only out to make sure that violations to the NIRC are properly addressed.

"Whatever we're doing, it's really because of our legal obligation. It's our duty to do these things. We'd rather do it, at this point in time, silently, quietly, para hindi na ho kami makakadagdag pa ho sa gulo na nangyayari," Henares said.

Henares was referring to Corona's ongoing impeachment trial on allegations of culpable violations of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.

Henares added, "I can only assure everyone that first, we do not conduct an investigation unless there is a basis; second, we normally... try to protect even the people we are investigating. We want to win our case because of a legal basis and not because of anything else."

Summonses dated Jan. 25 were sent to the Corona couple, their daughter, Carla, and her husband, Constantino Castillo III days after Henares took the witness stand at the Impeachment Court as witness for the Prosecution. 

The summonses asked the Coronas to submit all their accounting records and personal books of accounts.

The Corona camp cried harassment and accused the Chief Justice's critics of a fishing expedition. Coronas supporters questioned the timing of the BIR's investigations since it came side by side with the impeachment of the Chief Magistrate.

The Corona camp also hit the BIR for launching an investigation to as far back as 1992 -- the year the Chief Justice joined government from private practice, and 10 years prior to his appointment as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (SC).

Corona joined government in 1992 as Assistant Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs to then Pres. Fidel Ramos; he was concurrent head of the Malacañan Legal Office.