MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Chief Justice Renato Corona denied he and his family own real estate properties in the United States.
In a statement in response to a question by a blogger on whether he has properties in the US, Corona said: “The addresses cited by Raissa Robles were the apartments rented by my two daughters, both licensed physical therapists in the United States, at various times over the past 14 years.”
In her blog entry entitled “Does Renato C. Corona have a clone living in the US?”, Robles said she obtained records from the US linking the names of Corona and his family’s to two properties in the United States.
“I’m asking this question because a certain Renato C. Corona is linked to addresses in Tampa, Florida and Mountain View, California by US public records,” she said.
But Corona said these were temporary mailing addresses at those various times.
“The house in Bayshore, Tampa, Florida is owned by a family friend where we stayed in the few times that we visited Tampa and Orlando/Disney World. That is also a mailing address,” he said.
Corona insisted: “We do not own any property in the United States.”
Defense lawyer Rico Quicho also told ABS-CBNnews.com, “Robles should be more careful with her stories, if she claims to be a real journalist. Indeed, she may have called the defense several times on the matter but her intentions were not clear. The prosecution has already closed its case; press releases such as this will only bring down their case which they've butchered since the start.”
He said that such kind of “research,” if true, should have already come out since day one, or way before the prosecution filed the complaint.
“As we've seen last week during the testimony of a [Land Registration Authority or LRA] executive, [the prosecution members] were not even sure the Chief Justice had 45 properties,” he said.
Last week, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago accused LRA administrator Eulalio Diaz III of planting evidence to incriminate Corona.
Santiago’s temper flared anew, saying she does not accept the “ignorance” portrayed by Diaz when he said he only generated via a computer system the titles connected to the name of Corona.
The list implied that Corona had 45 properties, the senator-judges said. The prosecution only submitted evidence in connection with 45 properties.
Quicho added: “The prosecution will reportedly look anew into CJ’s alleged other properties, after the Senate noted they only limited their research to Metro Manila.”
He said that if critics brandish the supposed US properties, it just goes to show “[they’re] still in a fishing expedition mode, or even a character attack mode.”
Friends in the US
Robles said she discussed the matter with friends living in the US, including former consul general for the Philippines Tomas Gomez III.
She said she was able to confirm that “not only do the names of Chief Justice Corona’s children match those of the Renato C. Corona found in US public records. The ages of the children are also a perfect match.”
Corona and his wife Cristina have three children: Carla, Francis and Charina.
Robles also said Gomez wrote her a letter, posing the same questions she had in mind.
Gomez supposedly said: “To be sure—the Coronas do not have any piece of real estate registered in any of their names in the vicinity searched. However…Renato C. Corona is reflected as ‘has liven in’ 1401 Bayshore Blvd. Tampa, Florida 33606-3001.”
Robles went on to ask: “Who is this Renato Corona found in US public records who is identified as being related to Cristina, Carla, Francis and Charina Corona who is said to ‘live’ in the US?”
She also asked: “If this is indeed CJ, does this mean Corona is a US citizen or a greencard holder? He did stay for two years in the US while studying in Harvard, but this university is in Massachusetts; and not in Florida or California where the addresses linked to one Renato C. Corona are located.”