MANILA -- Former Chief Justice Renato Corona urged the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify the Ombudsman's indictment of him on charges of perjury and misdeclaration of Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), and to stop the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with trial.
In a 48-page petition, Corona, joined by his wife, Cristina, who is also a respondent in a separate forfeiture case, accused the Ombudsman of committing grave abuse of discretion, and asked the high court to order the anti-graft body to cease from prosecuting the cases, and halt the proceedings before the anti-graft court.
The Coronas maintained their innocence, and claimed that the anti-graft office, headed by retired SC Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, who testified in the former Chief Justice's impeachment trial in favor of the prosecution, is bent on persecuting them absent any factual and legal bases.
They alleged that it was Ombudsman Morales herself, through the anti-graft investigators-turned-complainants, who procured bank documents "illegally obtained from the banks," which are inadmissible in a court of law.
"[T]he Ombudsman unjustly found probable cause to charge petitioner Renato Corona... notwithstanding the absence of any legal and factual basis to support such erroneous findings.
"These acts of the Ombudsman betray a strong desire to persecute rather than prosecute, resulting in the serious abuse of discretion on the part of said office. The Ombudsman's blatant disregard of the law and facts surrounding this case is a serious, if not dangerous and oppressive...," the petition read.
The Ombudsman, in indicting Corona of misdeclaration of assets, alleged that he did not declare certain properties and cash assets in his SALNs for the years 2003 to 2010.
The issue led to Corona's conviction in his 2011 impeachment trial.
The Coronas maintained that their wealth has not been obtained through illegal means but a product of 45 years of hard and honest work.