Corona: I don't own $10M

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Apr 30 2012 02:46 PM | Updated as of May 01 2012 02:19 AM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday said it is clear that the recent ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman asking him to explain his supposed multi-million dollar and peso bank accounts is clearly a retaliation to last week's ruling of the Supreme Court on Hacienda Luisita.

In a text message sent to reporters, Corona raised seven points against the Ombudsman's order, which was reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday.

He said it is “obviously a clear retaliation on our decision on the Hacienda Luisita.”

After the Supreme Court announced its ruling last Tuesday, Corona said “sigurado [I’m sure]” that the administration of President Benigno Aquino III will get back at him.

The chief magistrate has always believed that the high court’s order to distribute the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita and award lower landowner compensation is the reason why Aquino wants him out of the high court.

Malacañang, in turn, has consistently denied this. Even Aquino's appointees to the Supreme Court ruled to distribute the hacienda to farmer-beneficiaries.

Last Tuesday, a majority of eight magistrates voted to compensate the landowners at a much lower valuation or at 1989 rates. This was when the Cojuangcos lost ownership of the sugar estate.

Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI), controlled by the Cojuangcos, wanted 2006 rates, which could mean just compensation to the landowners of around P5 billion.

On Sunday, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales asked Corona, her former colleague in the Supreme Court, to explain in writing how he was supposed to acquire peso and dollar accounts.

“This office finds that there is reasonable ground to proceed further with the conduct of an inquiry vis-à-vis the charges that you, during your incumbency as a public officer, accumulated wealth that is purportedly grossly disproportionate to your salary and other lawful income,” Morales was quoted as saying in her April 20 order, a copy of which has yet to be officially released as of posting time.

Corona said, “Why are they putting this out in the Inquirer and not in the impeachment court?”

“The moves of the Ombudsman and the Inquirer are obviously well-coordinated and in-sync," he added.

Corona said Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the chief justice since impeachable officers can only be removed by Senate.

“I do not own 10m dollars. It simply does not exist,” he reiterated.

“It’s part of black propaganda and mind-conditioning preparatory to the resumption of trial on May 7,” he said. It is “no different from the phoney LRA list; phoney US property list; phoney surveys; phoney letters to the Inquirer editors etc.”