DOJ forms panel to probe Corona tax evasion raps

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2012 09:25 AM | Updated as of Sep 08 2012 03:15 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has constituted a panel of prosecutors who will handle the preliminary investigation into tax evasion charges filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) against former Chief Justice Renato Corona, his daughter, Carla, and son-in-law, Dr. Constantino Castillo III.

Prosecutor General Claro Arellano said the following are the members of the investigating panel: Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roseanne Balauag, chairperson; Prosecution Attorneys Roland Estepa and Javee Laurence Bandong, members.

The BIR alleged that Corona owes government P120.5 million in taxes, while his daughter's alleged income tax liability is pegged at P9.93 million.

Castillo's alleged tax liability amounts to P20.25 million, the BIR said.

In a statement, Corona said his family had "long expected" the BIR's move saying it is part of government's continuing persecution against him and his loved ones.

"By the grace of God, we will overcome," he said.

Corona also said the charges may just be government's ploy to "divert public attention from certain issues that are becoming too hot to handle."

He stressed that as as a man of the law, he shall abide by the proper processes.

The former Chief Magistrate had lamented "fabricated, malicious" charges against him at the height of his impeachment trial, and maintained he was a target of a wide-spread demolition campaign.

Corona repeatedly insists that he was loyal to his oath as Chief Justice and was convicted of an unimpeachable offense.