Wife's 'assets' not in Corona's SALN - prosecutors

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 16 2012 08:51 PM | Updated as of Feb 17 2012 10:44 AM


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Chief Justice Renato Corona should have disclosed in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN) his wife's alleged assets in a family corporation, the impeachment prosecution panel said on Thursday.

This should have been made because it is required by law and Corona's wife, Cristina, did not apparently file SALNs while she was an official of John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC), a government-owned and -controlled corporation, according to Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, a House prosecution panel spokesman.

"We can only presume na iyung finile ni CJ Corona, ay isang joint SALN," Angara said.

"Dapat nandooon po iyon. Kung 2001 po iyung tseke katulad po ng sinabi ng defense spokespersons, dapat mula noong date na natanggap, dapat nakadeklara po sa kanilang SALN," he added.

Section 8-A of Republic Act No. 6713, which Corona is accused of violating, requires that government officials disclose their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests, including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.

It specifically requires that a government official discloses "assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks."

Defense spokesman Tranquil Salvador III said questions regarding Corona's bank accounts will be answered when the defense presents its evidence.

He said the money in 3 PSBank accounts that were closed Dec. 12, 2011, the same day that Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives, belongs to BGEI, which Mrs. Corona and her relatives own.

"Sa Basa-Guidote po yun. Company nila," he said. "Iyung detalye na yan ipapakita naman once we present our case."

The 3 bank accounts are:

Account 089-121021681 - P7,148,238.83 as of December 2010
Account 089-121019593 - P12,580,316.56 as of December 31, 2010
Account 089-121023848 - P17 million as of June 29, 2011

Corona's defense team earlier said BGEI earned P34 million after one of its properties was expropriated by the City of Manila in 2001.

On Thursday, Corona's lawyers said they had previously did not want to bare details of the accounts because Mrs. Corona was sued for estafa by her relatives, the Basas.

Not in SEC documents either

Angara, however, said Mrs. Corona's claim that she owns majority of BGEI is not shown in the company's documents in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

A SEC official earlier testified that BGEI had "ceased to operate legally by 2007."

Even if Mrs. Corona's statements are true, then her holdings in BGEI should be reflected in the Chief Justice's SALN, Angara said.

"Kung iyon po ang totoo, dapat nakadeklara po iyon sa SALN, either equity or shares o kung ano pa pa man. Dapat nakadeklara po iyung value nung holdings nila sa SALN," he said. "Dapat nasa SALN nga iyon, kasi doon sa SALN may pirma."

In the SALN, which is sworn under oath, a government official affixes his signature after the following portion: "I hereby certify to the best of my knowledge and information that these are complete and true statements of my assets, liabilities, net worth, business interests, and financial connections, including those of my spouse and my children below 18 years of age living in my household, and the names of my relatives in the Government, as of [year covered by filing], as required by and in accordance with Republic Act No. 6713. I further certify that no assets, liabilities, business interests, financial connections, and relatives in the Government other than those declared herein are known to me, my spouse, and my children below 18 years of age living in my household."

Rep. Erin Tañada, another member of the prosecution team, said the Coronas had all the time in the world to move it to a bank account that is not in the Chief Justice's name.

"Kung sasabihin nga po nila na sa Basa-Guidote iyan as early as 2001, bakit 2002 hindi nila nilipat, 2003 hindi nila nilipat? Bakit nanatili sa account pa rin ni CJ Corona iyan?" he asked.

"They had so many years to do that. Remember, they themselves have been saying, this check had been in trust for the company. Bakit hindi nila nilipat sa kumpanya iyung pera?" he added.

Prosecution: Flight evidence of guilt

Rep. Miro Quimbo, meanwhile, said the prosecution team is "excited" with what the defense has to say.

"Excited din kami pakinggan iyung kanilang paliwanag. we ask everybody to be patient. Sa dami na po ng pinagbibili nila at pera nila, sa bangko, they will try to cover this up with as many stories as they can para mapagtakpan po nila ito," he said.

He added that Corona's closure of the 3 peso accounts on December 12, 2011, the same day that he was impeached by the House of Representatives, is an indication of the Chief Justice's guilt.

"Sa batas po, may tinatawag na flight is always an evidence of guilt. Ibig sabihin, kapag may ginagawa kang pag-alis, ang tingin ng batas diyan, mayroon kang ginagawang pag-amin ng kasalanan. That is a presumption, although rebuttable," he said.

"Tingin po namin, iyung pagwi-withdraw po ng napakaraming pera noong December 12, the day of the impeachment, would seem to indicate an evidence of flight."

"Ang puwede lang natin masabi dito, there were 3 accounts that were, time deposits that were terminated the same day, at ang opening value ng 3 iyon, ay lumalagpas ng P31 million," he added.