Corona richer by P8M after joining SC, SALNs show

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2012 12:39 AM | Updated as of Jan 19 2012 10:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona's net worth went up from P14.9 million in 2002 to P22.9 million in 2010, according to documents submitted to the impeachment court on Wednesday.

Based on Corona's 2010 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) turned over by Supreme Court Clerk of Court Enriqueta Vidal, Corona bought a condominium in Makati in 2003 worth P1.2 million, a condominium in Taguig in 2004 worth P2.3 million, and another condominium in Taguig in 2010 worth P6.8 million. 

These prime properties were purchased purportedly on installment after Corona was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2002 by then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. His net worth has gone up by P8 million since his appointment to the high court.

Corona's net worth has been rising since 2004, based on his SALNs. 

Corona's net worth was P7.3 million in 2004. It went up to P8.3 million in 2005, P9.5 million in 2006, P11 million in 2007, P12.5 million in 2008, P14.5 million in 2009, and P22.9 million in 2010.

The condominium in Makati is believed to be a unit in The Columns, Ayala Avenue, Makati City.

The 2 condominiums in Taguig City are believed to be a unit at Bonifacio Ridge and a unit in Bellagio Tower.

Corona has admitted to owning a 300-square meter apartment in The Fort, Taguig, and that he has declared this in his SALN "when they acquired it," according to his reply to the impeachment complaint.

He has also admitted to owning 4 other properties from a Land Registration Authority (LRA) list of 45 properties released by House prosecutors last week.

Undeclared properties

After getting copies of Corona's SALN, House chief prosecutor Rep. Niel Tupas said Corona did not declare 6 supposedly big-ticket properties in his SALN.

This was Tupas’ initial assessment of the SALNs after these were obtained by the Senate impeachment court.

He said the documents show that while some properties were declared, others were misdeclared with a lower value.

He also said he did not see the Bellagio Tower property specifically stated in the SALN.

Tupas said he would like to leave it to the senator-judges to appreciate the SALNs.

House prosecutors also said the 5 properties Corona has admitted to owning in his public statements are worth over P18 million already, indicating that the properties were under-declared.

They also said the SALNs show that Corona has "undeclared assets," and that he could not have afforded the properties under his name.

Rep. Sonny Angara, one of the spokesmen for the prosecution, said Article 2 of the impeachment complaint is all about the "hidden wealth" of Corona.

Prosecution panel spokesman Miro Quimbo said the SALNs show an intent to "deceive on the part of the chief justice."

'Declared in SALN'

Meanwhile, SC spokesman Midas Marquez said Corona already said in previous interviews that he has only 5 real estate properties, which he declared in his SALN.

He said the fact that Vidal brought Corona's SALNs to the impeachment trial shows she had every intention of complying with the subpoena of the Senate impeachment court.

He said Vidal did not have time to consult with the SC en banc before going to the Senate on Wednesday.

Marquez said the guidelines of the 1989 SC resolution show that the SALNs of the justices can be released as long as it is not used for fishing expeditions or harassment purposes.

"We would like to think subpoenas issued by court are not for fishing expeditions or for harassment. These are valid court processes that we have to comply with," he said.

Former Justice Undersecretary Ramon Esguerra, one of Corona's defense lawyers, said the disclosure actually proves their point that Corona was filing his SALNs with the Supreme Court Clerk of Court, and did not violate the law.

"On the part of the appointee, there is no duty to disclose. The Clerk of Court also did not have any duty to disclose," he said.

He noted that Vidal said during her testimony that she had been receiving requests for the SALNs of the Supreme Court justices.

He said Vidal brought the requests to the SC en banc for proper guidance because she is bound by the guidelines of the Court.

The defense lawyer said Corona is actually the first Supreme Court magistrate to disclose his SALN in public even before the SC en banc could rule on various requests for the justices' SALNs.

He said Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Maria Lourdes Sereno merely issued summaries of their assets, liabilities and net worth, and not their SALNs, to the media. 

Prosecution spokesman Angara said it was the first time in 22 years that a Supreme Court justice's SALN was disclosed to the public. -- reports from Jing Castañeda, RG Cruz, Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Corona's SALN 2002

Corona's SALN 2003

Corona's SALN 2004

Corona's SALN 2005

Corona's SALN 2006

Corona's SALN 2007

Corona's SALN 2008

Corona's SALN 2009

Corona's SALN 2010