Sandigan orders scrutiny of Corona bank documents in forfeiture case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 30 2017 04:38 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 2nd Divison reversed its 2016 resolution and ordered the opening of bank documents of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina.

In a resolution promulgated October 23, 2017, the anti-graft court said the documents are the subject of a forfeiture case against the Coronas and should not be impeded by the Bank Secrecy Law. 

The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division also said the Ombudsman is allowed to access bank accounts and records under the Ombudsman Act or Republic Act 6770.

"There can be no infraction of the policy of secrecy of bank deposits. Bank deposits can be inquired into upon the order of this court if said deposits are the subject of litigation, like in this case," the court said.

The Coronas are facing a P130 million civil forfeiture case at the anti-graft court, following the 2012 impeachment of the late former chief justice.

Corona was impeached and was removed from office after a trial by the Senate impeachment court due to failure to declare wealth in statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. 

The impeached chief justice died of cardiac arrest on April 29, 2016, leaving his wife Cristina alone in facing the civil forfeiture case. 

In January 2016, the court issued subpoenas to certain bank documents and to the testimonies of certain bank officials in connection to the case of the Coronas. 

The subpoenas were issued to Anthony Chua of Allied Banking Corporation, Maybelen Villareal of the Land Bank of the Philippines, Pascual Garcia of PS Bank Center, Francisco Burgos of Land Bank of the Philippines, and Enrico Cruz and Celia Orbeta of Deutsche Bank AG Manila. 

But after the Coronas opposed the issuance of the subpoenas in their omnibus motion filed on February 2016, the court released a resolution dated April 28, 2016 withdrawing its issuance of the subpoenas.

The prosecution then filed their motion for clarification and reconsideration citing the importance of the subpoenas as part their examination of witnesses pursuant to the Judicial Affidavit Rule.