Corona asks Sandiganbayan to dismiss P137M forfeiture case
MANILA, Philippines – Dismissed chief justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina have asked anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to dismiss the P137.937 million forfeiture case filed by the government against them.
In March, the Ombudsman filed the case against the Corona couple for the forfeiture of their assets that were allegedly acquired illegally.
In their 29-page answer filed with the Sandiganbayan's 2nd division on Friday, November 7, the Corona couple belied allegations their assets were acquired through unlawful means.
They also said the Ombudsman obtained confidential documents through illegal methods to strengthen the government's case.
The couple added that the case stems from a "vindictive desire" to "harass" the former Chief Justice, who was ousted by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court in May 2012 due to undeclared wealth in Corona's Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
“The present case is nothing but an offshoot of the vindictive desire to continuously harass and persecute the former Chief Magistrate of the land under the cloak of a supposed crusade against corruption,” they said.
Corona said the forfeiture case was filed due to a decision issued by the Supreme Court in November 2010 “ordering the distribution of land titles to farmers of the hacienda Luisita, which belongs to the incumbent President’s family.”
The former chief justice said this ruling was also the basis behind the filing of an impeachment complaint against him and his eventual dismissal from office.
Corona dismissed the allegation of ill-gotten wealth, saying that the P137 million amount was a flawed figure.
“The amount of P137,937,208.88 allegedly reflecting the respondents’ supposed actual cash assets was erroneously computed and simplistically arrived at by merely adding amounts in the respondents’ bank accounts,” the couple said.
In their answer, the couple said their cash assets come from five sources:
- Basa Guidote property expropriation;
- interest income from Basa Guidote expropriation proceeds from 2001 onwards;
- conjugal funds;
- children’s funds; and
- roll-over earnings from co-mingled funds
The Corona couple said the P137 million figure in the forfeiture case did not take into consideration “redemptions, maturities, withdrawals and integrations of cash placements.”
They also said that it did not consider their assets and earnings for years before 2002.
The Coronas said the Ombudsman, by filing the case against them, did not heed bank secrecy laws protecting the confidentiality of bank accounts.
The former Chief Justice also dismissed allegations of having undervalued their real estate properties.
In filing their answer, the Corona couple asked the anti-graft court to dismiss the petition for forfeiture for lack of merit. – Rappler.com