By Sammy F. Martin
MANILA, Aug. 13 (PNA) — The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan said on Thursday it found probable cause to hold on trial impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona for perjury and false declaration in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities Net Worth (SALN).
Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang told reporters at the sidelines of the budget hearing of the Judiciary at the House of Representatives that the court formed a Special Division of Five which voted 4-1 to dismiss Corona’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause to hold him on trial.
“The court has yet to release a copy of its decision to the media. There is probable cause that he has committed the crime… My recollection is that there are certain properties that he failed to include in his SALN for a number of years based on the documents submitted,” Tang pointed out.
Aside from Tang, those who voted to hold Corona on trial were Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Jose Hernandez and Ma. Theresa Gomez-Estoesta. Associate Justice Samuel Martires dissented.
Corona was charged before the Sandiganbayan with eight counts of perjury and another eight counts of violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for his alleged undeclared assets in his SALN.
The Ombudsman indicted Corona for allegedly deliberately lying on his true net worth by not declaring properties and several bank accounts as well as undervaluing a number of real-estate properties that he declared.
During its investigation, the Ombudsman Special Panel of Investigators said from 2001 to 2011, Corona and his spouse earned a total of PhP 30.4 million, of which PhP 27.1 million was earned by Corona as an official at the Office of the President, a Supreme Court justice, member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal and member of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
Corona’s wife, Cristina, earned PhP 3.2 million for 2007-2010, based on the Alpha List submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by the John Hay Development Corp. (JHDC) where she was employed.
The resolution stated that from 2002 to 2010, Corona’s cash deposits ballooned from PhP 1.34 million to PhP 137.9 million.
By 2010, the cumulative discrepancy between his SALN declaration and his actual cash deposits had amounted to PhP 134.4 million.
Moreover, the resolution also cited records of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) on several properties owned by the Corona spouses in Quezon City, Makati City and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, which were found to be significantly undervalued by PhP 7.3 million.
Corona was impeached by the Senate for false declarations of wealth in his SALN. He also faces a PhP 130-million forfeiture case before the Sandiganbayan. (PNA)