Corona posts bail in tax evasion case

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

MANILA -- Ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona posted P120,000 bail for his temporary liberty with the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) on Tuesday in connection with his P120.5-million tax evasion case.

He will be arraigned on April 2 as he is expected to plead not guilty to the charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), whose head, Secretary Leila de Lima, testified against him in his impeachment trial in 2012.

"From the very start, I never had any illusions about getting fairness and justice from the DOJ, whose head, De Lima, testified so virulently against me during my sham, bribe-laden impeachment trial," he said Thursday, recalling insinuations that funds coming from Malacañang's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) may had been used to convince senators to convict him.

De Lima appeared at the Senate to shore up the prosecution's accusation that Corona influenced the Supreme Court (SC) to clip the DOJ's power to issue a watchlist aimed at stopping his former boss, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, from leaving the country in November 2011.

The Justice chief defied the court order and is now facing a disbarment case.

After Corona was removed from office for not fully disclosing his cash assets, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) alleged before the DOJ that he did not pay P120.5 million in taxes in relation to the purchase of some properties during his 10-year stint at the SC.

The DOJ issued a resolution in April 2013 backing the BIR’s claims, stating that Corona did not file income tax returns from 2003 to 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010 and failed to declare two condominium units in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Corona asked the DOJ to reverse its findings but the panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela junked his appeal for lack of merit. This led to the filing of the case with the CTA on Monday.

“The respondent (Corona) merely reiterated his defenses averred in his counter-affidavit and rejoinder-affidavit. However, the undersigned panel of prosecutors already ruled on these claims in the issued resolution dated 26 April 2013,” the resolution stated.

The former Chief Justice maintained his innocence.

"Why am I now being persecuted? I have done no wrong. Earned our savings honestly for 45 years, filed my income tax returns and SALNs truthfully, paid all my taxes to the government and was never been once in my life ever been involved in any anomaly or illegal transaction. Our funds are our private funds honestly earned," he said.

His daughter Carla and her husband Constantino Castillo III are facing a separate P30-million tax evasion case. (Sunnex)

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