Corona: Forfeiture case baseless

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Friday, March 28, 2014

OUSTED Chief Justice Renato Corona blasted Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for using her personal bias against him to initiate a forfeiture case before the Sandiganbayan.

Corona and his wife, Cristina, were accused by the Ombudsman last January of amassing ill-gotten wealth worth P130.3 million from 2001 to 2011. The couple asked Morales to reconsider but she rejected it, paving the way for the filing of the cases on Thursday.

This development, Corona said, only proves that there was no possibility of getting justice from the present Ombudsman who, from the beginning exhibited "unusual hostility" towards him.

"My right to due process was denied because here the Ombudsman is the accuser, complainant, prosecutor, investigator, judge and executioner, all rolled into one and the same ombudsman. Her fingerprints were all over the place from beginning to end of this so-called ombudsman's investigation, even signing the resolution herself when she should have inhibited," he said in a statement on Thursday.

Morales is the cousin of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who was Corona's fiercest rival to the Supreme Court's top post in 2010.

She testified against Corona in his impeachment trial in 2012, accusing him of owning 82 bank accounts worth $12 million, which were allegedly not reflected in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Corona was removed by the senators from office for betraying the public trust when he understated his cash assets, a verdict that led to the investigation and filing of tax evasion and forfeiture cases against him.

"A fair and intelligent review of my SALNs within the context of the law, and even simple arithmetic, will prove that I committed no perjury. Moreover, there is no proof of wealth beyond what I could truthfully earn from honest hard work of 45 years, invest and save, in addition to my (and my wife's) family resources, and a frugal lifestyle," Corona said.

He maintained that he has never been linked to any illegal transaction or anomaly, nor even rumored to have been involved in one.

"I will not back out from this fight just as I never did from that phony impeachment mistrial because I know I am telling the truth unlike those who persecuted and continue to persecute me and my family up to the present," said Corona said, referring to the Aquino administration.

The couple is accused of violating Republic Act 1379 (forfeiture law) while Corona is facing eight counts of perjury and eight counts of violation of Section 11 of Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713).

Corona was also charged with violation of RA 6713 for not filing true and detailed SALNs for 2003-2010, when the value of his declared cash assets and the actual bank deposits had substantial discrepancies and his real assets in Makati, Taguig and Quezon City were not declared.

Morales said the P130,336,212.88 of supposed ill-gotten wealth is a conservative estimate as it does not include the Coronas’ cost of living allowance commensurate to their social stature and expenses entailed by their travels abroad. (Sunnex)

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