Hold departure order issued vs Corona, Singson

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Friday, April 25, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- The Sandiganbayan Third Division issued Friday a hold departure order (HDO) against former Chief Justice Renato Corona and former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson.

The Sandiganbayan issued the order directing the Bureau of Immigration (BI) not to allow Corona and Singson from leaving the country while their respective cases are pending.

Corona has been barred from leaving the country in connection with the ill-gotten wealth and perjury charges filed against him for alleged non-declaration of his true wealth and correct income tax returns (ITRs).

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales previously asked the anti-graft court to issue a writ of preliminary attachment that will effectively freeze all the assets of the Corona and his wife, including their peso and dollar deposits in different banks and real estate properties.

The Ombudsman also found probable cause to indict the Coronas of eight perjury charges and eight counts of violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713).

Corona and his wife, Cristina, though, recently asked the Supreme Court to block the cases filed by the Ombudsman, saying it has built an "erroneous finding" to prosecute them.

"The Ombudsman’s blatant disregard of the law and facts surrounding this case is a serious, if not dangerous and oppressive, error calling for (High Court’s) supervisory power to uphold the legal doctrine that 'it is better for one hundred criminals to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted,'" the petition read.

The Coronas said that the Ombudsman's reliance on illegally obtained bank certifications where they allegedly had "substantial peso and dollar deposits" could not be used as basis of probable cause to issue warrants of arrest against them.

The petition also pointed out that the bank certifications were neither provided nor attached to the complaints. [Read more about Corona's petition.]

Singson, on the other hand, is facing charges of malversation of public funds in connection with his alleged misuse of the P26-million share of his province in the tobacco excise tax in 2001. [Read more.]

BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison immediately issued an order pursuant to the HDO issued by the anti-graft court.

"All duty officers and supervisors are directed to implement said order and prevent the subjects from leaving the country," Mison said in statement.

In both orders dated April 15 and was only released to media only on Friday, the anti-graft court directed the BI to hold the departure from the Philippines of the accused "to preserve and maintain the effectiveness of its jurisdiction over the cases and the persons of the accused at all times amenable to its writs and processes."

The Sandiganbayan said the HDO is part of their process to make sure that the people who have pending cases will appear during the hearings set by the anti-graft court. (PNA/John Carlo Cahinhinan/FP/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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