By Raïssa Robles
This contradicts the statement earlier made by Chief Justice Renato Corona’s lead lawyer that his client was still paying installment on his luxury condo to this day.
A Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officer told me he personally signed a document in late 2009 which assumed that CJ Corona had fully paid up for his purchase of a 303.5 square meter penthouse and three 12.5 sq m parking space in Bellagio Tower 1 at The Fort.
“Ya, I think I signed the CAR (Certificate Authorizing Registration)” of the property in the name of CJ Corona and his wife Cristina, Makati Revenue District Officer Gerry Dumayas told me in an interview.
Dumayas confirmed he signed the certificate while he was the Revenue District Officer in charge of Taguig where The Fort is located.
I asked him if a CAR is only issued by the BIR once a unit is fully paid up.
That’s the assumption. Because one of the documents that has to be submitted (to the BIR before a CAR can be issued) is the Deed of Absolute Sale. A corporate developer will not issue (to the buyer) a Deed of Absolute Sale if the property is not fully paid up. Maliban lang kung may usapan sila. Madalang yon. Maaring hindi nangyayari. Nasa usapan nila yon.
Ang assumption ng BIR, bayad pag nag-request ng issuance of the CAR. Bayad yung binili.
He said the CAR is the final step before a buyer can register the property in his name with the Registry of Deeds.
Dumayas confirmed that he issued and signed the CAR for Corona’s property on December 17, 2009.
The following month, on January 25, 2010, four Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT) were issued in the name of “spouses Cristina Corona and Renato Corona, both of legal age, Filipinos” according to documents made available to me.
But why was the selling price for CJ Corona & the taxes he paid so low?
I asked Dumayas these two questions that have puzzled me about this transaction.
Dumayas explained to me that he based the taxes imposed on CJ Corona’s property purchase on the amount of P14.5 million – or the price at which developer Megaworld Corporation had sold the unit to the Corona couple.
I pointed out to him that BIR’s zonal valuation at The Fort was already at P100,000 per square meter at that time, while the zonal valuation he gave to CJ Corona’s unit was P6.8 million or only P21,021 per sq m.
Dumayas’ reply stunned me. He said that zonal valuation pertained only to the land at The Fort. Only the land there was covered by a zonal valuation issued by the BIR Commissioner:
Wala kaming zonal valuation pa sa mga bagong condo sa Taguig at that time (in late 2009).
Wala pang zonal value (for condos at The Fort) even at this time. I have already made a proposal that zonal values be revised. I submitted this in 2010.
To this day, he said, his proposal has not been acted upon.
He explained that in the absence of an official zonal valuation issued by the BIR Commissioner for condos at The Fort, the law requires the BIR to base computation of the tax on: the selling price of the property or the market/zonal value in the “tax declaration issued by the Assessor’s Office of Taguig City.”
Dumayas said that because the tax declaration for CJ Corona’s condo unit was lower than the selling price, then he used the selling price as basis for computing the documentary stamp tax and withholding tax.
I asked him why he did not question such a low selling price when other comparable condo units at that time were then selling at much higher prices. I told him that a realty broker and a source at a propoerty research firm separately told me that the average selling price of a condo unit at that time CJ Corona had bought his property was around P80,000 per sq m.
Kasi hindi naman namin puwedeng puwersahin. Oo nga, naririnig namin sa labas – yung selling ganito – but we have to rely on the documents being submitted.
And those are: the stated selling price and the tax declaration, he said.
I asked Dumayas when CJ Corona would have had to declare the property in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN – at the time of the purchase or the registration of the property in his name?
Dumayas said this would have to be declared in the CJ’s 2009 SALN that would have been submitted in the year 2010.
Taguig’s tax assessor explains reason for their low tax declaration
In a separate interview, Engineer Roberto Villaluz, who heads the City Assessor’s Office of Taguig, confirmed to me that indeed, their zonal valuation was THAT LOW for buildings at The Fort – only P19,200 per square meter – since 2008.
He said this is based on City Ordinance No. 47 or the Schedule of Fair Market Values for Improvement and Machineries.
This is the basis used by the city for computing the real property taxes due yearly, he said.
Whenever someone buys property, his office issues a “Tax Declaration” that is then submitted to the BIR for the issuance of a CAR, he said.
Villaluz also said that if CJ Corona has a Deed of Absolute Sale, then he has fully paid for the property:
If there is a Deed of Absolute Sale, that means the property has been fully paid. Or has been paid by the buyer.
I asked Villaluz what document could indicate that amortization was still being paid on the property. He said it would be a “Deed of Conditional Sale” drawn up between seller and buyer.
What CJ Corona’s lead lawyer said about the luxury condo
Last Monday, CJ Corona’s lead lawyer Serafin Cuevas insisted to the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the Corona couple were still amortizing the unit.
The Inquirer report said:
We already discussed that in our answer (to the articles of impeachment). We are not hiding anything. Until now, that is not yet fully paid,” he said.
Cuevas, however, admitted that he had yet to see the documents pertaining to the ownership of the Bellagio unit, saying: “If the Chief Justice was an ordinary person, I would have asked him to give me the documents.”
“But I believe he will give me all those things. We assume that when he told his lawyers that he was still paying for that, it was accurate and true.”
In today’s ABS-CBN News story, Cuevas said new allegations can no longer be raised in CJ Corona’s impeachment trial, such as the Bellagio property allegedly being given as a “gift” to him in exchange for a favorable court decision.
This was in reference to Corona’s purchase of the Bellagio condo from a corporation for which he had penned a favorable court decision in 2004.
However, some of my commenters have raised the issue whether CJ Corona also enjoyed immunity from criminal prosecution like the Philippine President during his tenure.
That’s a thought.
The Constitution is silent on this particular matter.
Realty broker: Corona’s posh condo “a steal” at P14 million
Cash gifts & car plans – COA report shows what Corona’s wife did as a GMA appointee
“To dream,the impossible dream………..to reach the unreachable………..SALN”.
Dedicated to CJ Corona.good luck.
Noreen Gonzaga says
A deed of absolute sale may be issued by the developer when the property is taken out on a loan from a third party lending institution such as, but not limited to, PAGIBIG or a bank. A deed of absolute sale shall then be issued by the seller in favor of the buyer since the property will have been paid in full as far as the seller is concerned, though the payment is largely/partially made by the lender. The lender, in turn, will have the original copy of the OCT/TCT and will have such OCT/TCT annotated by the LRA stating that the lender has claims in the property, and hence, cannot be sold by buyer/owner without concurrence by lender. The deed of absolute sale filed with the BIR for tax purposes cannot be used as a basis for assuming that the property in question is not mortgaged to a third party. Hence, a buyer who has taken out a property loan from a bank and is paying for the property in installments will actually have received a deed of absolute sale but can nevertheless claim that the property is yet to be paid in full because it is mortgaged to the lender.
No, I am not an expert on the issue but i am explaining based on personal experience.
To Ms. Raissa: Thank you for sharing your very good work with us. The thoughts, ideas and opinions here are very enlightening, a learning with everyone here. I have some given here but this I should extend before any further from me, my thanks to you and the rest of the contributors here. May we find the truth always.
wag muna NOW…let’s wait ’till Monday..2 tulugan na lang and everybody is watching..
calling saxnviolin…where are you?? haven’t hear your brilliant comments anymore….
Johnny lin says
saxnviolins has brilliant ideas though he was off target in his 3 conclusions that the articles of impeachment were rushed, no new evidences would not be accepted, and SALN article 2 with ill gotten wealth did not have substance. The first two were proven wrong by Senate trial today and ill gotten wealth was mentioned by, prosecution mentioning 6 accumulated unexplained wealth of Corona whereas defense refererred to them as irrelevant to the impeachment which was really an astonishing defense statement based on graft and corruption as impeachable offense.
@saxnviolins, we miss you.
At least your post/comment came thru (to date), it was in good stead that you remembered your alter ego!
Hey @saxnviolins, where are you now?
mark san pablo says
May I also contradict former SC justice and Corona’s chief defense lawyer’s assertion that “new allegations can no longer be raised in CJ Corona’s impeachment trial, such as the Bellagio property…” Lest the former Justice has forgotten, the documents released by the House prosecutors are NOT NEW allegations–they are NEW EVIDENCE of matters raised in the Articles of Impeachment. In Article II, 2.4 of the Impeachment Complaint, it is clearly stated that “It has been reported that Respondent has, AMONG OTHERS, a 300-sq. meter apartment in a posh Mega World Property development at the Fort in Taguig…”
So, based on the Complaint, even the 40-plus properties recently discovered by the prosecutors are still safely covered and included in the Articles of Impeachment.
mark san pablo says
Another excellent work, Raissa. You’re right, the 1987 Constitution is silent on immunity from suits of the President, Vice President, Justices of the Supreme Court, heads of constitutional commissions and bodies. Only the Members of Congress are immune from libel suits for statements made in a privilege speech. The immunity of the President, however, is expressly stated by jurisprudence which, according to the Civil Code (Art. 8), “forms a part of the legal system of the Philippines.” In the case of In re: Bermudez, (1986), the Supreme Court expressly held that, _Incumbent presidents are immune from suit or from being brought to court during the period of their incumbency and tenure._
All other officials, Supreme Court justices included, are not immune from suits even during their tenure of office.
boy kiamko says
it seems that the truth has finally surfaced…corona and company lied about “paying the condo unit by installment”…isn’t this a case of perjury once he says this under oath? the challenge: is he willing to say it, in the senate?
Thank you Raissa for such an enlightening blog.
Truly the Impeachment Trial is democracy at work.
Maybe the Chief Justice will be able to survive this one considering his exalted position and people behind him, including the Senators or those closed to these senators, who might have incurred debts of gratitude to him. To think, he has been a ranking official for the past twenty years and surely he has bestowed so many favors all this time.
This is I believe is the reason why he is keen on fighting it out. The numbers are not yet final. All he needs is 8 votes. If the Supreme Court has the Arroyo 8, who knows the CJ might be able to get an Arroyo 8 also in the senate.
Those who have fight it out for the Arroyos have taken different steps in facing their woes. Ombudsman Gutierrez resigned, Secretary Reyes committed harakiri and now the CJ is fighting it out. He could win the hearts of 8 senators and be acquitted. But surely he will not remain unscathed in the aftermath.
By submitting himself to the process, it will be good for the country but will be very bad for the CJ even if he will be acquitted.
The impeachment trial could be now a venue for the prosecutors, people like Raissa, the media to dig and look evidence such as these, all in the spirit of seeking the truth sans fear of reprisals from the CJ himself. This fear is also no longer present even to the sources of these evidence since all they need to do is justify their act by saying ” we can’t do nothing, it is within the process of impeachment”.
The CJ could no longer accuse these people of conducting a fishing expedition or putting him in a compromising situation for he has already set the bait by submitting himself in the process of impeachment,
Therefore, even if acquitted, the prosecutors, Raissa and the like or even the senators, will surely be able to unearth more of the CJ’s properties, with accompanying body of evidence that could be now obtained through subpoena or if not voluntarily given or researched using the prosecution’s resources. These could now be used for a stronger impeachment case next year.
With the resources at their disposal, the prosecution team will be able to establish money trail and obtain bank records of the CJ. All they need to do is traced the form of payment to these properties and chances are they will get the lead to establish the paper trail. If Raissa was able to do it on her own, how much more these prosecutors with all the resources of the House at their disposal not to mention the support of the Executive branch such as the BIR, the LRA, the LTO and even the clearing house for all bank checks issued by the Coronas.
So I say, NO TO RESIGNATION! Let us see how good the prosecutors are in digging these leads.
Let the Pandora’s Box be fully opened.
Considering 8 votes for acquittal out of 23, Mr. Corona may just be lucky to get this number. But as one of the bloggers here said, “He is just the same damaged already.” Even without this events unfolding, the high Court and the justices are already damaged in the past and more so now. It will do so much to bring back the honesty and prestige of the Court and its members for many years to come. How to solve this in so short a period of time? It’s the call of the present members, a call for statesmanship in many ways and forms, but they have to do make such a call for country and people and the rule of law.
If I were a member of the Court, who am I compared to the Court and the Judiciary? I am so small but the Court is so big and more important. Will it not be proper for me to protect the Court, its integrrity and prestige, being a part of it? Yes, it is. So, the parts (other members) should follow the rule: protect the main by the parts. That is an act of sacrifice for good and honorable people. We, as members of the Court is presently at “war” with ourselves. We must stop it and do the correct and honorable thing as the first good example. That way, we leave a good mark, a good starting point from thereon.
Nakakatakot isipin kung ano ang magiging katatayuan ng ating Kataas-taasang Hukuman at ng pagtupad at pagpapatupad ng ating batas kung si Corona ay hindi paaalisin ng “Impeachment Court”. Hayagan nang sinasabi na walang hustisya sa ating bansa.
Bagama’t kung maaalis si Corona ay hindi pa rin maaalis ang sakit sa “bayaran” sa hukuman ang pagpapatalsik sa kanya ay magbibigay ng hudyat na may pag-asa pa ang Pilipinas, na marami pa rin sa atin ang hindi manhid at hindi makasarili o sakim.
Nawa ang pagbabago ay magsimula sa bawat isa sa atin. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.
at DAPAT ay maging MATALINO ang mga boboto sa mga susunod na mamamahala ang ating mga sangay ng pamahalaan. TAYONG MGA MAMAMAYAN DIN ANG MAY KASALANAN BAKIT ANG BANSA NATIN AY NAGING GANITO. NAGPASILAW TAYO SA MGA PANGAKO AT LAGAY NG MGA IBINOTO NATING MGA OPISYAL NG ATING PAMAHALAAN. SANA’M MATUTO NA TAYO SA ATING DINADANAS NGAYON. PASALAMAT TAYO AT MAY ISANG NAKALUKLOK NA MALAKAS ANG LOOB NA LINISIN ANG BANSA NATIN HINDI MAN LUBOS NA KALINISAN AY MABABAWASAN ANG DUMI NG ATING BANSA.SALAMAT SA DIOS.
my only wish sana hindi niya gayahin si Angelo Reyes para harapin niya ang kanyang case. i think if he’s guilty, it may give justice sa lahat ng tao.
eric javier says
I have been following your blog. Congratulations and keep up the good work… Nothing beats a well researched article. Thanks for the hard work you are doing for the Filipinos. Please check all the justices, judges who have been travelling abroad flying business class in Philippine Airlines. You might get a clue… Thanks.
Hmm. Are you trying to tell me something?