By Raïssa Robles
Examining for the first time the official disclosures of Chief Justice Renato Corona regarding his worldly wealth, I am reminded of this bible verse from Luke, Chapter 16, verse 10:
If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
Honesty is one attribute most expected of a government official, especially the chief magistrate. Honesty is enshrined in Philippine law – Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for public officials and employees
The bible verse rose to mind when I realized what was NOT contained in CJ Corona’s Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) – aside from the gross understatement of his assets that other journalists have written about.
In CJ Corona’s SALN filed for 2002 – the year he was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court – he never disclosed the fact that his wife was also appointed that same year by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sit in the board of a government-owned and controlled corporation, the John Hay Management Corporation.
For the next five years – from 2003 up to 2006 – Cristina Corona sat on that board. And yet Associate Justice Corona’s SALNs for those years never disclosed that fact.
This was only declared starting 2007 onward.
But the public only learned that the associate justice’s wife was also a government official in mid-2010 when this was raised as a reason for blocking Corona’s nomination to the post of Chief Justice. Critics then pointed out that John Hay had pending labor cases in court and that placed the wanna-be chief justice in a conflict of interest situation.
At that time, it was Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez who told the public that Mrs Corona was appointed by then President Arroyo to the John Hay board in 2002. She was appointed Chairman of the same board in 2007.
In fact Marquez said Mrs Corona had long been employed by John Hay since the 1990s.
It was only in 2007 that Associate Justice Corona started disclosing the fact that his wife was in government, too, when she became quite controversial.
You can examine all his SALNs by first downloading them from here.
Some readers would probably say – so what? It’s not a crime not to disclose THAT.
Unfortunately, under Philippine law, it is. The Philippine Constitution states in Article XI, Section 17:
A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.
The law on SALN is in Section 8 of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethics for all those in government:
SECTION 8. Statements and Disclosure. — Public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.
(A) Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Financial Disclosure. — All public officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, laborers and casual or temporary workers, shall file under oath their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and a Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections and those of their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.
(B) Identification and disclosure of relatives. — It shall be the duty of every public official or employee to identify and disclose, to the best of his knowledge and information, his relatives in the Government in the form, manner and frequency prescribed by the Civil Service Commission.
In fact, the SALN specifically asked the filer CJ Corona the following question in his SALN filed for the year 2006:
CJ Corona was asked the same question in his SALNs for 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. He also wrote N/A – which I would surmise means “Not Applicable”. All those years he never bothered to disclose a very material fact – his own wife was in government, too. He disclosed his brother and cousin, though.
Should CJ Corona be exempted from following RA 6713?
This enabling law states in particular the following penalties for violating Section 8 or the filing of the SALN:
Violations of Sections 7, 8 or 9 of this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos (P5,000), or both, and, in the discretion of the court of competent jurisdiction, disqualification to hold public office.
I don’t know if this is covered under the current impeachment trial.
What I know is that shortly after CJ Corona assumed the post of Chief Justice, he delivered a speech at the Hotel Intercon on June 24, 2010 before the Manila Overseas Press Club headed by Tony Lopez. [Full disclosure – Tony Lopez and I used to write once for the same news magazine, Asiaweek.]
CJ Corona’s speech – which I downloaded from the Supreme Court website – is entitled “the Role of the Press in Advancing Judicial Reform.”
In this speech, CJ Corona said:
A corrupt judiciary is totally unacceptable as it severely handicaps the legal and institutional mechanism designed to curb abuses in government. As such we shall continuously cleanse the court’s ranks by strengthening the integrity of the judiciary and raising it to the highest level possible. I believe that a member of the judiciary who is found guilty of dishonesty should not only be dismissed from the service but also disbarred. No ifs, no buts.
Does he really mean what he said?
Will he now walk his talk?
Jumbo Pascual says
What we should be looking at also is the PHP11 million liabilities. In the first place if this so called Cash Advance from her wife’s family corporation is true, it is improper and unethical. Corona is not entitled to this personal loan especially knowing now that there were financial disputes among the owners of his wife’s company. Taking the SALN at face value, the loan obviously was used to buy properties and was also repaid. The other side of this cash advance story is its a cover up for some huge cash coming in which cannot be explained. By concocting a loan story, the amount of cover up actually became double or PHP22 Million.
To illustrate – Corona received PHP11 Million and he used it to buy properties, therefore the original PHP11 Million is already gone and converted to Real Properties in the SALN. Then Corona repaid the loan by installment but still in huge chunks. The money obviously did not come from Corona’s regular income because his earnings are simply not enough. Again the story of paying off a loan is a cover up for huge money coming in which cannot be explained (where did it come from?). The liability angle in ingenious because few people are really interested in liabilities. However it is clearly a cover up for PHP22 Million, the PHP11 Million became included as real properties and the other PHP11 Million gets reported as paying off the loan. The total amount of cover up transaction was PHP22 Million, obviously a cover up for unexplained source of income.
Looking at the SALN in relation to the advance – real properties increased by PHP11 Million and net worth increased again by paying off the loan, so the real benefit really is PHP22 Million because the money used to pay the loan came from outside not from resources already in the assets of Corona. If the PHP11 Million loan was used to buy properties and then the properties sold later to pay off the loan, then this would have been believable (even if they gained some extra earnings on the sides, its just like short selling of stocks). The thing is the value of the PHP11 Million remained in the SALN as Real Properties so the money used to pay the loan clearly came from somewhere else.
Clever as they seem, these loan story must be verified. Paper trail must be there if these are legit transactions. The check in the name of Renato Corona for the loan release, the board resolution, the payment voucher, the acknowledgement of receipt and all other pertinent documents must be in the corporate’s records. In the same manner, the checks issued by Corona to the company to repay the loan must be traced also, including the Official Receipt issued by the company to receive the payment. These are huge transactions so records should be there to prove that it is true.
Not reporting that his wife is also working for the government may be justified with another story, its unintentional with no malice intent (the favorite of Cuevas). But the loan cover up story is deliberate, it was included there as a smoke screen for unexplained wealth. It was maliciously included there with the intention to deceive. Corona would not have known that he will be impeached so he thought the loan story have already passed scrutiny. Who would want to verify it anyway, the loan story appears to be reasonable as he used to say always, “we are not a family of ordinary means”. The SALN’s were filed, so what more can be asked of him. Except for the kiss of death which he did not see coming from GMA, anointing in controversial fashion to become the next Chief Justice. Maybe, it is really divine intervention.
If this loan angle is not deliberated and forensically verified, its a pity really but at least we now know its all concoctions, no way this loan story can be true.
Si Corona ay kamukha ng isang matayug na puno na walang namang lilim. Ang puno ng niyog tignan mo’t mataas, pero kaka-unti kung magbigay ng lilim.
Anmg asawa lang niya ang masaya sa kanya.
Tungkol sa tinatanong kanina sa witness kung magkano ang closing balance ng deposit. Sa kaalaman ng LAHAT, ang closing balance ng Time Deposit ay pareho o kaya mas malaki sa Opening Balance. Kung closed yong account on or before maturity, the Time Deposit Amount does not change, in difference with a Savings accounts which allows depsoits and withdrawal. Ang Time Deposit ay Single amount lang hanggang sa closing ng account. Now, kung nagkaroon ng renewal or extension, normally, papalitan yong CTD Certificate at idinadagdag yong interest, yong ang tawag na roll-over, at nag-iisuw ng bagong Time Depsosit Certificate. Kapag binayaran naman ng Time Deposit ng Managers check(normal tan sa mga banks) malalaman ang info tungkol kung saang banko deniposit yong Managers check at makikita rin yong name or account number ng depositor sa likod (endorement ang tawag). Sana mabasa ng prosecution team itong blog ko.
Read related news: Wife’s ‘assets’ not in Corona’s SALN – prosecutors | ABS-CBN News
Rod Fermin says
A relative who has a friend working at Security Bank told me today that a daughter of Chief Justice Corona withdrew a total of more than P100 million pesos when the possibility of impeachment started to be floated around. Is there any way to confirm this? Any “little women” out there?
@Karim, Raissa’s blog is all over the media already. I am sure all the prosecutors and their researchers had already been exhausting the articles here. We don’t need to send it to them, they are now finding their way here. The same as the entire defense panel, they had been digging in here. Which side of the trap is being set? Why did you remove the link of the blogsite on your comment? hmmmm…. makes me wonder. Raissa, this article might have been bugged already….. hmmmm…. makes me wonder some more. :D
Karim Buwaya says
Can you please help the prosecution? Send to all the prosecutors including the private prosecutors helping them – “http://raissarobles.com/2012/01/19/cj-coronas-salns-only-declared-his-wife-was-in-government-post-in-2007/”
Vic Ongasis says
Famous last words:
x Sa aking administrasyon, walang kaibigan, walang kumpare, walang kamag-anak.
xx I believe that a member of the judiciary who is found guilty of dishonesty should not only be dismissed from the service but also disbarred. No ifs, no buts.
Raïssa, YOU MIGHT BE SUMMONed or INVITEed TO SPEAK IN THE SENATE IMPEACHMENT FOR ARTICLE 7.
Prosecutors want justices, journalists summoned
“MANILA, Philippines – Prosecutors are now preparing to present their case on article 7 of the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona. They want to subpoena several journalists, justices and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, among others, as witnesses.”
“… blogger Raissa Robles who they want to testify, among others, on the close personal relationship between Corona and GMA;”
Source: Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 01/27/2012 12:17 PM |
Vic Ongasis says
”You can be quite accurate in what you say and at the same time be quite dishonest in what you imply.”-Dr. Robert Cook
yOU HAVE TO BE more specific than that.
WHERE is the dishonesty?
And pls read myh follow-up piece
Vic Ongasis says
Hi, didn’t mean it for you but for the CJ. cheers!
AUGUST C FERNANDO says
First time I saw Sen. Miriam Santiago in court. Ganun pala un. When I was in New York (1983-2006), all I knew about her was her brilliance (daw) and that downer BRENDAMAGE monicker. Sure she is brilliant, an expert in constitutional law whatever… but with what I saw on the 6th day of Impeachment Trial, all my respect and admiration for this woman vanished into thin air. Such boorish manner and cantankerous deportment. How she looked down on her fellow attorneys (prosec lawyer Lim and BIR comm Henares). Akala mo siya ang Court Goddess. She treats everyone like her minion, subject, subaltern. She’s hallucinating like a mad woman. If the proceedings are shown abroad, it’s so embarrassing for her… and she makes me feel embarrassed too as a Filipino. CLEAN UP YOUR ACT, MIRIAM!
Odadsoid Osacnab says
May tama ka! Sabi ng marami, nagkasayad daw noong natalo (daw) ni FVR!
raissa, can i share a part of your blog in my facebook account? thanks
In fact, pls share it with all your friends and relatives.
I’d totally appreciate it.
In fact Marquez said Mrs Corona had long been employed by John Hay since the 1990s. —
if this statement is correct. why is it that Ms Corona got his TIN only in 2003? (as testified by BIR commissioner Kim)
Ramses Sales says
Just on the basis of the SALNs of CJ Coronna which were provided by the Clerk of the Supreme Court and which you made available, it is very obvious that he failed to disclose all of his assets for many years.
His SALN for 2010 shows that he declared that he has a condominium in Taguig which he claims he acquired in 2003. However, his SALNs for the years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 do not reflect said Taguig Condominium unit.
Same thing which the Makati condominium unit reflected in his 2010 SALN which he claims was acquired in 2004. His SALNs for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 do not reflect the said Makati condominium unit.
Clearly, on the basis of his own filings (SALNs) and without even looking at the documents provided by the Registrar of Deeds of Taguig, Quezon City and Marikina as well as his family’s income tax returns, it is obvious that he under declared his assets for many years. He is likewise obviously guilty of perjury, at the very least.