Overseas properties & foreign currency should all be disclosed
A Plaza Miranda Exclusive
By Raïssa Robles
Justices of the Supreme Court as well as police and military generals should disclose their assets to the public, said the head of the independent agency overseeing such disclosures.
Civil Service Commission Chairman Francisco Duque told me in an exclusive interview:
The Supreme Court (justices) should also rescind their order that their SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) is limited to the Supreme Court (because) there is nothing in the law that says that.
CSC is constitutionally mandated to ensure all government officials and employees not only make proper declarations through their SALNs but also enable the public – through the media – to scrutinize these.
Duque made this statement as Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez announced that the justices would have to meet first to decide whether or not to release the latest SALN of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona to the impeachment court.
Duque noted the impact of Corona’s ongoing impeachment trial on SALN disclosures:
Serendipitously, a lot of good things may come out of this trial. For one, it has raised the awareness or consciousness of the public on SALNs as an instrument of transparency in government service.
I asked Duque whether or not SALNs should enumerate even the real properties abroad owned by government officials and employees. He replied:
Foreign real property, yes. The acquisition cost must be put…the improvements and the location.
In other words, he explained to me, foreign real properties must be declared in the very same way that real properties in the Philippines are declared.
I also asked Duque whether any assets in foreign currencies such as dollars or euros ought to be declared as well in SALNs. Duque replied:
The equivalent (of the assets) in pesos is what is being asked. Hindi yung foreign currency. Dapat in pesos, so you multiply it (the foreign currency asset) by the current exchange rate.
This means that if we follow Duque’s explanations, CJ Corona should have declared in his 2011 SALN which he submitted last April 30 any foreign real estate property and the value of all his foreign currency deposits here and abroad IN PESO TERMS.
Why justices clamped down on disclosures
Duque told me he had recently read why the SC justices had clamped down over 20 years ago on the public disclosure of SALNs of any member of the judiciary branch of government.
He said a certain Jose Alejandrino had asked for the SALNs of all the SC justices. The justices learned that Alejandrino had intended to leak the information to a litigant with a pending court case.
Nevertheless, Duque said:
I see no reason why it should not be disclosed. Media should be given access to it. That is in Section 8 of Republic Act 6713.
Duque was referring to the following paragraphs of RA 6713 or the public officials’ Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards. RA 6713 is the enabling law that gives life to Article XI, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution which requires all public servants to fill up SALNs and disclose these to the public “in the manner provided by law”.
RA 6713 specifically directs the disclosure of SALNs in the following manner:
(C) Accessibility of documents. —
(1) Any and all statements filed under this Act, shall be made available for inspection at reasonable hours.
(2) Such statements shall be made available for copying or reproduction after ten (10) working days from the time they are filed as required by law.
(3) Any person requesting a copy of a statement shall be required to pay a reasonable fee to cover the cost of reproduction and mailing of such statement, as well as the cost of certification.
(4) Any statement filed under this Act shall be available to the public for a period of ten (10) years after receipt of the statement. After such period, the statement may be destroyed unless needed in an ongoing investigation.
I asked Duque whether military and police generals were exempted from such yearly SALN disclosure because I cannot recall the SALN of any general being disclosed annually. Duque said such disclosure was also enshrined in Article XI of the 1987 Constitution which states in:
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.” [NOTE: Bold face supplied]
A bit of SALN history
Since the first law on SALNs was enacted in 1960 – or over half a century ago – Filipinos have not paid enough attention to these documents and government officials and employees have been more than happy to bury SALNs within the darkest confines of bureaucracy.
It was the political ambition of a sitting Philippine president which prompted the passage of RA 3019, requiring public officials to file SALNs for the first time.
Carlos P. Garcia wanted to be the first reelectionist Philippine president. But one year before his term ended, the electorate had become disillusioned because “graft and corruption in high and low places continued to plague society resulting in the loss of revenues to the government,” according to historians Teodoro Agoncillo and Milagros Guerrero in their book, History of the Filipino People.
To neutralize the corruption issue being hurled against him by his own vice-president, Diosdado Macapagal, Garcia backed Congress’ approval of RA 3019.
It was the country’s first comprehensive Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. It branded as crimes such rampant political practices as the giving of “manifestly excessive” presents even during birthdays, weddings or fiestas. The law, however, did not quantify what a “manifestly excessive” gift was.
RA 3019 also introduced an anti-corruption tool – the mandatory yearly filing of a SALN by everyone in government. Again, though, this law was sloppily followed because lawmakers had provided a large loophole in the law. There was no way of counter-checking whether the law was being followed because public disclosure of SALNs was not required.
It would take Congress 26 more years and the bitter experience of a rapacious dictatorial government to close that loophole. After the dictator Ferdinand Marcos fled in 1986 leaving behind a bankrupt treasury, a new Constitution was ratified. It enshrined the filing of SALNs but left it to Congress to pass an enabling law to spell out the manner of public disclosure.
That enabling law was approved two years later in 1989 as RA 6713. This spelled out the manner of disclosure through the media. It gave media unprecedented access to these documents for the first time, but subject to certain conditions. Most importantly, it entitled the media – as the public’s eyes and ears – to disseminate what was written in the SALNs.
Quietly, though, the Supreme Court issued a resolution exempting one entire branch of government or the judiciary from the constitutional and legal requirements of SALN disclosures. How the justices were able to do this is a puzzle.
Perhaps, at that time even media did not realize the full value of SALNs.
My experience testing SALN disclosure laws
In recent weeks, I was inadvertently able to test the SALN disclosure laws when I tried to obtain the SALN of presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
This was after my attention was called by a US-based Fil-Am lawyer regarding the existence of certain California properties purportedly belonging to another senior Philippine government official besides Corona.
Curious as to what else he could turn up, I asked the lawyer – whom I will call Steve – to look up as well any real properties belonging to close aides of President Benigno Aquino III, who are at the forefront of an anti-corruption campaign. For good measure, I also asked Steve to look for any properties owned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (CJ Corona’s Supreme Court colleague and school mate), since I had earlier received a tip that some Malacanang Palace aides of President Fidel V. Ramos once bought properties in Florida. It was Carpio who had recruited Corona into the Ramos administration.
Steve did not find any US properties in the name of Florencio Abad (the Department of Budget Secretary) and Paquito Ochoa (the Executive Secretary). But he found US properties in the name of an Edwin Lacierda, a Ramon Carandang and an Antonio Carpio.
Steve and I were able to discount the name of Justice Carpio as the Antonio Carpio owning a California property because the name of the wife in the California property record did not match the name of Justice Carpio’s wife, whom I learned was Vietnamese.
As for matching the Ramon Carandang in the California property records with Communications Strategist Secretary Ramon “Ricky” Carandang, the process was harder. No one I talked to knew the name of Secretary Carandang’s wife. So I had to ask Secretary Carandang himself. Again, his wife’s name did not match what was in the California property record.
I also asked Carandang whether he owned any property in the US. He replied:
I have no property (in the US) at all.
Validating Edwin Lacierda’s US property
Secretary Lacierda was listed as a co-owner in a condo unit in California:
When I asked him whether he and his wife owned it, Secretary Lacierda replied:
It’s all disclosed in my SALN last year. It’s a time-sharing apartment. I disclosed my property, my wife’s property. I have nothing to hide.
I acquired it when I was a private individual. A long time ago – It was my one-half share. We halved with my sister-in-law. The property is more of my wife’s. My time sharing unit is all there (in my SALN). That was disclosed in my first SALN (2010). I think PCIJ (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism) has a copy of my SALN. My SALN has already been scrutinized by Malou Mangahas.
I wanted to counter-check what he said. I asked Malou Mangahas about Lacierda’s SALN. She advised me to get my own copy.
I tried to get my own copy of Secretary Lacierda’s SALN.
I phoned the Malacanang Records Office, which officially releases these documents. They were very nice about it. But they told me I could not e-mail them my request since they had “no computer”. They told me I could also not fax my request to them since their fax machine was broken.
They were willing, though, for me to send my letter-request via a messenger service.
I had to find an easier way. Glenda Gloria of Rappler-Newsbreak agreed to help and obtain for me a copy of Secretary Lacierda’s SALN from the Malacanang Records Office. In return, I told Glenda she could upload this story onto their website. I would also like to thank Rey Santos Jr. who physically obtained the SALN for Newsbreak-Rappler. No joke, in this heat.
Secretary Lacierda was telling the truth. He did disclose his California property in his 2010 SALN. I have placed a red dot beside the disclosures. See below –
He declared in his SALN that his time-sharing portion cost him P202,500 (or around US$5,066.00 at the exchange rate then of P39.97).
However, he listed this under “Personal and Other Properties” and not under “Real Properties”.
The problem with SALNs
I asked CSC Chair Duque about this. He said the problem was that while a form was prescribed for SALN disclosures, people tended not to follow this. He added:
Agencies can formulate their own guidelines but they cannot deviate too much from what is said in the law.
Would putting SALNs online violate the law?
For transparency and easy access, why can’t the Office of the President simply put SALNs of cabinet and other senior officials who submit to them online, I asked Undersecretary Manolo Quezon. This would include military officers from the rank of colonel and naval captain.
What Usec Quezon said surprised me:
My personal understanding is, the existing rules do not allow it.
Usec Quezon said the Civil Service Commission had issued guidelines on SALN disclosures and these have to be followed. [*NOTE: I have included at the end of this article links pertaining to SALNs that were provided by @Baycas, one of the members of Our Cyber Plaza Miranda, the growing community of Filipinos here and abroad who congregate in this site.Thank you, @Baycas.]
Usec Quezon said that to enable the Office of the President to upload SALNs online,
We need to pass an FOI (Freedom of Information law) for mandatory online publication. That explains why we put it in the FOI.
I asked a University of the Philippines law professor about this. My source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, agreed with Quezon’s view and added that government officials could even impose conditions on how their SALNs would be made public.
I asked Chairman Duque if that was his understanding of the law. He said there was nothing in the law that would prevent Malacanang from posting SALNs online.
Duque disclosed that due to different interpretations on how to fill up SALNs and disclose their contents to the public, he would call a meeting of the various stakeholders soon:
We’re putting together a technical working committee. I will chair it personally. We will get representatives, including from the public sector labor union.
Duque also noted that the new SALN form that he had tried implementing this year was actually derived from RA3019, which was approved way back in 1960. This law states that aside from disclosing assets and liabilities, a SALN filer was required to state “the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year.”
Interestingly, in all the SALNs of top politicians I have seen through the years, I’ve never seen anyone disclose personal and family expenses and income taxes paid.
My first-hand experience in requesting for Secretary Lacierda’s SALN showed me that SALNs are not easy to obtain. Is there a conspiracy to make it difficult for citizens to find out about SALNs?
It also showed me how important SALNs could become as a tool for ferreting out unexplained wealth, if accomplished properly and disclosed publicly and on time.
Links pertaining to SALNs provided by @Baycas, who belongs to Our Plaza Miranda, a growing community of Filipinos here and abroad who congregate in this site :
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) had an old SALN form (1994) similar to what Chief Justice Corona and other justices used. Click here to download the old form.
Click here to download the accompanying instructions on filling up this form.
Click here to download the Memorandum Circular on the Review and Compliance Procedure in the filing and submission of the SALN (2006).
The CSC revised the old SALN form into one that would require a very detailed “baseline declaration.” But due to protests against it, its use was deferred in 2008. Click here to read the deferment. CSC Chair Duque tried to revive the new SALN form recently but many again protested. It remains deferred to this day.
Click here to download the PDF containing 2012 version of the Revised SALN form, which is now shelved for review.
RENATO’S RIGHT TO REMAIN
Louise Hawes wrote:
We don’t know if Renato Coronado Corona at any point in his life as Chief Justice that he wished he had not accepted his midnight appointment.
But any of us here must have known that he lied that he took the forbidden bite in May of 2010.
He did not acknowledge this as an original sin.
We never knew then that today we will once again dwell in the past in order to know what lies next week, in May of 2012.
Silence in law exempts an exception. J. Bersamin capitalized on this silence in the Constitution when he wrote de Castro vs. JBC. The appointment ban was nowhere to be found in the “Judiciary” part of the Constitution. Sans the ban, the SC ruling allowed gloria to appoint the next Chief Justice.
Relevant to Corona’s impeachment trial, R.A. 6713 is silent on what to do with foreign currency bank deposits in SALNs. This is gray area some lawyers would like to take advantage of.
Add to that is the fact that R.A. 6426 provides for the secrecy of foreign currency bank deposits.
The defense will capitalize on these points. Bold as it may seem, Corona’s lawyer Roy already advanced such an idea when he categorically said in reply to Senator Drilon:
In short, Corona will keep mum on the dollar accounts inasmuch as there was no substantiation of the Ombudsman’s testimony, which is only a secondhand information from the AMLC. As an excuse, the money in the dollar transactions that were reported were not really his.
Since the Foreign Currency Deposit Act stipulates confidentiality, the dollar deposits allegedly under Corona’s name will remain secret. Corona, the great debater, will just skirt the issue in Court whenever the unverified Ombudsman’s claim will be asked of him.
Knowing Cuevas (thus, Corona too), he will vehemently argue that the inherent individual rights enshrined in the Constitution takes precedence over all what is written in the 1987 version.
If you disregard the inherent rights of a Chief Justice, how much more can you trample upon the constitutional rights of ordinary Filipinos? That is what their camp is saying as they held Black Fridays in P. Faura.
In November of last year, Corona lectured (Read: lambasted) Solicitor General during oral arguments on the petition of gloria macapagal-arroyo questioning the government’s ban on her leaving the country:
Corona’s vigor of championing the rights of every Filipino citizen made him a hero in the recent past. He must now get involved with the gifts bestowed by the Constitution to each citizen. Five days are required to muster his strength.
Come next week, if he will truly place himself before the people, Renato Coronado Corona will demonstrate personally how one right is to be invoked when all excuses fail.
That one constitutional gift is the right to remain silent.
Excerpts from a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, now a columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
– # 123
About the other 3 complainants to appear at the Senate Impeachment? HEARSAY ang labas niyan.
For the pro,
condef panels (including Senate Judges) to question the Ombudsman about the complaints WITH OUT official reports from AMLC to support or authenticate the complaint details – HEARSAY din ang labas niyan.
BUT R Corona’s sitting at the SI witness box is an open fete day on other crucial Qs & As. That’s the bonus of the gutsy chess move, to sacrifice the Queen (OMB), to make the King err CJ R Corona to appear by Defense Lawyer Judd Roy.
Judd Roy’s move may well be the ‘Broken Arrow’ to suit everyone’s clamor to see R Corona in the witness box. BUT TO hear him speak volumes? That remains to be heard.
– # 123.8
When and should the Ombudsman sits to give her testimony, R Corona & his Impeachment Defense Team are keen to know how much, what materials and info the Ombudsman has gathered so far since Feb. this year.
Where else can a future defenCe person
canquestion his would-be Judge at a Political Court where the defense can ask what information, or better still – what evidences she may have to assist her further investigation, or proofs to warrant his culpability – while presently seating as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
– # 126.2
The ramification of the Ombudsman testifying at the Senate Impeachment is when she has the opportunity to charge R Corona when no longer in the Supreme Court. Any unsubstantiated amplification could back fire on her turf given the opportunity.
Unsolicited… just stick and stay
atwithin the four corners of your Lab Letter to R Corona. That’s a good script to share the contents of your letter while seated at the witness box.
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Sinu ang mau-unang uupo?
Watching the “guardians”
A quick review of Senator Santiago’s demeanour when the rep from the LTA was in the box vs her reaction when the sheriff was in, shows a big contrast. When the camera spanned and showed reactions of the senators during the sheriff’s testimony, their facial expressions and body language were quite telling.
It will be interesting to specifically watch Senator Defensor’s conduct when Corona sits in the box. Will she or will she not spring to action. Rivetting or annoying? May the truth come and the right thing prevail.
Bring Atty. Cynthia Rojas in.
@Max, who is Atty. Cynthia Rojas?
Atty. Cynthia Rojas was the prosecution lawyer for day 36.
A fellow member of Raissa’s cyberspace, docbebot quoted that she knows her personally – 3 lawyers in the family.Bedan.
If you have a chance, you should watch the replay of day 36.
Have a good day.
The Ombudsman has the AMLC goods!
– Ombudsman on CORONA TRIAL:
Report on $10M account came from AMLC–Ombudsman
– $10M came from AMLC: Ombudsman
– CJ withdrew over $400K on Dec. 12
“I first sought the information from agencies and then I referred the complaints to the Anti-Money Laundering Council because I thought that the charges included some matters that were within the jurisdiction of the AMLC,” Morales told the court.
“And then later, I constituted a panel of investigators and eventually, I wrote the AMLC seeking assistance towards the determination of the truth of the charges,” she added.
CJ R Corona’s REPLY to Ombudsman Carpio-Morales’ Bombshell.
Tama si @Den
walang natitirang hakbangin ang taumbayan sapagkat hindi kaya ni Pres Pnoy ang Kababuyan ni Koronakut sampu ng kanyang mga alepores sa korte suprema. ako ay naniniwala na unti unting nawawala ang mga natitirang sumusuporta sa kanya wala na halos marinig kina Joker arroyo dahil sa sobrang kasamaan na naipakita sa TAKE-OVER ng BGEI. kahit bata ay maiintindihan ang maniobra ng mag-inang KORONAKUT na di mangyayari kung wala ang ISANG TAWAG ni KORONAKUT.
WALANG SALITANG MAKAKATUGMA SA KASAMAAN NG PAMILYA CORANA SA GINAWA NILA SA MGA TITO,TITA AT MGA PINSANG-BUO NI DEMONYANG CRISTINA. TUNAY NA MGA KAMPON NG KASAMAAN.
LALONG NAGWAWALA ANG KALOOBAN NG BAWAT MATINONG PILIPINO NA NAABOT NG TUNAY NA PANGAAPI SA MGA BASA GAMIT ANG KAPANGYARIHAN NA IPINAGKATIWALA SA KANYA NG BANSA.
WALA NI ISANG POLITICO ANG NAGPAHAYAG NG SUPPORTA SA KANYA. ANG MGA DATING NAGTATANGGOL SA KANYA AY TUMAHIMIG NA AT NAHIHIYA NA SIGURO.
MGA ABOGADO LAMANG NIYA AT SI MIDAS ANG NAGTATANNGOL. ITO ANG MGA TAONG SA TINGIN KO AY WALANG PINAGKAIBA SA KANYA.
BIRDS OF THE SAME FEATHER FLOCKS TOGETHER. MGA BUHAY BA SINUSUNOG NA ANG MGA KALULUWA. SA DAMI NG WALANG HUSTISYANG NAKUKUHA SA KANILANG PAGPAPATUPAD NG BATAS NA NAKAKALAMANG ANG MAYAMAN NA KAYANG MAGBAYAD.
Masarap basahin ang mga comments pero nakakataas ng blood pressure.
TINGIN KO MALAKI ANG PAG-ASA NA MAGKAROON NG PEOPLES POWER.
KAPAG TULUYANG NABABOY ANG ATING HUSTISYA. SAAN TATAKBO ANG TAONG BAYAN?
KUNG MAGIGING INUTILE ANG EXECUTIVE AT LEGISLATURE SA PAMBABABOY NG HUDIKATURA NI KORONAKUT AT PANDAK.
ANO ANG NATITIRANG HAKBANG NG TAONGBAYAN NA BINABABOY ? YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE AT PALAGAY KO SUSUPORTA LAHAT.
Nagsawa na daw ang mga Pilipino sa mga sama-samang pagkilos. Sa panahong kasalukuyan, dalawang grupo na lamang daw ang kumikilos laban o pabor sa mga isyu – ang mga bayarang hakot at yaong mga mayroong marubdob na paniniwala sa kanilang itinataguyod. Tapos na nga daw ang panahon na libo-libong mga tao ang magtitipon upang ipaalam sa mga kinauukulan ang kanilang mga saloobin. Nasaan na nga ba ang mga Pilipinong nagmamalasakit sa Inang Bayan?
Paano tayo humantong sa kalagayang ito? Namayagpag ang isang pamahalaan na walang patumanggang nilabag ang lahat ng mga batas at patakaran upang manatili sa kapangyarihan sa mahabang panahon. At sa panahong sila ay naluklok sa kapangyarihan ay tila walang patid ang pagkauhaw sa pagkamkam ng kayamanan. Hindi ba’t ilang taon lamang ang nakalilipas ay pinalayas natin ang isang diktador upang tayo makapamuhay na muli ng malaya at marangal? Sadya nga bang tayo ay mapagpatawad at madaling makalimot? Sadya nga bang matiisin ang mga Pilipino?
Naglaho na ang ating kakayahan na magalit sa mga katiwalian sa ating bayan. Ang mga maralita ay abala sa paghahanap ng pantawid-gutom sa araw-araw. Ang tanging mahalaga ay ang ngayon, at kung paano mabubuhay sa bawat araw. Ang kinabukasan ay isa lamang malayong panaginip na hindi na dapat pagtuunan ng pansin. Ang mga may-kaya naman ay natatakot sa kaguluhang maaring dala ng pagbabago. Bakit kailangan pang guluhin ang takbo ng buhay kung patuloy naman ang kanilang pag-unlad? Sa pagitan ng kawalang pag-asa ng mga maralita at ng kawalan ng pakialam ng mga umuunlad, ay umusbong at yumabong ang isang lipunan na manhid na sa katiwalian at pang-aabuso ng mga nasa pamahalaan.
Ngunit katulad ng isang mapagmahal na ina, ang bayan ay handang maghintay sa tamang panahon na mapagtatanto ng kanyang mga anak ang kabuktutang naglulugmok sa kanila sa kahirapan. Matatapos rin ang panahon ng pagtangis, ng pagkabulag sa mga katiwaliang nangyayari sa ating paligid. Sa bawat latay ng kasinungalingan ay hampas ng katotohanan ang ibabalik. Panahon na upang magalit muli, dahil sa ating pananahimik ay patuloy ang pagyurak sa lahat ng tagumpay na ipinaglaban ng ating mga bayani. Panahon na upang manindigan para sa bayan, at ibalik ang karangalan sa ating pamahalaan.
Ngayong araw ng mga ina, huwang nating kalimutan ang ating Inang Bayan. Kailangan niya tayo upang manindigan at ipaglaban ang katotohanan at katarungan laban sa mga tao na mas nanaisin pang malugmok ang buong sambayanan upang maipagtanggol lamang ang iilang nagtkasil sa bayan. Ang nagkakaisang sambayanan at hindi silang iilan ang may tangan ng isang magandang kinabukasan para sa Pilipinas.
Bilib naman ako sa sulat mo Den. Mabuhay ang Pilipino! Mabuhay ang mga inang Pilipino.
concerned citizen says
Just updated news fromPhilstar:
Ombudsman should junk baseless raps vs justices, says SC ruling
By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) Updated May 13, 2012 12:00 AM Comments (12) View comments
Manila, Philippines – Has Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales already forgotten a Supreme Court (SC) decision that she signed in 2010 when she was still associate justice, which held that criminal complaints against impeachable officials not supported by ample proof should have no place for investigation in the anti-graft office?
In the ruling promulgated on March 2, 2010, the high court had laid down the limits of the power of the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate impeachable officers under section 22 of Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act).
“If a complaint against an impeachable officer is unwarranted for lack of legal basis and for clear misapplication of law and jurisprudence, the Ombudsman should spare these officers from the harassment of an unjustified investigation,” stated the ruling obtained by The STAR.
The high court stressed that the anti-graft office should dismiss outright criminal complaints against justices that fail to allege prima facie case or those filed without supporting proof.
It cited a July 31, 2003 memorandum by then Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, who directed that all complaints against judges and other members of the judiciary be immediately dismissed and referred to the high tribunal for appropriate action.
The SC was ruling on the graft charges filed by lawyer Oliver Lozano against former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and former Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, which the Ombudsman eventually dismissed.
“For the criminal complaint’s fatal omissions and resultant failure to allege a prima facie case, it rightfully deserves immediate dismissal,” it held then.
The court also stressed: “Only after removal can they (justices) be criminally proceeded against for their transgressions. While in office and thereafter, and for their official acts that do not constitute impeachable offenses, recourses against them and their liabilities therefore are as defined in the above rulings.”
In this case, the SC turned the tables on Lozano and started administrative investigation against him for “open disregard of the plain terms of the Constitution and the applicable laws and jurisprudence, and their misuse and misrepresentation of constitutional provisions in their criminal complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman.”
Morales concurred in this per curiam ruling (jointly written by justices during deliberations).
Now as ombudsman, Morales recently started an investigation on complaints filed by several groups accusing embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona of owning $10-million deposits even without ample evidence.
“Has Justice Morales already forgotten about this decision? The Senate should review her on this when she testifies in the impeachment trial,” commented an SC official who refused to be named.
The complainants – Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello, former Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Emmanuel Tiu Santos, and Harvey Keh – already reportedly denied specifying the amount alleged against Corona.
They said they never mentioned $10 million in their complaints.
The Chief Justice already denied the allegation and even dared Morales to explain where she got the amount.
SC spokesman Midas Marquez also said earlier that the high court may act on the issue and rule on the legality of the Ombudsman’s order should a petition be filed before it.
“That (order) can always be questioned before the SC on ground of grave abuse of discretion,” he stressed.
With this, he said there is a possibility that the high court might stop the investigation of the anti-graft body against Corona.
Morales was the only justice of the SC who opposed the appointment of Chief Justice Corona by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo during the 2010 election period. She was chosen by President Aquino to administer his inaugural oath and was appointed ombudsman last year.
She is the first cousin of Senior Justice Antonio Carpio, closest rival of Corona for the top judicial post in May 2010.
She has been summoned to appear in the impeachment trial of Corona before the Senate to explain her action.
Victin luz says
AMPLE PROOF. ………… UNWARRANTED………………………. If you have ample proof then it’s warranted.
There was a dollar accounts only that a TRO was issued by SC in respect to the FDA law so the detailed amounts are not available. 5 or 6 dollar accounts I believe are already ample proof for the OMBUDSMAN to investigate Corona’s Actions.
tangin ang defense na lamang ang walang nakikitang prima facie evidence laban kay chief justice.
In the meantime, while we are focusing on Corona and Morales face off, Arroyo and her team are testing the waters, exploring ways on how to get out of here.
Having her cried wolf earlier on, she cannot blame anyone if her “life-threatening” issue seems to be taken with some suspicion. Hopefully, people keep their eyes on the ball.
lot of technicalities , that’s the only way you can defend corona, lawyers are liars,, the thing that you have a dollar account in a bank and did not declare it ,, that’s it no amount of technicalities can support your defense, ginagago nyo laqng ang sarili nyo,, come to think they still question the jurisdiction of the ombudsman to investigate corona,, dapat sa inyo manahimik na lang, NO WIN SITUATION na kayo, kung edukado kayo you should know where and when to give up,,ano sabi ni ERAP hoy pare WEDER-WEDER LNG YAN… give up no need to defend corona anymore , anyway BAYAD NA KAYO,,,,