By Raïssa Robles
[UPDATE: Was it me you were referring to, Mr. Renato Corona, in your opening statement at the Senate impeachment court? Because there are a lot of other journalists who have been writing about your alleged hidden wealth. But I seem to be the only one who wrote about your name’s connection to certain US properties.
If that was me you were talking about, then I suggest you get together with Ninez Cacho-Olivares and Bobi Tiglao and form a fan club. I warn you, admission is high. Only dollars are accepted.]
Meanwhile, these are the questions I wanted to ask you, being the Supreme Court Chief Justice, but I never got the chance because all my requests for interviews were met with silence:
1. On September 26, 2001, Marichu Villanueva of The Philippine Star quoted you as having issued a press statement inside Malacanang Palace where you were then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s chief aide. In answer to allegations made by Jose Maria Basa III that you were using your office to sway decisions in your wife’s favor in the matter of the family feud inside Basa-Guidote, you said in a Malacanang Palace statement which Marichu wrote for the Philippine Star:
“From the very beginning, I have purposely stayed away from the financial and material affairs of my in-laws,” Corona said in a prepared statement.
“This private case is a family dispute over inheritance within their family and I do not even know how this came about. For Mr. Basa to accuse me now of meddling in this inheritance case is unfair, baseless and un-Christian,” Corona said.
Unknown to us then, but now known to us because of the direct testimony of former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, your wife Cristina received P34,703,800 payment from the city of Manila on June 5, 2001. The check was made out “in trust” to her. June 5, 2001 is only around three months before you issued that September 26, 2001 statement from Malacanang Palace that you had “purposely stayed away from the financial and material affairs of my in-laws.”
1.1 How do you now reconcile that statement you made in Malacanang Palace with ex-Mayor Atienza’s recent testimony that you had accompanied your wife twice to see him on the Basa-Guidote property?
1.2 How did you introduce yourself then to Mayor Atienza? Did you give him your calling card? And what was written on your calling card?
2. Unknown to us in 2001, but now known to us because of the direct testimony of former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, your wife Cristina received P34,703,800 payment from the city of Manila on June 5, 2001.
I heard you say just now during your opening statement before the Senate impeachment court that Malacanang Palace is very powerful and can do anything. Do you think that on June 5, 2001 when your wife Cristina obtained the P34 million check from the city of Manila – at a time when you were already a close Malacanang aide of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – the P34 million check was a manifestation of what you just said – that Malacanang Palace is very powerful and can do anything?
3. Your defense lawyer Judd Roy told the Senate impeachment court that you took out the CASH ADVANCE between September 5 and September 30, 2003 from Basa-Guidote Inc. when the shares had not yet been auctioned off to your daughter Carla Corona-Castillo.
3.1 When was the exact date you obtained the CASH ADVANCE?
3.2 Whom did you request to obtain the CASH ADVANCE?
3.3 What exactly is the CASH ADVANCE for? Why would a corporation like Basa-Guidote give you a CASH ADVANCE when you are not even connected to it; while (in fact) you were an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court at the time?
3.4 Why call it a CASH ADVANCE? Why, for instance, not call it a LOAN?
3.5 Was there anything put in writing that had to do with the CASH ADVANCE?
4. After your daughter Carla won the auction on September 30, 2003, was it your understanding that she in effect owned the company Basa-Guidote?
5. If she owned the company, were you paying back to her the CASH ADVANCE you got from the company?
6. I am confused in this matter. Your lawyer Ramon Esguerra told me that your wife in effect owned Basa-Guidote. To your knowledge, who now owns Basa-Guidote – your wife or your daughter?
7. Did you pay any interest for the CASH ADVANCE?
7.1 If you did not, why not?
8. Your Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) from 2005 to 2009 show that the amount of the CASH ADVANCE was dwindling, until it totally disappeared in the 2010 SALN. Does this mean you were paying off or reimbursing the CASH ADVANCE?
9. To whom were you giving back the millions that you were returning to Basa-Guidote? To your daughter or to your wife? Or to someone else? Or to no one in particular?
10. Do you have documentary proof to show that you were indeed paying back the P11 million CASH ADVANCE from 2005 to 2009/2010?
11. How did the Basa-Guidote money from the sale of the Manila property end up in an account in which you are the sole signatory?
11.1 Who put it there and by what authority?
11.2 Is there any documentary proof that you in effect became the “trustee” for the millions of Basa-Guidote?
11.3 If yes, please may we see it?
12. When your daughter Carla Castillo-Corona won the auction of the Basa-Guidote shares, were you knowledgeable about the fact that the one whose shares were being auctioned off had already died?
13. As an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by then (since you assumed office on April 9, 2002) is it your sworn duty to ensure that justice is done to every Filipino including the late Jose Maria Basa III?
14. Assuming that you did not know then that Jose Maria Basa III had died even before the auction, we can assume that you know now that he did die before the auction because this was revealed during your trial.
15. Now that you do know that Jose Maria Basa III died even before the court could rule on the libel complaint against him, what in your opinion as Supreme Court Chief Justice should now be done with the sales proceeds of the Basa-Guidote property?
16. As the Supreme Court Chief Justice, do you believe that the crime of libel of Jose Maria Basa III was extinguished upon his death and therefore he could no longer be convicted and his property in the form of Basa-Guidote shares of stock could no longer be garnished and then auctioned off?
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