Corona earned P21M in 10 years from SC
Defense starts to debunk allegations on Chief Justice's SALNs
CJ's relative bought Marikina lots; prosecution calls sale ‘simulated’
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Chief Justice Renato Corona received salaries and benefits, including fringe benefits, amounting to P21.63 million from 2002 up to 2011.
During her testimony, Supreme Court chief judicial staff officer Araceli Bayuga said she handles the “alpha list” which is a record of the salaries and taxes paid of magistrates.
She also detailed the salaries of Corona, which amounts to P5,872,859.82 over a 10-year period.
The defense started presenting evidence on Day 28 to debunk allegations that Corona did not disclose or under-declared his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN)
Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares alleged when she testified that she found several discrepancies in the SALNs vis-a-vis the income tax returns (ITRs) of Corona, which pushed her to launch a separate tax investigation.
Bayuga’s presence was earlier questioned by the prosecution. The latter said there was an earlier resolution from the SC that barred officers and employees from appearing in the impeachment court.
The defense said, however, that Bayuga only appeared for purposes of factual information and not on privilege communication.
Prosecution: What about CJ's expenses?
In a press conference, prosecution panel spokesman Miro Quimbo said it would still be difficult for Corona to justify his pricey real estate acquisitions even with his P21 million earnings from his duties as an associate justice and chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Quimbo said Corona cannot use the P21 million to defend his property acquisitions since he also uses his salaries and allowances for his expenses.
He said the 5 prime real properties of Corona are worth P31.8 million. In the Bellagio, Quimbo said the owner must pay condominium dues of P70 per square meter. In the case of Corona, this means paying P21,000 a month in condominum dues.
Quimbo also said Corona still has to explain his multi-million peso accounts as well as his dollar accounts.
Lots in Cristina’s name
The defense also presented its third witness, Demetrio Coronado Vicente, who bought seven parcels of land in Marikina Heights from Corona’s wife, Cristina. Vicente is a second cousin of Corona.
Vicente said he bought for P509,989.00 the seven parcels of land on July 26, 1990. He said he owns the land via an absolute deed of sale he got from Cristina.
Vicente also said he bought another parcel of land from Cristina’s sister, Miriam. The eight parcels of land total 3,400 square meters. A manager’s check worth P1,018,000 was given to Cristina for all eight parcels of land.
Vicente's testimony seeks to prove why these properties are not in Corona's SALNs. The prosecution earlier claimed the Marikina lots are not included in the SALNs except in the 1992 SALN.
Vicente said, however, that the land is not yet registered in his name because he ran out of money to pay for several tax dues. “Basta nasa akin ang deed of sale, ok na yun.”
He also said he has been paying the real property taxes, although the receipts are in the name of Cristina because he cannot show that the properties are under his name.
The prosecution, however, questioned the deed of sale, saying that it was notarized by a certain Beatrice Montoya, who is not recognized as a notary public by the Makati Regional Trial Court. The prosecution was able to present a certification from the court.
Vicente said he only learned about this today when he was told about it. Asked what he would do, he said: “Pwede ko idemanda yan.”
Corona was also a witness to the deed of sale.
Vicente said he trusts the Corona family so much that he could not question the integrity of the sale. He said he has no personal relationship with Corona himself, but their fathers were “barkadas” (in a group of friends). He also said the mother of Corona stood as a godmother in his wedding.
Vicente the real owner?
Senator-judge Loren Legarda asked, however, for any proof he can show that he is the real owner of the lots.
This was after senator-judge Ralph Recto stepped in to determine the purposes of the line of questioning of both prosecution and defense.
He said the prosecution is trying to allege that it was a "simulated sale" between Cristina and Vicente. Based on uslegal.com, “simulated sale refers to the sale in which no price or other consideration is paid or intended to be paid. In a simulated sale there is no intent to actually transfer ownership.”
On the part of the defense, meanwhile, Recto observed that they are trying to prove there is no need to include the lots in Corona’s SALNs because these were already transferred to Vicente.
He noticed, however, that the Marikina properties were still included in Corona's 1992 SALN but excluded starting in 1993.
Cuevas said, “that’s because the purchaser has not yet declared it under his name.”
“But in 1993, it was already removed...that is why I support [Enrile’s call] that Corona should appear since he will be the only one to explain these things,” Recto said.
Vicente said he had enough money to buy the lots, as sourced from the sale of his house in Tandang Sora in early 1990. He sold the house and lot for P3.5 million.
“Binili ko yan, diyan ako nakatira ngayon,” he said of the eight lots, where a house was later built.
Vicente said he had money then since he was a businessman. He said he was a previous owner of several payloaders, which he rented to others.
He dismissed the prosecution’s theory that he only had to pay P2,500 as transfer fee in for the lot in his name in 1990. Vicente said he had already incurred penalties, which hiked the fee to around P200,000.
Besides paying for the building of the house on the lot, he also said he had to pay for his medical bills since he suffered a stroke twice.
“Pero paano nyo mapapatunayan na dun talaga kayo nakatira at sa inyo yun?” Legarda asked.
Vicente said former Associate Justice and now Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales would be able to attest to that. He said Morales’ husband is a cousin of his wife Estrelita. He said Morales has been to his house once.
He also said Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, who shares his passion for bonsais, would know that he really lives in the properties in question.