Corona owns another luxe condo in Taguig, say prosecutors
Another condominium unit, this time at the plush Bonifacio Ridge in Taguig City, will supposedly form part of the evidence of graft and corruption at the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
The two-bedroom unit has a floor area of 113.02 square meters, a parking slot, and is worth about P5-8 million, according to a source in the 11-member prosecuting panel from the House of Representatives.
The source, who requested anonymity for lack of clearance to speak on the matter, quoted Certificate of Title No. 5582.
Bonifacio Global City is home to such upscale residential condominium buildings as Essensa, Serendra, Pacific Plaza Towers, Bonifacio Ridge, The Bellagio and Regent Parkway.
Its website states that Bonifacio Ridge is a 2-tower residential condominium development by Mackay Properties. It is located right beside Fairway 13 of the Manila Golf course and offers fantastic views of the greens as well as the skyline of Makati City’s central business district.
On Tuesday, the prosecution panel released documents showing that Corona and his wife purchased in December 2009 a P14.51-million, 303.5-sq-m unit with three parking slots at Megaworld Corp.’s The Bellagio in December 2009.
The panel said the unit was one of four prime properties under the name of the Corona couple.
The third property to be presented by the prosecution team is another condominium unit in Makati, and the fourth, recent acquisitions, are a house and lot in Quezon City, according to the source in the panel.
The source described the four properties as “two big, one medium and one small” in terms of space, not necessarily in terms of the amount involved.
Serafin Cuevas, Corona’s lead counsel, declined to comment on the latest allegation of graft against the Chief Justice.
“We’re not yet in trial. They have yet to prove that Corona owns [those properties],” he said.
Cuevas also warned the House prosecution panel against releasing alleged evidence of graft against the Chief Justice which are not included in the articles of impeachment.
“That’s not embodied in their complaint. Under the Rules of Procedure, you cannot present evidence on anything that is not alleged in your pleading,” Cuevas said.
He said the panel should not present its evidence against Corona “piecemeal.”
“If they included that [in the complaint], we could have controverted that in our answer. I thought they were very well prepared. Why are they still looking for evidence now?” he said.
In a statement sent by investor relations officer John Hao, Megaworld kept mum on the House prosecution’s claim that Corona had acquired a penthouse unit at The Bellagio.
If the company is summoned to testify at the impeachment trial, “we shall comply with the official orders of the authorities in a proper forum,” an official Megaworld spokesperson said.
The Corona issue had no impact on the trading of Megaworld’s shares at the stock market yesterday, dealers said.
Its shares closed unchanged at P1.74 per share, giving it a market capitalization of P44.6 billion. Shares of its parent firm, Alliance Global Group Inc., rose by 2.1 percent to P10.66, giving it a P107.22-billion market cap.
Both companies are part of the main Philippine Stock Exchange index, a basket of the Philippines’ largest and most liquid companies.
A stock dealer said that while the Corona issue had no fundamental effect on Megaworld, it would be interesting to find out who had paid for the penthouse unit and whether the payment was made in cash or check.
At a news briefing, Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo, the panel spokesperson, announced the final assignments of the House prosecutors who will argue the eight articles of impeachment against Corona at the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.
Article 1, concerning Corona’s purported partiality and loyalty to former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will be handled by Deputy Speaker Raul Daza, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares and Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., the chief prosecutor.
Article 2, concerning Corona’s statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, will be handled by Pangasinan Representative Marilyn Primicias-Aggabas and Dasmariñas City Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr.
Article 3, concerning the Chief Justice’s competence, integrity, probity and independence, or lack of it, which also involves ex-parte communication and his wife, will be handled by Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao, Akbayan Representative Kaka Bag-ao and Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption Representative Sherwin Tugna.
Article 4, concerning the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) on the travel ban on Arroyo, will be handled by Bag-ao and Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali.
Article 5, concerning the flip-flopping decisions of the Chief Justice, particularly on the issues of the League of Cities, Dinagat Island, as well as the Philippine Airlines’ union of flight attendants, will be handled by Barzaga and Aggabao.
Article 6, concerning the formation of the Supreme Court ethics committee on the case of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo and the charge of plagiarism against him, will be handled by Tugna and Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas.
Article 7, concerning the hasty issuance of the TRO on the watch-list order on Arroyo, will be handled by Colmenares and Daza.
Article 8, concerning the special allowance of justices as well as the alleged irregularities in the use of the Judicial Development Fund, will be handled by Umali and Aggabao.
Quimbo said the House prosecutors would be assisted by teams of private counsels.
He said the panel and the private counsels had been divided into smaller groups and were meeting regularly to prepare for the Senate trial.
Quimbo admitted that the Corona impeachment was a difficult one. He said the fact that practically all lawyers were beholden to the Chief Justice added to the challenge.
“But with the level of preparation that is being undertaken every day that passes, we are becoming more confident that we will be able to prove our case,” he said. With reports from Marlon Ramos and Doris C. Dumlao
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