45 Corona assets eyed
Lawmakers seeking to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona want his entire household to appear at the opening of his impeachment trial on Monday and explain their alleged illegal acquisition of 45 properties.
Prosecutors from the House of Representatives on Thursday asked the Senate to issue subpoenas for Corona, his wife Cristina, their children Carla, Francis and Charina, and son-in-law Constantino Castillo III.
“If they can find it, it’s theirs,” Corona said after a Mass at the Supreme Court. “I’ll execute a deed of donation. If they can show my properties, I’ll just give it to them. The problem with some people—I won’t say who—they think that I am a thief like them.”
Representative Niel Tupas Jr. and his fellow prosecutors filed the request for summons a day after Corona’s camp asked senators to require Tupas and four other congressmen, including Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, to appear during the trial.
Corona’s legal defense team wants to question Tupas and company on the hasty approval of the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice, even if a number of House members had admitted they had not read the voluminous document but signed it anyway during a five-hour caucus last month.
The Chief Justice is facing charges of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and graft and corruption outlined in eight articles of impeachment.
In the five-page request, Tupas’ group also asked the Senate to require Corona and his family to produce a variety of documents pertaining to 45 properties purportedly under their names.
Properties in 4 cities
The properties are located in the cities of Makati, Parañaque, Marikina and Taguig, according to a two-page letter from Land Registration Authority Administrator Eulalio Diaz III, which was attached to the House panel’s request.
The Diaz letter was dated January 10 and was addressed to Tupas. It was sent “pursuant to (Tupas’) request for information relative to real estate properties registered in the name of Renato Corona et al.”
Tupas and his team wanted the Coronas to produce documents such as transfer certificates of title (TCTs), condominium certificates of title (CCTs), deeds of absolute sale, deeds of conditional sale, deeds of donation, deeds of assignment or transfer, and contracts of lease.
The prosecutors also sought purchase receipts or checks, certificates authorizing registration, and tax declarations of real property.
Tupas also urged the Senate to require the submission of income tax returns of Corona and his family from 1991 to 2011.
The Diaz letter mentioned 10 CCTs in the name of Corona and his wife, plus TCT No. 989 and TCT No. 2093-P.
Tupas and his fellow prosecutors earlier held a press conference announcing that Corona owned a 300-square-meter penthouse unit at The Fort in Taguig.
They had since been castigated by a number of senators for releasing evidence in media before the actual impeachment trial could begin.
Corona later asked senators to impose sanctions on the prosecutors. He noted he had already admitted owning the property in his official reply to the impeachment complaint.
Of the 45 purported Corona properties, eight are supposedly located in Marikina while 23 are in Quezon City.
Three of them, however, were not in Coronas’ name. Property No. 33 was listed in the name of the National Housing Authority, No. 35 in the name of Burgundy Realty Corp. and No. 44 in the name of Ismael A. Mathay Jr. et. al.
Marikina Representative Romero Quimbo explained that the three properties could be traced back to Corona.
Quimbo said Corona’s latest statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) in 2002 showed only five properties, a net worth of P13.9 million and P1-million liability.
He said Corona should explain how he was able to secure 40 more properties given his and his wife’s income in the government, noting that most properties were listed in the names of the Coronas when he was already Chief Justice.
Quimbo said the panel still had to investigate Corona’s possible properties abroad as well as bank accounts.
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