Solon seeks forfeiture of Corona’s millions
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello on Saturday said the government should initiate forfeiture proceedings on the unexplained properties and other assets of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Corona’s five peso accounts with Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) and one checking and ATM account with Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) may have at one time held a total of P64.21 million, which the Chief Justice did not declare in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), according to Bello.
He said that aside from the P32.6 million that Corona withdrew from three time deposit accounts on the day he was impeached by the House of Representatives, PSBank officials had previously testified on two Corona accounts with deposits of P7.1 million and P12.5 million.
If the accounts testified to did not overlap, Corona’s deposits in PSBank alone would have reached at least P52.19 million plus the P12-million deposit, for a total of P64.21 million, Bello said in a statement.
The party-list lawmaker noted that even without touching Corona’s foreign currency accounts, his undeclared cash deposits had been increasing with the testimonial and documentary evidence offered by bank officers.
“It’s like a basketball game with the running tally of Corona’s hidden wealth increasing exponentially and the Filipino people scoring booming triples and slam dunks in exposing his heretofore hidden bank deposits,” Bello said, adding:
“On its own, Corona’s hidden wealth sets the tone for a conviction.”
Devil in details
Bello said that in his 2010 SALN alone, as filed on April 29, 2011, Corona only declared a cash position of P3.5 million even if his 2010 yearend balance with two of his five accounts with PSBank and one with BPI totaled P31.7 million, for a discrepancy of P27.252 million.
Coupled with the P28-million discrepancy between the declared value of his properties vis à vis their acquisition costs, it appeared that Corona did not declare at least P55 million in his 2010 SALN, Bello said.
“But even that P55-million discrepancy between his declared net worth of P22.9 million on one hand and his bank deposits and acquisition cost of properties, on the other hand, may even be way smaller once all of his bank accounts are properly accounted for,” the lawmaker said.
Bello expressed apprehension that the P32.6 million withdrawn by Corona last Dec. 12 could be spirited out of the country because PSBank branch manager Annabelle Tiongson was unable to confirm if the manager’s check covering the amount had already been “negotiated.”
He said any and all of Corona’s unexplained wealth was deemed by law to be ill-gotten, and thus must be confiscated in favor of the government and the Filipino people.
“The devil is in the details, and the evidence is damning. The Filipino people score victory after victory in the impeachment, and before long we will succeed in getting rid of all of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s henchmen in government,” Bello said.
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