Ombudsman wants Corona assets back
MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday asked the Sandiganbayan to freeze and seize over P130 million worth of allegedly ill-gotten assets of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina, saying that the value of the properties they had acquired over a nine-year period was out of proportion to their lawful income.
The Ombudsman filed a petition for forfeiture of the Corona couple’s properties and also asked the antigraft court to immediately issue a writ of preliminary attachment against their properties valued at P130.587 million.
A preliminary attachment is sought to prevent the concealment, removal or disposition of a defendant’s properties while the case is pending. It is intended to ensure that the winning party’s claim would be satisfied.
Corona said he expected Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to deny his appeal to reconsider her ruling indicting him and his wife for allegedly amassing P130 million in ill-gotten wealth.
In a statement, Corona recalled that Morales had been a hostile witness in his Senate impeachment trial in 2012.
“What fairness could we have received from an Ombudsman who viciously prevaricated and testified against me as a malicious hostile witness during my sham and an estimated P6.5-billion (at the very least) bribe-laden impeachment trial in 2012?” Corona said.
‘No possibility of getting justice’
He said Morales’ action “only proves that there was no possibility of getting justice from the present Ombudsman, who from the beginning, exhibited unusual hostility towards me.”
“My right to due process was denied because here the Ombudsman is the accuser, complainant, prosecutor, investigator, judge and executioner, all rolled into one,” Corona said.
In her resolution issued Wednesday, Morales directed the immediate filing of a forfeiture case in the Sandiganbayan, along with criminal information on eight counts of perjury and eight counts of violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Corona, in his statement, said he did not commit perjury if one was to study his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).
He also said there was “no proof of wealth beyond what I could truthfully earn from honest hard work of 45 years, invest and save, in addition to my and my wife’s family resources and a frugal lifestyle.”
In its petition filed Thursday afternoon, the Office of the Ombudsman said the Coronas’ combined gross compensation from 2001 to 2010 amounted to P30.369 million.
But their assets and net worth were much higher, it said. Their alleged unexplained wealth amounted to P130.587 million, it said.
It said Corona had undeclared cash assets, consisting of peso and dollar accounts in different banks that were not listed in his SALNs. The total of the cash deposits as of 2010 was P134.437 million.
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