Corona asks Sandigan to quash perjury charges
IMPEACHED Chief Justice Renato Corona has asked the Sandiganbayan to quash the perjury charges against him.
In a motion to quash filed before the anti-graft Third Division, Corona through his lawyers said the information is defective because it does not prove the willfulness on the part of Corona to underdeclare his assets in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities Networth (SALN).
He added that he could not be charged with perjury over willful omission in his SALN because he submitted the form containing truthful statements only to the best of his knowledge.
“Clearly, the clause ‘to the best of his knowledge and information’ shows the absence of a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood,” Corona said.
Corona also maintained that the bank accounts he allegedly hid in his SALN are protected by the rule on bank confidentiality.
“Surely, the non-disclosure of the accused’s bank deposits in his SALNs does not constitute underdeclaration or misdeclaration,” Corona said.
He also said he is allowed under Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Practices for Public Officials to correct any omissions he committed in his SALN.
“Mere failure, however, to declare properties in the SALNs cannot ipso factor constitute a violation of RA 6713 because while said law recognizes the occurrence of such omissions, it provides the public official, in this case the accused, a corrective measure before any penal or administrative sanction may be imposed,” Corona said.
“Wherefore, accused Renato Corona respectfully prays that this Honorable Court quash the informations in these cases for the reasons stated herein,” he added.
Corona was impeached by Congress in 2012 on false declarations of wealth in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities Net Worth (SALN).
As a result of his impeachment, the Ombudsman charged Corona before the Sandiganbayan of eight counts of perjury and eight counts of violations of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, which require public officials to file truthful SALNs.
The Ombudsman indicted Corona for allegedly lying about his true net worth by not declaring properties and several bank accounts, as well as undervaluing a number of real-estate properties that he declared.
During its investigation, the Ombudsman said from 2001 to 2011, Corona and his spouse earned a total of P30.4 million, of which P27.1 million was earned by Corona as an official at the Office of the President, a Supreme Court justice, member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and member of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).
On the other hand his wife, Cristina, earned P3.2 million for 2007-2010, based on the Alpha List submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by the John Hay Development Corp. (JHDC) where she was employed.
But from 2002 to 2010, Corona’s cash deposits ballooned from P1.34 million to P137.9 million, the resolution said.
By 2010, the cumulative discrepancy between his SALN declaration and his actual cash deposits had amounted to P134.4 million.
The resolution also cited records of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) on several properties owned by the Corona spouses in Quezon City, Makati City and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, which were found to be significantly undervalued by P17.3 million.
Because of these allegations, the Ombudsman also slapped the Corona couple with a P130.59 million civil forfeiture case.
Corona is set to be arraigned for the perjury case on Tuesday.
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