THE CONSTITUTION commands the Respondent Chief Justice to file an accurate and complete SALN. This requirement is not a mere formality, as it goes into the heart of Respondent’s moral fitness to hold public office.
Respondent concealed his luxurious condominiums for 5 years after they were fully paid. Worse, Respondent reported the values of these condominiums at less than 50% of their acquisition cost.
Respondent admits he did not declare 2.4 Million U.S. dollars, and 80 Million pesos, in his SALN. The enormity of Respondent’s hidden assets – over 180 Million pesos, or 50 times more than his declared cash assets – is scandalous. It is grossly disproportionate to his total income for 10 years of about 27 Million pesos. It establishes a prima facie case of ill-gotten wealth under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
180 million pesos. Res Ipsa Loquitor. The thing speaks for itself.
Respondent justifies his concealment of his dollar accounts because of the alleged confidentiality in R.A. 6426. This kind of interpretation will encourage aspiring thieves in government to simply hide all their loot in FCDU accounts. The law does not prohibit Respondent from disclosing his foreign currency deposits. It bars the bank from disclosing them without his consent. In fact, he authorized this court to inquire into them.
How can Respondent, the Chief Justice no less, claim good faith in asserting such a twisted interpretation of the law? Besides, the defense of good faith cannot be invoked. The punishable act of non-reporting of assets in one’s SALN is mala prohibita, where good faith is immaterial.
Respondent concealed his 80 Million peso deposits because allegedly they are “commingled funds” of BGEI and that of his relatives.
Respondent presented n o evidence to substantiate his claims. If BGEI funds are held in trust, respondent must report such funds as assets, and enter the corresponding liabilities, in his SALN. He did not. He cannot claim good faith. He was the manager of SGV’s Tax Department.
The Supreme Court dismissed Delsa Flores, a lowly court interpreter, for not reporting in her SALN her stall in a public market.
The Chief Justice must be held to a much higher standard.
Those who dispense justice must conform to the highest standards of professional integrity, and personal honesty. Chief Justice Corona knowingly, deliberately, and with malice aforethought, filed inaccurate and false SALNs to conceal his enormous wealth. Where our Constitution and our laws require disclosure, he chose the path of concealment. He has lost his moral fitness to serve the people. He has betrayed the public trust. He cannot be Chief Justice a minute longer.
I found the Respondent guilty.