MANILA – Chief Justice Renato Corona on Friday admitted having US$2.4 million, including interest earnings since the late 1960, plus P80 million in co-mingled funds.
“I never, at any time, had 10, 11 or 12 million [US] dollars,” Corona said, denying a claim by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales that he had “transactional balances” of $10 million in his dollar accounts.
Answering questions from senator-judges, Corona said his dollar accounts total $2.4 million. He said he invested and traded in dollars since the 1960s when he was still working with the private sector.
His peso deposits include P34 million from the sale in 2001 of a real property of the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. in Manila, as well as money earned by his daughters Charina and Carla, and son-in-law, Francis.
The P80 million also includes a “Coronado fund,” which came from his late mother.
Corona only declared P3.5 million in investments and cash in bank in his 2010 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).
The impeachment complaint accuses him of failing to disclose his real assets, liabilities and net worth.
Corona vs Carpios
Corona also detailed the animosity between her and Carpio-Morales which, he said, was further highlighted during their bid for the post of chief justice following the retirement of Reynato Puno.
Then-President Arroyo picked Corona as chief justice and appointed him during the election appointment ban in May 2010.
Corona also said he noticed Carpio-Morales always took the side of her cousin, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, in the high court’s rulings. Mr. Carpio was also his rival for the post of chief justice.
Corona also accused the Ombudsman of allowing herself to be used by the Palace in its bid to remove him as chief justice.
“Palagay ko, nagpagamit ang Ombudsman sa Malacañang…Winawagayway niya ang isang dokumento allegedly from the AMLC [Anti-Money Laundering Council] na hindi naman authenticated,” he said.
He noted the allegation of Carpio-Morales first came out in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, even if the information was supposed to be confidential.
He said he received a directive from Carpio-Morales to explain the alleged $10 million in a sealed envelope. The order had the words written in bold, capital letters: “STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL”.
“Maximum damage to the reputation yun e,” he said, in reference to Ombudsman’s allegations of unexplained wealth.
Asked if he will still call for Carpio-Morales’ resignation if it is proven she lied, Corona answered in the affirmative.
Asked if he himself will resign, he said: “Hindi po.”
Responding to questions from Senator-judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Corona said his impeachment has sent chilling effects on the judiciary. He said the Aquino administration has violated the separation of governmental powers in an attempt to impose a “dictatorship.”
“Diktadura na ang susunod,” he said. (Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com)