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Corona declares P22.9M net worth, 5 properties

Corona's SALNs as SC justice
By YVONNE T. CHUA, VERA Files

Chief Justice Renato C. Corona has reported a net worth of P22.9 million and five pieces of property, including three condominium units he bought in the 10 years he was member of the Supreme Court.

Corona, who was impeached last month and is being tried by the Senate, has been accused of failure to disclose to the public his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth.

The impeachment complaint from the House of Representatives also quoted reports that that some of Corona's properties were not included in his declarations and alleged he has accumulated ill-gotten wealth, having acquired assets of high values and keeping bank accounts with huge deposits.

Corona has invoked a 1992 en banc resolution restricting the release of SALNs of members of the judiciary in refusing to release the statements to the public.

But Supreme Court clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal was forced yesterday to surrender Corona's SALNs since 2002 on orders of the Senate.  Also yesterday, the Supreme Court authorized the turnover of the documents to the impeachment court.

Corona's counsels have stressed that the chief justice has been complying with the required annual filing of SALNs.

The five pieces of real property declared in Corona's latest SALN, for 2010, are his Quezon City residence acquired in 1970, a condo unit also in Quezon City bought in 1997, and another condo unit in Makati purchased  in 2003, when he was already with the Supreme Court.  He had previously declared these properties.

The new entries are a condo unit he bought in Taguig in 2004 and another condo unit, also in Taguig, bought in 2010.  The property acquired in 2004 has an assessed value of P1,421,990 and current market value of P2,369, 9890, while the 2010 condo is assessed at P3,496,320 and has a market value of P6.8 million.

Corona said in his SALN that he sold two parcels of land in Quezon City to pay for the loans used in acquiring the Taguig condo units.

Before the trial began, Corona's counsels said the chief justice has five properties: his family residence in Xavierville, two condo units in Taguig, a unit at The Columns in Makati and another one at One Burgundy Place on Katipunan Ave., Quezon City.

Impeachment prosecutors and news reports, however, cited a list from the Land Registration Authority supposedly showing that Corona has 45 properties in Metro Manila, 19 of them supposedly not declared in his SALN and estimated to be worth P200 million.  The properties, according to reports, include a condominium unit at The Columns in Makati; a unit at Bellagio I in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig; a unit in Bonifacio Ridge also in Fort Bonifacio, and several pieces of property in Marikina Heights and in Diliman, La Vista Subidivison and Cubao in Quezon City.

The chief justice has branded the list of his alleged properties, which purportedly came from the Land Registration Authority, a "hoax" and "black propaganda."

Before his appointment to the Supreme Court in 2002, Corona was then President Gloria Arroyo's adviser and chief of staff.  He reported a net worth of P13.9 million.  Following his appointment year, as associate justice, his declared net worth was P14.9 million. (Read related story: Corona's net worth before SC: P14M)

But his net worth would dip from 2003 till 2009, as he reported having obtained an P11 million cash advance from his wife's family-owned business, Basa-Guidote Enterprises.  His net worth declined to P7.35 million and gradually climbed back to P14.6 million in 2009 when the borrowing was reduced to P3 million.

His December 2003 SALN reported the purchase of a land with an assessed value of P450,000 and current market value of P3 million.  That same year, he reported the P11 million cash advance from the company owned by his wife Cristina's family.

It was only in the  2003 SALN that Corona declared the condo in Quezon City he bought in 1997, saying it had been fully paid and the title had been transferred. The condo had an assessed value of P276,320 and market value of P921,089. No longer listed was the Quezon City house he acquired and built in 1976, which he listed when he was still in the executive branch.

Corona listed his wife Cristina's position at the John Hay Manor Corp. in his 2007 to 2009 SALNs.  His wife, however, was appointed a director of  the JHMC board by Arroyo in May 2001, a fact the chief justice omitted to include  in his 2001 to 2006 statements.

His cousin Benedicto, a colonel who became a brigadier general in the Marines in 2003, was no longer listed in the 2005 SALN.  His brother Ruben, National Home Mortgage Finance Corp.,  a manager in 1992 who later became vice president vice president of the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp., no longer appeared in 2006 SALN.  His statement, however, list lists a first cousin, Romeo Corona, as being employed in government, specifically the Office of the President.

Corona first joined the government in 1992 when he was appointed President Fidel Ramos' assistant executive secretary.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

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