Forfeiture of Filipino chief justice's properties sought

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Filipino political group Akbayan is seeking the forfeiture of the properties of Chief Justice Renato Corona, which it said were "grossly undervalued" in his statement of assets, liabilities and networth (SALN).

The complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman mentioned of the February 9 evidence presented before the Senate impeachment trial, indicating that as of December 31, 2010, Corona maintained three bank accounts with a total deposit of 31,752,623.09 pesos (US$743,969).

"This exceeds the declared value of his personal properties in his SALN by 27,252,623.09 pesos ($638,533). Corona was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on 9 April 2002, and Chief Justice on 12 May 2010. He has been a member of the Supreme Court for nearly 10 years," the complaint stated.

"Corona earns a basic salary of 91,226.00 pesos ($2,137). Even assuming that he has served as Chief Justice for a decade, he would not be able to afford properties worth almost 50 million pesos ($1.17 million) nor maintain bank accounts worth some 31 million pesos ($726,335) at one particular point," Akbayan Representative Walden Bello said.

Aside from Bello, complainants include three student leaders Ernest Francis Calayag, Moses Mijkhael SD. Albiento and Tristan Daine Brioso Zinampan.

Defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador, when asked about the complaint said, "I have not received a copy of the complaint. Initial reaction is that it may be considered as forum shopping. With the complaint, the complainants would like to paint a picture that CJ's properties are ill-gotten even before there is presentation of evidence of the defense."

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