Why Corona did not declare bank deposits in SALN

Shielo Mendoza
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Chief Justice Renato Corona did not declare his peso and dollar deposits in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth because he was not required to do so, a defense counsel told the impeachment court on Monday.
 
“We just want to state that under the SALN form, there’s no requirement that we must have to indicate any bank deposits or bank accounts and the Chief Justice has not yet made any pronouncement on this point,” said defense lawyer Joel Bodegon, who acted as lead defense counsel on Day 31 of the impeachment trial.
 
Retired associate justice Serafin Cuevas was absent for the first time because he was not feeling well.
 
Bodegon made the manifestation after Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago challenged the defense team to prove the omissions in the SALN were done “in good faith.”
 
“To the defense, show that your client has in good faith declared in his SALN both his deposits, peso and dollar, and if he did not, why not,” Santiago said at the start of the hearing.
 
She added that if Corona was proven to have unintentionally omitted certain entries in his SALN, he would only be liable only for “simple negligence.”
 
The defense team further explained in a press briefing that rules on filing SALNs are confusing.
 
“Malinaw ba ang batayan sa SALN form? Kailangan ba lahat ng mga blangko doon ay dapat lagyan ng entrada?” defense spokesperson Tranquil Salvador said.
 
“Hindi dahil chief justice si Mr. Corona, iba ang gagamitin sa kaniyang standards. Hindi po tama iyon,” he added.
 
The prosecution, however, stressed that the chief justice is expected to be “candid, honest and truthful at all times.”
 
“The reason for the higher moral compass required by the Constitution for judges is that firstly, they do not have direct mandates since they are not elected, and secondly, they are given the final say on matters pertaining to any dispute. Their final actions are unappealable,” prosecution spokesperson Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo said.
 
The defense team maintained that Corona has always been honest and will remain honest in the future.
 
Meanwhile, the Corona camp brought back two witnesses of the prosecution on Monday to testify why some properties were allegedly not declared in the SALN.
 
Carlo Alcantara, Quezon City acting register of deeds, testified that the title of Ayala Heights property was cancelled on April 2010 after it was sold to a certain Rodel and Amelia Rivera for P8 million.
 
Alcantara also authenticated documents showing that the Coronas sold the La Vista property to their daughter Carla for P18 million in November 2010.
 
Randy Rutaquio, Taguig City register of deeds who has also testified for the prosecution, presented documents showing that Corona's daughter Charina bought the McKinley property from her parents.
 
Article 2 of the impeachment complaint accuses the chief justice of not declaring in his SALN at least 21 properties including the Ayala Heights, La Vista and McKinley properties.