The Impeachment Trial of current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Renato Corona.
- Day 1 – Impeachment Trial
- Day 2 - Impeachment Trial
- Day 3 - Impeachment Trial
- Day 4 - Impeachment Trial
- Day 5 - Impeachment Trial
- Day 6 - Impeachment Trial
- Day 7 - Impeachment Trial
- Day 8 - Impeachment Trial
- Day 9 – Impeachment Trial
- Day 10 – Impeachment Trial
- Day 11 – Impeachment Trial
Current Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona has been impeached by the House of the Representative accusing him of betraying the Public Trust, committing Culpable Violation of the Constitution and Graft and Corruption.
The articles of impeachment are the following:
Article 1 of the Impeachment: Renato Corona betrayed the Public Trust through his track record marked by partiality and subservience in cases involving the Arroyo Administration from the time of his appointment as Supreme Court Justice and until his dubious appointment as a midnight chief justice to the present.
Article 2 of the Impeachment: Renato Corona committed culpable violation of the constitution and or betrayed the Public Trust when he failed to disclose to the public his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth as required under Sec. 17, Art. XI of the 1987 Constitution.
Article 3 of the Impeachment: Renato Corona committed culpable violations of the constitution and betrayed the public trust by failing to meet and observe the stringent standards under Art. VIII, Section 7 (3) of the Constitution that provides that “[A} Member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence” in allowing the Supreme Court to act on mere letters filed by a counsel which caused the issuance of flop-flopping decisions in final and executor cases; in creating an excessive entanglement with Mrs. Arroyo through her appointment of his wife to office; and in discussing with litigants regarding cases pending before the Supreme Court.
Article 4 of the Impeachment: Renato Corona betrayed the public trust and or committed culpable violation of the constitution when he blatangly disregarded the principle of separation of powers by issuing a “Status Quo Ante” order against the House of Representatives in the case concerning the impeachment of then Ombudsman Merceditas Navarro – Gutierrez.
Article 5 of the Impeachment: Renato Corona betrayed the Public Trust through wanton arbitrariness and partiality in consistently disregarding the Principle of Res Judicata in the cases involving the 16 newly-created cities, and the promotion of Dinagat Island into a province.
Article 6 of the Impeachment: Renato Corona betrayed the public trust by arrogating unto himself, and to a committee he created, the authority and jurisdiction to improperly investigate a justice of the Supreme Court for the purpose of exculpating him. Such authority and jurisdiction is properly reposed by the Constitution in the House of Representatives via impeachment.
Article 7 of the Impeachment: Respondent betrayed the public trust through his partiality in granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo in order to give them an opportunity to escape prosecution and to frustrate the ends of justice, and in distorting the Supreme Court decision on the effectivity of the TRO in view of a clear failure to comply with the conditions of the Supreme Court’s own TRO.
Article 8 of the Impeachment: Renato Corona betrayed the Public Trust and or committed graft and corruption when he failed and refused to account for the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) and Special Allowance for the Judiciary (SAJ) collections.
The impeachment trial in the Senate started on Monday, January 16, 2012.
Enriqueta Esguerra-Vidal who is the clerk of court of the Supreme Court was called in as the first witness for the prosecution. She was told to surrender the SALNs (statements of assets, liabilities and net worth) from 2002 to 2010 of the Chief Justice to the impeachment court. At first, Vidal tried to beg the court citing Supreme Court en banc’s May 2, 1989 resolution which prohibit the public disclosure of the SALN of judges and justices.
But in the end, she was forced to turn over Corona’s SALN’s inside a brown envelope to the impeachment court. The prosecution panels received the documents and started to read them, but the Senator Sotto called their attention that the documents should be surrendered to the impeachment court not to the prosecutors. Then the documents are marked as evidence by the court.
Later, Marianito Dimaandal, records custodian of the Office of the President was called. He brought with him the certified copies of the SALN’s of Corona from 1992 to 2002 when Corona was still an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
The networth of Corona per year according to the SALNs as reported by the Inquirer:
- 2002 – P14.96 million
- 2003 – P7.359 million
- 2004 – P7.359 million
- 2005 – P8.359 million
- 2006 – P9.559 million
- 2007 – P11.059 million
- 2008 – P12.559 million
- 2009 – P14.559 million
- 2010 – P22.938 million
The properties included in the 2010 SALN are:
- Apartment Unit at the Bellagio Tower in Taguig City
- Apartment Unit at the Bonifacio Ridge in Taguig City
- The Columns in Makati City
- Burgundy Plaza in Quezon City
- a house and lot in La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City
Taguig-Pateros Register of Deeds Randy Rutaquio was called as the third witness for the prosecution panel. During the process of direct examination, Randy Rutaquio gave the certificate of title of the 330-square meter condominium unit in “The Bellagio Tower” in Taguig which is under the name of the Chief Justice and his wife Cristina. The said unit with 3 parking lots is valued at PhP14.6 million. Another document that Rutauio surrendered to the impeachment court is the deed of sale on the property sold by Megaworld Corporation to the Chief Justice and then the Chief Justice sold it to his daughter Ma. Charina Corona.
The impeachment judges were confused regarding the Article II of the impeachment since it has 3 acts contained with it such as:
- Corona failed to file his SALNs
- Corona did not include all his assets in his SALNs
- Corona amassed ill-gotten wealth
The Senator Judge Francis Escudero said that each article of impeachment must accuse Corona of single act not three. Both panels, prosecution and defense, were told to submit legal memoranda to clarify the charges on the Article II.
The BIR chief Kim Henares who should be the next witness had been excused by the Presiding officer because she failed to bring the income tax returns of Corona. But she was ordered to return in the trial on Tuesday bringing with her the needed documents.
Acting Quezon City Register of Deeds Carlo Alcantara was called as the fourth witness for the prosecution panel. During the direct examination, Carlo Alcantara revealed that the Burgandy property of Corona was sold by his wife, Cristina, to their daughter, Carla Corona-Castillo while the Chief Justice, served as the attorney-in-fact. However, the defense panel called the titles that are not of the Chief Justice name as immaterial and impertinent. The cross examination of Alcantara will continue next week.
The fifth witness being called was Marikina Register of Deeds Sedfrey Garcia. But he was told to return on Tuesday for his testimony.
The Impeachment Court made clear as agreed by the prosecution panel that Chief Justice Renato Corona is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the impeachment trial.
Both panels were told to submit the list of the witnesses that they will present during the entire trial.
Both panels were reminded that the Impeachment Court asked them to submit the memoranda regarding the Article 2. The prosecution panel asked the Senator Judges to give them time while the defense panel submitted their own memorandum and was allowed to explain it.
The presiding officer give the prosecution panel a deadline of submitting the memorandum until 10AM Wednesday.
The Chief of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Kim Jacinto-Henares, was called to be an expert witness who testified about the authenticity of the tax record of the Chief Justice, but not to testify on the veracity of the tax records.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, explained the difference between the ordinary witness and the expert witness. The expert witness can be asked hypothetical questions, while the ordinary witness will testify only on what she knows.
Santiago, further, explained that Henares as the BIR Commissioner cannot be examined direct or indirect on whether the allegations in the income tax returns are true, rather, she can prove that the documents brought as evidence in the impeachment trial are the same documents being filed at the BIR.
During the direct examination and questioning made by the Senator Judge, Henares, revealed that Corona did not file Income Tax Return from 2002 to 2010, but Corona is one of those listed in the so called, “Alpha List” of tax payers. The said list contains the gross income of Corona and the tax withheld which follows:
- 2006 – Corona’s income was PhP 465,000, while the tax withheld is not yet available.
- 2007 – Corona’s gross income was PhP 488,156 and PhP 117,399 tax withheld.
- 2008 – Corona’s gross income was PhP 606,388 and PhP 154,057 tax withheld.
- 2009 – Corona’s gross income was PhP 621,528 and PhP 155,556 tax withheld.
- 2010 – Corona’s gross income was PhP 657,755 and PhP 176,577 tax withheld.
While the wife of the Chief Justice, Cristina Corona, became a registered tax payer only in 2003 during the sale of their La Vista property. She was also included on the Alpha List only in 2007 when she became an official of the Camp John Hay Corporation.
During this trial, the prosecution panel verified that the Chief Justice Renato Corona was charged under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Senator Miriam Defensor- Santiago explained that accusing Corona under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act is irrelevant to the Section II of the Articles of Impeachment which accuses Corona of failure to disclose his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth (SALN).
Regarding the documents showed in national televisions, both the prosecution and the defense panels denied of releasing documents to the media, except the documents on the Bellagio properties of Corona which the prosecution panel admitted of releasing to the media. The presiding officers warned both the panels not to release documents that should be presented as evidence of the impeachment, especially those confidential ones.
During the examination of the BIR Chief, Kim Henares, the Impeachment court were discussing about the ITRs of the children of Renato Corona, particularly Maria Carla Corona – Castillo and Maria Charina.
It was noted that Maria Carla Corona – Castillio bought a property from her parents. The BIR chief revealed that the La Vista property bought by Carla at the amount of PhP 18 million while her ITR filed in 2009 showed that her monthly income is only PhP8,476.00. Charina on the other hand has never filed an ITR but she was a tax payer once during the sale of the McKinley Hills lot.
It was admitted by the BIR Chief during the direct examination that she was given authority by the President to divulge the information of the ITRs of the Chief Justice, his wife, their children and the spouses of their children.
During the impeachment trial on Monday, the Prosecution Panel called in the Megaworld Corporation Finance Director Giovanni Ng to testify as witness for the Article II of the Impeachment Trial which “failure to disclose SALN showing anomalies in the purchase of a Bellagio apartment unit and also of a property in the McKinlley Hills subdivision.
Bellagio Apartment Unit
During the direct and cross examinations, Giovanni Ng presented the deed of absolute sale which shows that the Chief Justice Renato Corona bought a 303 square meter Bellagio apartment unit for only P14.5 million on December 16, 2009, with the official receipts dated:
- April 20, 2009 – P5 million
- October 16, 2009 – P4.5 million
- October 17, 2009 – P5 million
Ng estimated the 2008 selling price of the Bellagio penthouse at P78,000 to P80,000 per square meter, thus revealing that the Chief Justice received a 40 percent or P10 million discount when he purchased the apartment unit. He, however, explained that the 15 to 20 percent discount is given to buyers who opted to pay a unit in short term payment. But in the case of Corona’s purchase, he got the discount due to the defect of the unit. Instead of selling the unit on its selling price the cost of repair has been given to the buyer as discount.
It was also noted that the property is named after the Chief Justice Corona’s daughter, Charina but the receipts and other documents are of the Chief Justice.
It was also revealed that the witness had not seen the Bellagio unit. Then, presiding officer, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile clarified that Giovanni Ng should not be told to testify the purchase and discount issue because he is a Finance Director not the Marketing official.
McKinlley Hills Property
Giovanni Ng presented to the Impeachment Court the deed of absolute sale for the P6.1-million McKinley Hill property under the name of the Chief Justice’s daughter, Ma. Charina and the official receipts which are all in the name of couple Renato Corona and Cristina.
The hand written letter dated September 8, 2008 given to the Megaworld after the property had been fully paid shows that the couple requested the developer to give the property the name of their daughter Charina.
It was, however, revealed that official receipts may indicate the buyer of the assignee.
Constante Caluya Jr, the Register of Deeds of Makati City presented the documents of the purchase of a one-bedroom unit at “The Columns” in Makati City made by the Chief Justice. The co unit was purchased on October 1, 2004 for P3.5 million.
Aniceto Bisnar Jr. of Ayala Land presented the deed of absolute sale for the P9.15-million unit at the Spanish Bay Tower, Bonifacio Ridge, Taguig City.
The prosecution panel brought Noli Hernandez, Senior Vice President for Marketing of Megaworld Coroporation, as a witness. The talk is still about the Bellagio Penthouse purchased by the Chief Justice, Renato Corona in 2008.
During the direct and cross examination, Hernandez revealed that the price of the penthouse is P24 million. But it was reduced to P19.6 million because of its damage caused by water during a typhoon. And since the couple, Renato Corona and wife, Cristina paid the property in a shorter term, the couple got a discount of P3 million. It was revealed that 15 to 20 percent discount is a standard if paid in shorter term.
The Senator Judges asked Hernandez of proof of the damage of the penthouse bought by Corona. He is also told to submit the building engineer’s report on the damage.
It was also revealed that Hernandez did not know that it was the Chief Justice who purchased the condo unit and that the Megaworld earned a little profit from the sale.
With regards to cases of Megaworld pending in the Supreme Court, Hernandez said that he only knew two cases where Corona voted against Megaworld Corporation: First in 2007 and then in 2009. It was noted that the Corona family bought a property from Megaworld Corporation in 2006 and then another one which is in the Bellagio tower in 2008.
Day 10 – February 1 , 2012 Impeachment Trial
P11 million loan from BGEI.
Director Benito Cataran of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) Company Registration & Regulatory Department was called as the witness to testify on the P11 million loan of the Chief Justice from his wife’s company in 2003. The loan was declared on his SALN in 2004 to 2009.
The witness presented the Articles of Incorporation of Basa Guidote Enterprises, Inc. (BGEI), the company owned by Cristina Corona, the wife of the Chief Justice. The BGEI was registered with the SEC since May 30, 1961. It was noted that CJ Renato Corona and his wife are not shareholders of the company.
He also revealed that BGEI’s Articles of Incorporation was revoked by the SEC for its failure to the General Information Sheets from 1991 to 1997 and also the Financial Statements from 2000 to 2003. These are required by the Corporation Code. He said that as the Articles of Incorporation was revoked by the SEC, the company is considered dissolved, thus it can’t operate anymore as to lending money.
However, the Presiding Officer clarified that when a company of which its Articles of Incorporation has been revoked by the SEC doesn’t mean that it is already dissolved immediately. He said that the SEC can revoke the license but the dissolution of the company lies on the stockholders.
The prosecution explained that what they are trying to prove is that the P11 million loan of the Chief Justice is fictitious.
However, the Senator Judges, Allan Cayetano and Edgardo Angara clarified that a company under the process of dissolution can still lend money. Thus said, that the testimony of Cataran is irrelevant.
Benito Cataran even admitted during the cross examination that he has no first-hand information about the company, the transaction and the loan. Defense Panel through Cuevas presented a check amounting to P34,703,800. He asked the witness about it which is supposedly the payment to Cristina on behalf of BGEI after the properties of the company were expropriated, but then he admitted that he is not aware of the transaction.
P3 million condo unit from Ayala Land
The Assistant Vice President of the Ayala Land, Nerissa Josef, was called to testify regarding the P3 million condo unit bought by the Chief Justice from the Ayala Land. The condo unit 31-B of The Columns is a 48-square meter condominium unit in Makati City. The witness said that the Chief Justice made 3 instalment payments in just one year and the Ayala Land issued the Deed of Sale dated October 1, 2004 to Corona.
The prosecution explained that when the Absolute Deed of Sale has been executed, the property should be included on the SALN. He said that the property should be included in Corona’s SALNs from 2004 to 2009. But Corona included it only in 2010.
The defense panel presented a handwritten letter of the wife of Corona, then asked the witness if he has the knowledge about the complaint of the buyer regarding the undersized wires and damaged windows. The witness answered “no”. Cuevas also said that the buyer refused to accept the property due to damages.
The senator judges then asked the prosecution and the defense to submit memorandum about when to include the property into the SALN: right after the Deed of Sale was executed or after the property was turned over to the buyer.
The witness revealed that Corona took control of the unit in 2008.
Day 11 – February 2, 2012
Quezon City Properties
Carlo Alcantara of the Quezon City Register of Deeds was the witness. He presented to the impeachment court the Transfer Certificate of Title of the P15 million lot property named after the daughter of the Chief Justice and her husband. He also presented the Certificate of Registration of the following:
- 1 condo unit at Burgundy Condominium
- 1 lot property at the Ayala Heights
- 1 lot property at La Vista
- 2 properties at Xavierville Subdivision
The prosecution panel made clear that Corona failed to declare on his SALN the value of the properties from 2002 to 2011.
The defense panel however explained that Corona is allowed to make corrections to inaccuracies made in the SALNs provided that they are not intentional. He cited the Rule 7 on public disclosure in the Rules of the Civil Service Commission.
The prosecution also cited the Supreme Court ruling that false entries in a SALN filed under oath is perjury. The prosecution however admitted that perjury crime is not impeachable offense.
Marikina Register of Deeds officer, Sedfrey Garcia revealed that Corona’s 7 lot properties in Marikina were already sold to a new owner. It was however noted that the TCT’s of the properties are still under Corona’s name.
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