Palace: Criminal prosecution vs Corona continues-A A +A
Thursday, October 25, 2012
MALACAÑANG said Thursday that the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona will not stop government from pursuing him for his alleged wrongdoings during his 10-year stint in the Supreme Court.
Corona criticized President Benigno Aquino III when he filed his counter-affidavit on tax evasion charges filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Thursday, saying the administration continues to "persecute" him.
"Isang mensahe lang ang inihahatid nitong mga kasong ipinupukol sa akin at sa aking pamilya. Ang mensaheng ito ay sa mga miyembro ng hudikatura na kayo ay sumunod sa Malacañang kung ayaw ninyong mangyari sa inyo ang nangyari sa dating punong mahistrado (This case filed against me and my family means only one thing. It means that members of the judiciary should bow to the orders of Malacañang or face the same fate as the former chief justice)," Corona told reporters.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda dismissed Corona's statement, noting that the tax evasion case is not a continuation of the impeachment trial.
"Mr. Corona knows that after you're impeached or removed from public office, it does not stop the government from pursuing criminal prosecution," Lacierda said.
Corona's misdeclaration in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) cost him the job along with low public confidence in his abbreviated leadership.
The tax evasion case stemmed from the former magistrates supposed failure to pay P120.5 million in taxes following his acquisition of pricey condominium units and a house while he was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Lacierda said that during the impeachment trial of Corona, the Bureau of Internal Revenue found probable cause to file tax evasion charges against the former Supreme Court official.
In filing his counter-affidavit Thursday, Corona asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to keep his reply documents confidential.
"I have talked to Secretary Leila de Lima, it could not be confidential because the preliminary investigation is public in character and all documents attached thereto are public documents," Lacierda said.
Prior to Thursday's hearing, the former Chief Justice skipped the probe of the three-man DOJ panel thrice as he requested for more time to submit his counter-affidavit.
Corona's daughter Carla and her husband Constantino Castillo III are also facing a separate P30-million tax evasion case. The couple filed their reply last week, calling the case a tool of harassment.
The former Chief Justice and his supporters believe that he was removed from office for leading the High Court in issuing a decision to break up the Hacienda Luisita, which is owned by the family of President Benigno Aquino III.
The Supreme Court placed the vast sugar estate in Tarlac under the government's agrarian reform program in its April 24, 2012 ruling and pegged the value in 1989 as actual just compensation due to the hacienda's owners.
Six months after the landmark ruling, Corona expressed disappointment with the slow pace of the land distribution.
"Bakit hanggang ngayon di pa rin naipapamahagi sa mga naaaping magsasaka ang kahit katiting na lupa ng Hacienda Luisita? (Why is Hacienda Luisita not distributed yet to the offended farmers?)" he asked.
Lacierda said the Department of Agrarian Reform is currently doing an inventory of the farmer beneficiaries of the Hacienda Luisita estate in preparation for the distribution. (Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)