By Perry Diaz
Just when the House prosecutors seem like they’re losing steam in building a strong case against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona… just when the senator-judges are beginning to doubt if there is even “clear and convincing” evidence to convict him… just when Corona went on a media blitz against President Benigno Aquino III and others whom he perceived as conspiring to oust him… and just when Corona’s invincibility seems beyond the reach of ordinary mortals, a young lady appeared on the scene.
During the early days of the Corona impeachment trial, it was revealed in Corona’s Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALNs) for 2003 and 2004 that he obtained a “cash advance” of P11 million from Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI), a corporation that has since been dissolved. That caught the attention of Ana Basa, a Las Vegas-based Fil-Am and daughter of the late Jose Ma. Basa III, one of five siblings who established the Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) in 1961. One of the other siblings was the late Asuncion Basa Roco, the mother of Cristina Roco Corona.
The buzz generated in the media about the “cash advance” in Corona’s SALNs prompted Ana to fly to the Philippines to talk to her aunt, Sister Flory Basa, the sole survivor of the Basa siblings. Sister Flory is a nun at the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Cavite.
As it turns out, the heirs of the original BGEI stockholders are embroiled in a nasty dispute with Cristina for the past 20 years. The news about the P11-million “cash advance” to Corona – who is not a BGEI stockholder — triggered a series of events that could dethrone the “King of the Supremes.”
Days later, it was revealed at the impeachment trial that Corona withdrew a total of P32.6 million from three peso time deposit accounts with Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) on December 12, 2011, the day he was impeached by the House of Representatives. Corona claimed that the money was not his but owned by BGEI. He said that he withdrew the money because he believed that PSBank was responsible for leaking the existence of the accounts, which also include five secret dollar accounts. But strangely, he opened a new account with the same branch and deposited the entire amount that he withdrew!
Cristina then sent a text message to a media personality saying that the P32.6 million came from the proceeds of the sale of a piece of BGEI property to the City of Manila. But assuming that it’s true that the money belongs to BGEI, why did Corona — who didn’t have any financial interest in BGEI other than being married to Cristina — deposit the money in his personal accounts?
Recently, it was reported in the news that in 1995, Ana’s father, who is Cristina’s uncle, Jose Ma. Basa III, filed an estafa case against Cristina for allegedly failing to account for the rental income of BGEI. However, the court dismissed the case and Cristina sued her uncle for libel for putting out a public notice in the newspaper alleging that it maliciously put her in a bad light. The notice announced that Jose Ma. Basa III, claiming to be a majority stockholder of BGEI, had filed a criminal case against Cristina for allegedly misappropriating rentals due BGEI.
It is interesting to note that at the time Cristina was sued for estafa, Renato was working as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel to then President Fidel V. Ramos.
In an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), Ana said that the original stockholders of BGEI were her father Jose Ma. Basa III, Cristina’s mother Asuncion Basa Roco, Mario Basa, Sister Concepcion Basa, and Sister Flory Basa.
Ana said that Cristina wrested control of BGEI when she became its administratrix in 1989. Since then, attempts by the stockholders to inspect the corporate books were denied by Cristina, thus keeping them completely in the dark about BGEI’s financial matters.
“Justice in my lifetime”
Ana said that in the past 20 plus years, the Corona couple heaped sufferings upon her parents and the rest of the BGEI stockholders. She said that they were constantly harassed by the Coronas. “There were people sent to our house with guns, scaring my parents, and phone calls in the middle of the night because there were pending cases regarding this corporation,” she said. “Inapi kami talaga (We were really oppressed). If they can do (this) to their own blood relatives, what more to people out there who are old, are not politicians, are not rich and are not lawyers? My parents were just ordinary citizens, just being good citizens here in the Philippines and yet to have your own blood relatives cause this type of injustice is…” She was lost for words and started sobbing.
Ana’s father passed away without getting justice. Her mother, Raymunda is now 83 years old but would like to see justice. And so does Sister Flory who just turned 90. Her birthday wish was: “I want to see justice in my lifetime.”
But with Corona enthroned as the country’s Chief Justice, can justice really be served? Ana said that she will continue to fight because she promised her father on his deathbed, “I would continue his fight for justice.”
In an interview with Ted Failon of TV Patrol, Sister Flory said that she’s willing to testify at the impeachment trial of Corona. She said that the Coronas could keep the money, all she wanted is to see justice done.
What goes around…
Well, Ana and Sister Flory might finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Last March 12, Corona’s lawyers started their presentation of Corona’s defense. But Corona’s defense panel has a dilemma. For Corona to avoid culpability, his defense lawyers have to prove that the P11 million “cash advance” and the P32.6 million he withdrew from PSBank on December 12, 2011 does not belong to him. If so, then Corona would have to return the monies to the rightful owners, the heirs of the Basa-Guidote clan.
Indeed, Ana might fulfill her deathbed promise to her father and Sister Flory might get her birthday wish granted. And how about Corona? One thing for sure, he might be able to get away with betrayal of public trust but he can’t escape from the Law of Karma. As someone once said, “Nothing escapes the Law of Karma. You get from the world what you give to the world.” Yes, what goes around comes around.
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“The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people!” – Napoleon