By Carmela Fonbuena
MANILA, Philippines – Is it enough to remove Renato Corona from the Supreme Court? Or should government pursue cases against him?
The senators who convicted Corona are split. Saying no one is above the law, senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Francis Pangilinan want government to file separate charges against Corona.
But Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and senators Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Francis Escudero disagree. “Palagay ko wag na. Nakakaawa eh,” Estrada said in a media interview.
The House leaders and congressmen-prosecutors refuse to take positions themselves. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said the duty of Congress is to impeach and remove erring government officials. He said it’s up to the other government agencies like the Office of the Ombudsman and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to determine if criminal charges need to be filed.
During the impeachment trial, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and BIR Commissioner Kim Henares both admitted their agencies were investigating Corona. But there’s no word so far if they will file charges.
Rappler interviewed 2 private prosecutors, who were key players in Corona’s impeachment trial. They said the evidence the prosecution panel presented is enough to file 4 strong cases against Corona:
Violation of the SALN law
Perjury for “lying” in his SALN
Forfeiture of unexplained wealth
Tax evasion for not paying correct taxes
“Malakas talaga ‘yan. You don’t talk about the credibity of the witness. It’s the credibity of the document,” private prosecutor Jose Justiniano told Rappler. Another private prosecutor, who refused to be named, expressed the same legal opinion.
However, Justiniano said the government cannot file all 4 cases against Corona. “If government files perjury, it can’t file violation of RA 6713 because of double jeopardy. But forfeiture of unexplained wealth and tax evasion can proceed,” he said.
Rappler also interviewed former senator and lawyer Rene Saguisag and Ateneo School of Government Dean Antonio La Viña, who agreed there’s basis for filing a perjury case against Corona on the basis on his “non-declaration” of assets in his SALN. La Viña said it’s also up to the BIR to investigate if Corona paid taxes for his dollar earnings.
But La Viña said “much stronger evidence will be required for the criminal cases.”
Possible Case 1: Violation of SALN Law [...]
Read the full story >> 4 possible cases vs Corona – lawyers