GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 February) – In yesterday’s INQUIRER.net, Chief Justice Renato Corona said: “I do know my law. I have not broken any law.” Does he, really?
He continues: “I have no liability to the people and to the government. What my wife and I have is the fruit of hard and honest work for which all taxes have been fully paid.” Do they, really?
He deplores: “Since the prosecution alleged wrongdoing, the obligation to prove it is theirs and theirs alone. Do not extract it from me through means that are foul, coercive and illegal.”
By these three points, he professes his innocence. On them he stands to accuse President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and his allies in the Congress of persecuting him. Of course on the same three points he will be judge of his innocence.
Of the first point, Corona must be most familiar with the 1987 Constitution and RA 6713. How do these two laws test his honesty with what he claims he knows?
Article VIII, Section 7(3) of the 1987 Constitution states: “A Member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence.” Article XI, Section 1 of the same Constitution states: “Public office is a public trust.”
RA 6713 embodies these two complementary provisions of the 1987 Constitution into “A Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees to Uphold the Time-Honored Principle of Public Office Being a Public Trust.”
Section 8 of RA 6713 requires all public officials and employees to file every year their “[a] statement of assets, liabilities and net worth; and  disclosure of financial and business interests including those of their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.”
Why is he being impeached for the alleged irregular and improper filing of his SALNs from 2002 to 2010? Is the charge just whimsical?
Section 8(A) of RA 6713 requires that the “Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Financial Disclosure … shall contain information on the following: (a) real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value and current fair market value; (b) personal property and acquisition cost; (c) all other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like; (d) liabilities; and, (e) all business interests and financial connections.”
Yet, his condominiums are either not included in his SALNs or are undervalued when compared with their acquisition costs – not stated in the SALNs together with the current market value as required. There are also big differences between the cash declared in his SALNs and his bank deposits – the latest revelation by the prosecution on last Monday.
The discrepancies in his SALNs, Internal Revenue Tax Returns, Register of Deeds documents, and his bank accounts impeach Corona’s vaunted claim, “I do know my law.” This leads to the conclusion that he culpably violates the laws he so well knows. This casts doubt on the second point of his statement.
Of his third point, if he really has no wrongdoing, he should not stop the prosecution with technicalities and temporary restraining orders from presenting evidence to prove their allegations. Let the prosecution present all the evidence they can gather by any means. His defense counsel should and must be able to refute all charges against him.
The Senate as the impeachment court will sift the valid evidence from those extracted by “foul, coercive and illegal means – the lies from the truth”. The impeachment trial is his means to prove that he has “no liability to the people and the government”. If he is really innocent, he will be proven clean.
Sure of his innocence, why does he not just allow the prosecution enough rope to hang themselves? Then, he can have the last laugh. But by obstructing the prosecution at every step, he and his prosecution panel cast doubt on his media pronouncement: “I do know my law. I have not broken any law.” (Patricio P. Diaz / MindaNews)