GENERAL SANTOS CITY, March 21, 2012 – Did Mrs. Cristina R. Corona really sell her 1,700 sq. m. land in Marikina Heights to Demetrio C. Vicente on July 26, 1990? Was the sale genuine?
These questions cropped up as the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported last Monday that Vicente wouls sell his property and move out of Marikina (PDI, March 19: Demetrio Vicente keen on leaving Marikina property). This report fuels and stokes the incredulity that the prosecution has raised.
Why is Vicente keen on moving out of the controversial 3,400 sq. m. property? No, not because of the land ownership having been implicated in Corona’s impeachment case! That does not bother him, he told PDI. It’s the taxes that do.
What is his plan?
First, he wants to move to a “place where real property taxes are not as hefty” as that in Marikina. His regular tax is P70,000. Since 2009, the city has discounted the taxes by 50 percent due to the massive devastation brought by Typhoon Ondoy; this is temporary. [Note: As reported by Interaksyon, Vicente presented to the court a tax receipt for P65,268 as full payment for 2010 – not specifying if it was for Mrs. Corona’s 1,700 sq. m. or including that of Miriam Roco’s]
Second, he needs a bigger area of land. Maybe he will buy in San Mateo, Rizal where taxes are cheaper, not in Marikina.
Third, he will sell the property for not less than P27.2 million. The property is described by PDI reporter Tara Quismundo as “a lush garden …almost like a slice of a quiet park” of bonsai trees, fruit trees and other ornamental plants. A red-brick house in the middle.
To sell the property, he has to first transfer the titles to his name. He needs P200,000 for transfer tax, the amount, he says that he does not have. He did not do this in 1990 when this tax, he said, was only P2,599.92; yet, he paid the then P2,594.88 realty tax (ABS-CBNews.com, March 13: CJ witness: I couldn’t pay P2,500 transfer tax). [Note: To add more doubts to incredulity, as the realty taxes were going up during the 22 years, he was able to pay the running-away taxes but never the transfer tax and the accumulating penalties.]
What is there to watch in the sale? There are interesting scenarios in how Vicente will possibly raise the P200,000 transfer tax.
- There is enough demand for bonsai plants. He has some personal property to sell or to mortgage. His daughter in Kuwait has enough savings to pool with her father’s fund. The critical question: If he would raise by himself P200,000 now, why did he not do this earlier when the transfer tax was very much less?
- Vicente can get a loan. Certainly, he cannot use as collateral the property he is selling. He can mortgage his wife’s 10-door apartment in Quezon City. If he can do this now, why did he not do it earlier?
- There is a ready buyer who would advance the P200,000. This is the best scenario from heaven.
- In the spirit of give and take, the Coronas trust him with a P200,000 loan in return for the trust that he has had for them. This is a long, long shot and a scenario that the prosecution likes to see happen.
- What if Vicente, as the prosecution believes, is really just a caretaker and a dummy? He cannot sell the property. Only Mrs. Corona and her sister Miriam can sell the property now. Will they through Vicente? If this happens, it will be the most interesting scenario.
Will any of the above scenarios materialize? If Vicente will be able to sell the property, that will prove he is the real owner. Resolving the incredulity of the prosecution at this stage of the impeachment will absolve CJ Corona beyond doubt of the charge he has not declared that property in his SALNs.
Is it Vicente for his own sake that is really keen in selling the property he cannot legally sell? Why did he not make an issue about the “hefty” taxes earlier? What does he need a “bigger area” for? Unbelievably, not so he can expand his bonsai garden. In his heyday, he had 3,000 bonsai plants; now, past his heyday, it’s down to 2,000. He might be too old at 70 and sickly, too, to start a bigger garden.
The more keenly the sale has to be watched. — (Patricio P. Diaz/MindaNews)