Chief Justice Renato Corona is protected by the Cory Aquino Constitution

A critic of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona lamented over Twitter, “But Corona is using the law for his own protection.” Eureka! Corona’s critic had the answer to the dilemma dividing the sentiments of the entire nation. Indeed, if the law cannot protect the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, then the law cannot protect anybody in the country. Equal protection of the law applies to everybody including Corona. As stated in Article III, Section 1,2,3, of the Bill of Rights:

Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

On the last day of his testimony at the impeachment trial, Corona claimed that apart from the violations committed by the prosecution, the Office of the Ombudsman was in violation of his rights and other laws as stipulated in the constitution, which includes the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and the dollar secrecy law:

“I am not aware of being guilty of a predicate crime,” he said. “I am not under any investigation and there is no court order, yet the Ombudsman released the alleged AMLC report and made a PowerPoint presentation during her testimony.”

Under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, investigators must first establish a suspect’s link to a predicate crime before they can look into his bank accounts.

The law also requires a court order before a suspect’s bank accounts can be opened for scrutiny.

The suspect also needs to be informed that he is being investigated by the AMLC before his bank accounts can be checked.

Technically speaking, the prosecution and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales did not have authority to look into Corona’s accounts without the waiver allowing access to his bank accounts that he only issued on the 25th May 2012. This means that the manner with which they gathered the evidence used in their investigation into Corona’s accounts was in violation of the Constitution particularly Corona’s right to privacy.

It is interesting to note that the prosecution is now relying heavily on the presentation by defense hostile witness, Ombudsman Morales to secure his conviction. According to prosecution spokesman Congressman Miro Quimbo, the AMLC report supposedly obtained for the Ombudsman was enough evidence and that whatever results Corona’s waiver would produce would be of no use to them. However, the evidence presented by the Ombudsman should not even be admissible for any purpose in any proceeding including Corona’s impeachment trial as stipulated in Section 3.2 of Article III.

Even more bizarre, something highlighted by Senator Chiz Escudero, is the fact that the prosecution is not interested in checking the accuracy of the unauthenticated AMLC report on which Ombudsman Morales based her spurious interpretation. Escudero was in disbelief upon hearing that the prosecution does not need the waiver from Corona at all considering that it was the issue of access to Corona’s account that caused the Senators a lot of stress during one of their earlier caucuses at the start of the trial.

The prosecution had almost caused branches of government to collide with each other when they insisted the court subpoena Corona’s dollar accounts — a request which would have put the Senate court in violation of the dollar secrecy law. One can be forgiven for thinking that prosecution is afraid to find out that the Ombudsman’s report might not match what’s in Corona’s account. It likely means that they are afraid that Corona could be telling the truth.

The Senator Judges are likewise not interested in looking into Corona’s account now that it is finally open for inspection citing that “the court is hearer of facts” and not supposed to produce evidence for the defense and the prosecution. It seems no one is interested in the truth after all. The golden opportunity to find out if Corona is telling the truth about his dollar accounts and peso accounts with co-mingled funds is being ignored to be able to stick to their self-imposed deadline to end the trial by 31st of May.

How can the Senators arrive at an objective decision when they don’t want to look at all the facts? This would constitute a denial of due process.

Some say that the point of contention now is whether or not the Senators will agree to Corona’s interpretation of the Foreign Currency Deposit Republic Act 6426 or the dollar secrecy law and the The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act 6713 that covers the law on filing the Statement of Assets, Liability and Network (SALN).

Corona was very clear in his response to a bewildered Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s question on which law takes precedence, is it the SALN or the dollar secrecy law? The Chief Magistrate of the Supreme Court did not even see a conflict in the two laws because the SALN law includes the words “as may be provided by law” and that particular law in Corona’s case is the dollar secrecy law, which requires absolute confidentiality of the depositor’s accounts. To be sure, here is the part of the laws on disclosure of the SALN under Art. XI, Section 17:

A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law”

How can you argue with that? It is crystal clear that Corona was just following the law when he did not include his dollar deposits in his SALN and as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; it is expected of him to do so. I can’t imagine any of the Senators — except, perhaps, for Senator Drilon and Pangilinan — making a big deal of this unimpeachable offense considering it is Corona’s money, which he simply invested in US currency.

His salary had already been taxed and his dollar deposits would have been presumably taxed accordingly. Besides, now that we know that he only has a measly total of $2.4 million dollars – not $12 million, as earlier reported, we can all sleep at night knowing that he has not siphoned public funds into his accounts. And let’s not forget what Corona kept repeating during his testimony. If he really wanted to hide his money, he would not put it under his name. A CPA-Lawyer even claims that Corona did not have to include his dollar deposits in his SALN:

Estrella Martinez, a CPA-lawyer who served in the BIR for 32 years, on Thursday said Corona was under no obligation to reveal such accounts because of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (Republic Act No. 6426).

Martinez, an expert on SALNs having spent years at the BIR and with a master of law degree in taxation from the University of the Philippines, said foreign currency deposits have “no place in the SALN” because of the strict rules of RA 6426.

That partly explains why, she said in a paper given to the Inquirer, “in all my 32 years as a tax collector, I have never encountered a government official declare his dollar deposits in his SALN.”

“A dollar deposit cannot be declared as assets in the SALN because this will not affect his net worth,” she wrote. “It is of judicial notice that increase in net worth is taxable under Section 24 of the Tax Code, because net worth comprises such acquisition in ‘peso’ only.”

Martinez added: “Some passive income, like interest on dollar deposit, has been subjected to a final withholding tax, which the dollar depositor is not mandated to declare in his income tax return or SALN. This dollar transaction will just appear in an alpha list submitted to the BIR.”

There you go. Martinez’s explanation is easy enough to understand. I hope the Senators will not make things too complicated for them when they decide on Corona’s verdict.

Corona’s critics do lament about a lot of things against him but most of it is grossly exaggerated. Their failure in pinning down Corona has to do with their defiance of the law and in going against someone who knows how to use the law to protect himself.

[Photo courtesy Washington Examiner.]

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Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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75 Comments on "Chief Justice Renato Corona is protected by the Cory Aquino Constitution"

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Fan Ni Ilda
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Idol kita ilda! Pakasal na tayo! I lab yu!

vinsanity
Member

Given this fact, how else can the senator-judges think that the chief justice’s interpretation is wrong?

viking logarta (@vikinglogarta)
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viking logarta (@vikinglogarta)

Your article is shot full of inaccuracies. The AMLC, Ombudsman, nor the prosecution ever opened the dollar accounts of Corona.

J
Guest
“A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law…” Let’s repeat that… “As often thereafter as may be required by law” Clearly, the limitation of this constitutional provision by an enabling statute refers only on the FREQUENCY of filing the SALN. In Sec 11, Art 17, the phrase “as may be provided by law” was mentioned twice. First is on the frequency of disclosure and second is on the manner of disclosure. The law mentioned by that provision is the SALN Law or RA6713 since it’s the only law… Read more »
Eye
Guest
It is just so very sad that the Filipino people are still so very sensational … so very easily taken in and swayed by whatever garbage is thrown at them. No one bothers to zoom out and take a minute or so to evaluate the issues. The media is taken as the gospel truth. After all these years our media has not found their independence and still give out irresponsible reports all for the sake of rating and perhaps loyalty and then some … Without facts, solid unaltered facts they will judge and when revelations are presented to differ, they… Read more »
jerome
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I wonder when will the Filipino people rational and objective about things. The political nature of this trial is already enough to call it a mistrial. I do hope that our senator judges would not give in to the mob mentality. If running the Philippines would be compared to running a corporation, president pnoy should have been fired or asked to resign for non performance and incompetence. So much wasted resources and time is being spend on this impeachment proccess initiated by malacanang. At the end of this trial no matter what the decision is. The result is a net… Read more »
Impaler Triumphant
Member
I have a meme catchphrase for this: “One does not simply show their own bank accounts.” Yep, we still have to consider the bank secrecy law. And we know why. Fir example: Any black-hat hacker would see this impeachment as an opportunity to hack into CJ’s bank account and steal his money for some reason. And do not underestimate their power. The cleverest can cover their tracks. Now a cookie to eat before going to sleep: what if this impeachment is for the Yellow Tards to find out about his bank accounts so that their hackers could steal his money… Read more »
Aegis-Judex
Guest

And PNoy and co’y claim to be the Constitution…

facepalm.png

J
Guest
J
Guest
Let me quote a real lawyer: — Notwithstanding the well-written script and the well-staged drama, Chief Justice Renato Corona did not present any positive evidence to substantiate or corroborate his bare and self-serving allegations that he supposedly did not grossly underdeclare his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) To recall, during previous hearings, bank documents were produced and presented by the Prosecution showing that Corona, as of 31 December 2010, had balances of P12,024,067.70 under BPI Express Teller Checking Account No. 1445-8030-61 and P19,728,555.39 under PSBank Peso Account Nos. 089121021681 and 089121019593, or a total of P31,752,623.09 in… Read more »
Hyden Toro
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The five (5) minutes deliberation of the 188 Congressmen, who impeached Justice Corona. Due Process of the law, was not rendered. The 188 Congressmen, acted like the Benigno Aquino’s Hooded Traitors, during the Japanese occupation. They wear hoods, or put “Bayong” over their heads; to conceal their identities. Point to people suspected of fighting the Japanese invaders. Then, in five (5) minutes or less, the Japanese Firing Squad of the Kempei Tei (Secret Police)…were ready to execute the Filipino Patriots, who are branded as suspects…It is Ironic that Benigno Aquino III, is doing what Benigno Aquino I, the top Japanese… Read more »
J
Guest
Also, let a real Chief Justice speak. Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban thinks the Prosecution succeeded, while the Defense failed. And I’m sure he knows more law than all of us here combined: —– The Senate is on the threshold of history. For the first time ever, it will complete an impeachment trial tomorrow. Unlike in the case of former President Joseph Estrada that ended in a walkout, it will have the singular opportunity to render a historic decision based on the evidence presented by the parties. By this judgment, the Senate and the senators will be judged by our… Read more »
UP nn grad
Guest

So is there a search of the person (or persons) inside Malakanyang who warned CJ Corona that his bank funds may be frozen?

J
Guest

Also, Dean Raul Pangalangan of UP College of Law has practically called CJ’s claim that dollars are exempted from SALN as what it is: Bullshit.

See: http://opinion.inquirer.net/29539/the-mystery-of-the-friday-hearing

Der Fuhrer
Guest
The continuing attempts to undermine the underlying principles of the constitution is very apparent. The present regime of BS Aquino and his strategy of lies and deception is needed to project a false image of a crusader anti-corruption president. Those who continue to believe that there is no more corruption in the Philippines must be living in a cuckoo clock world. Watch the dictator as he destroys the constitution. When the rule of men prevails over the rule of law then anarchy and chaos will rise. The darkness of dictatorship has started and is spreading. Truly, Mr. BS Aquino is… Read more »
up nn Grad
Guest

It is good that the Senate court decides soon — guilty versus acquit.

The Supremo Korte needs to address this deLima item and her assertion that Malakanyang’s POLICE POWER means that Malakanyang-agencies (PNP, Army, BIR, etcetera) do not need to obtain to get Court Orders.

J
Guest

Wow, so you throw ad hominem against the lawyers I cited. And you conveniently say it’s all politics now, as the Yellows had said. Plus you dump me with all those die-hard Aquino legions, too.

I thought we don’t fallacies blur the discourse?

And let me say for the record yeur heneur that I resent that shot cheap shot saying Peping is my Uncle. I did not vote for the President and I’m not a die-hard Yellowist. Ah, but you don’t make a distinction, do you?

Now The Nutbox wishes to be excused.

bujad
Guest

hahahaha “get real”… nangyon may nag post ng mga legal na opinion ng mga tunay na abogado sa kaso ng idolo nyong si corona, naghihimutok ang mga butsi nyo!!! sayang ang mga galing at talino nyo dahil sarado pala ang pagiisip nyo at may motibong sirain lang ang pamamalakad ng gobyerno para maisulong ang sarili nyong agenda, hindi palitan ang sistema ng gobyero pero palitan ang mga taong naihalal na magpatakbo nito….!!!