Impeaching CJ Corona For Ill-Gotten Wealth
The Senate impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona started yesterday where the defense counsel, in his opening statement, stated that the alleged ill-gotten wealth of CJ Corona is “irrelevant” in the trial because he is accused of graft and corruption and not of acquiring ill-gotten wealth. As such, the defense lawyer said that the trial should not focus on the 45 properties allegedly owned by the accused. He clarified that CJ Corona owned only 5 of the 45 properties.
Off hand, as an ordinary guy following the case, the question that came to my mind when I heard what the defense lawyer said was “if CJ Corona indeed have ill-gotten wealth from graft and corruption, does that acquit him from the charge of committing graft and corruption simply because the act was not mentioned in the article of impeachment?”
I am quite disturbed by the statement so I searched for a copy of the Articles of Impeachment to verify if there was no charge of having ill-gotten wealth against CJ Corona and do you know what I found out? It was there in Paragraph 2.4 of Article II (Page 23 of 72) and I quote (emphasis mine),
Respondent is likewise suspected and accused of having accumulated ill-gotten wealth, acquiring assets of high values and keeping bank accounts with huge deposits. It has been reported that Respondent has, among others, a 300-sq. meter apartment in a posh Mega World Property development at the Fort in Taguig. Has he reported this, as he is constitutionally-required under Art. XI, Sec. 17 of the Constitution, which states, “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,” in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN)? Is this acquisition sustained and duly supported by his income as a public official? Since his assumption as Associate and subsequently, Chief Justice, has he complied with this duty of disclosure?
Although I also heard in a radio interview the Prosecution’s spokesperson’s denial of the issue, I only felt relieved when I personally saw the above-quoted portion of the Articles of Impeachment. We now just have to watch how the defense will try to prevent the presentation of evidence on the alleged ill-gotten wealth of CJ Corona. I sincerely hope that the Senate impeachment will allow the prosecution to present their evidence on this issue.
NOTE: The Senate Impeachment Court, in a resolution issued yesterday, January 25, 2012, disallow the prosecution to present evidence supporting Section 2.4 of Article II mentioned above. They said, the issue of ill-gotten wealth by CJ Corona will be tackled once the basis for such allegation is arrived at.