Can we trust a taxation & corporate law expert who makes mistakes in his SALN?
By Emmanuel Mongaya
Journalist & blogger
Corona’s lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas blames the prosecution has been giving members of media copies of the evidences. In a previous post, I said the defense has belittled the initiative and enterprise of journalists in digging the truth. Now I realized another obvious reason. The impeachment trial outside the Impeachment Court does not have a Cuevas who is moving heaven and earth to prevent the truth from coming out. Haha!
Last week, Cuevas began pursuing a line of defense that insisted Corona’s mistakes in his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) were not intentional and not malicious. This could be corrected. It is not a culpable violation of the Constitution and, thus, not an impeachable offense.
Meanwhile, he continues to delay the formal proceedings with his objections and hair-splitting (what’s wrong for instance with the prosecution having produced evidence for only 21 multi-million assets either not reported or not reported properly in the SALN and not 45?).
Outside the Impeachment Court, ordinary citizens are already discussing the propriety of the Cuevas line of defense. Consider these two points that our favorite investigative reporter and blogger Raissa Robles has written the past few days:
1. Corona has taken a masters in taxation and corporate law in Harvard University. He worked for two banks and the SGV before he joined government service. And he had participated in deciding graft and corruption cases. (http://raissarobles.com/2012/02/03/coronas-not-intentional-mistakes-in-his-salns/)
2. The Corona-led Supreme Court convicted a Cebuano casual employee and a former mayor of Naga City in Cebu precisely for SALN mistakes. (http://raissarobles.com/2012/02/06/corona-led-supreme-court-okd-jail-for-2-saln-cheats/)
These two points raise several questions that I hope the formal Impeachment Court would soon tackle:
1. How could a taxation and corporate law expert who rose to become Chief Justice be making SALN mistakes unintentionally and without malice through the years?
2. If Cuevas is correct that Corona’s mistakes were done unintentionally and without malice, is he saying then that the highest arbiter of justice in the land was merely sloppy and careless?
3. Should our senator-jurors allow a taxation and corporate law expert who makes sloppy SALN mistakes continue serving as Chief Justice and go on deciding cases involving SALN mistakes of even casual employees?
4. The Corona-led Supreme Court already set a strict precedent by convicting a casual employee and a former mayor for mistakes in the SALN. Would our senator-jurors apply this standard on Corona himself or would they rather get him off the hook by buying the defense line of sloppiness as advanced by former justice Cuevas?
5. If our senator-jurors allow a sloppy Corona to continue serving as Chief Justice, are they not demeaning the Supreme Court by such an action?
Apparently, the Cuevas line of defense raises a lot of questions and puts his client in a bad light. But what else could he do in the light of the glaring blanks, discrepancies, unreported assets, and wrong entries in Corona’s SALNs.
Perhaps, Cuevas could have contented himself with showing off is prowess in preventing evidence from being presented. As pointed out earlier, he is also good in tying the formal discussions into knots and exposing the lack of experience of the prosecutors.
During one confusing episode last week for instance, Senator-juror Lito Lapid finally stood up to speak. He apparently could not bear not knowing whether a cash advance is a loan.
I think Senator-juror Lapid has a valid point. For ordinary employees, a cash advance means one receives in advance an amount expected to be released in the future. But, Corona paid his supposed P11 million cash advance from his wife’s family corporation. So was it an advance or a loan? Was Corona also right in reporting an obvious loan as a cash advance? Was this an unintentional mistake of a taxation law expert that confused us?
Chief Justice Corona reflected in his 2003 SALN that he got a “cash advance” of P11 million from the corporation of his wife’s family and had been paying this through the years. But his SALN did not mention that in 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission had the registration of the said company revoked. In 2007, the company no longer existed.
Does this mean the Chief Justice got the money from and had since been paying a non-registered company? Granting that some senator-jurors were correct in saying that Basa Guidote Enterprises had the money for Corona’s P11 million loan, was the transaction legal then? Would our senator-jurors allow somebody who transacted an obviously illegal loan to remain sitting as Chief Justice?
As I said earlier, let’s prevent the second envelop mistake of the Estrada impeachment trial. I hope our honorable senator-jurors would help dig up an not bury further the truth.
- Corona and his SALN: Nothing to Fear if there’s Nothing to Hide (opinionhub.wordpress.com)
- Sloppiness a valid and believable impeachment defense? (www.sunstar.com.ph)
- [From the web] The prosecution’s mistake – RAPPLER.com (hronlineph.com)
- Impeachment evidence in journalists’ hands product of initiative (politika2013.wordpress.com)
- Corona can beat impeachment? (politika2013.wordpress.com)
- Did Corona submit a truthful SALN? (politika2013.wordpress.com)
- Corona enjoyed condo discount for favorable decision? (politika2013.wordpress.com)