Disclosure of Corona’s tax records eyed as impeach trial resumes

THE prosecution panel is determined to prove that Chief Justice Renato Corona acquired properties from ill-gotten wealth as its members are expected to disclose irregularities in the latter’s tax records as the impeachment trial resumes Tuesday.
Commissioner Kim Jacinto Henares of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has been summoned to appear in this week’s continuation of the impeachment proceeding to turn over Corona and his wife’s tax records.
Prosecutors likewise sought the tax records from 2000 to 2010 of his daughter Carla and son-in-law Constantino Castillo III, and from 2005 to 2010 of son Francis and daughter-in-law Charina.
“The chief justice could be very nervous about what will happen once Commissioner Henares reveals his tax records and that of his immediate family members,” House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, one of the spokespersons for the prosecution team, said in a statement.
Fellow prosecution spokesman House Deputy Majority Leader Romero Frederico “Miro” Quimbo said Corona’s tax records are vital in proving his ill-gotten wealth as alleged in Article II of the impeachment case filed against him.
Both the prosecution and defense panels were earlier asked to file their respective memoranda on Article II where the Chief Justice is accused of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for the non-disclosure of his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
The defense earlier argued that the prosecution should not anymore look into the properties of Corona and his family since they only accused the Chief Justice of non-disclosure. The prosecution, however, stressed that they also accused Corona of amassing ill-gotten wealth as stated in the impeachment complaint.
Quimbo said he expects the defense panel to pursue the same strategy it employed last week.
He challenged Corona’s lawyers to allow the prosecution to present his tax records “without delay and objection” if their client has nothing to hide as they claim.
Defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador III has reportedly said the defense will block the presentation of Corona’s tax records at the impeachment trial.
In a text message to Sun.Star, defense panel spokesperson Karen Jimeno pointed out that perceived delays in the trial were “due to (the) failure of prosecutors to comply with legal requirements” adding that Corona wants the “proceedings to be fast”.
Jimeno added that lawyer Serafin Cuevas of the defense panel had to raise “several objections during the testimony of (Supreme Court clerk Enriquetta) Vidal because prosecution did not observe rules of evidence in their line of questioning”.
Among the objections that Cuevas raised were that the prosecution seemed to be asking Vidal for her opinion, and that the prosecution seemed to be trying to impeach, or discredit, its own witness.
Meanwhile, in a radio interview over dzMM, lawyer Ramon Esguerra, co-counsel and spokesperson of Corona, said that Corona has other sources of income such as allowances that enabled him to buy several real estate properties.
This is the reason why the defense would oppose any moves to present Henares as witness and for her to present the chief magistrate’s income tax returns as evidence in his impeachment trial.
Publicly disclosing Corona’s ITR could be a move to “mislead” and “condition the minds of the public,” he said, adding that allowances are generally not reflected in the ITR.
“As a Supreme Court justice, pag-usapan din yung other sources of income such as allowances because that is not included (in the SALN). These are tax-exempt. Generally, these allowances are not supposed to be declared. There is a pertinent revenue regulation here,” said Esguerra.
The defense panel said that the move is just another fishing expedition, which it has already warned the Senate impeachment court about at the very start of the trial when they sought a preliminary hearing.
“This is like a general search warrant. Parang roaming and hindi specific and not relevant as regards to Article 2 on the case of the chief justice, which is about the non-disclosure of the SALN,” he said.
The motion was earlier dismissed by the Senate, citing its rules that said that once convened, the impeachment court must “forthwith proceed” with the trial. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jonathan de Santos/JCV/Sunnex)


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