Sandigan won’t junk perjury raps vs Corona
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Ousted chief justice Renato Corona has failed to convince justices of the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the perjury and other cases against him related to his alleged misdeclaration in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) between 2004 and 2012.

Members of the Third Division headed by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang rejected the motion for judicial determination of probable cause that he had filed.

Corona will be tried for eight counts of perjury and eight counts of violation of Republic Act 6713, the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees, according to The STAR sources.

The anti-graft court has yet to release a copy of the decision.

Voting with Cabotaje-Tang to deny Corona’s motion were Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Jose Hernandez, and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta.

Only Third Division senior member Associate Justice Samuel Martires voted to grant the motion.

Corona has posted bail in all of the 16 cases filed against him.

He will be arraigned in October unless the case suffers more delays.

The Third Division had to form a “special division of five” after Martires disagreed with Cabotaje-Tang and Fernandez since the decisions of the Sandiganbayan need to be unanimous, according to The STAR sources. 

In cases of dissent, two more magistrates are called to join the voting to arrive at a majority decision, according to procedure.

In his dissenting opinion, Martires expressed belief that the cases against Corona must be dismissed for different reasons.

“After a careful review of the law and the records of this case, it is my respectful submission that there is no probable cause against the accused Corona for the following reasons,” he said.

The STAR obtained a copy of his dissenting opinion.

The filing of charges against Corona has no legal basis because he was not even afforded his right to correct the alleged SALN misdeclarations as provided for by law, Martires said.

 “Based on the records of this case, the accused Corona was denied this ‘protection’ which was guaranteed by law to every public official or employee,” he said.

“The Ombudsman simply disregarded the clear directive of Section 10 to let the accused Corona correct the inaccuracies or deficiencies in his SALN.” 

Martires referred to the provisions of the law requiring government agencies to create a review committee for SALNs and for officials to correct them or render an opinion first before criminal prosecution can begin.

Corona cannot be charged with perjury and violation of RA 6713 or both because violation of the latter carries a heavier penalty and should prevail over the other, he added.

The Office of the Ombudsman “was devoid of authority to file these cases against Corona” because the law requires that the Civil Service Commission (CSC) must first determine if SALN laws were violated, Martires said.

Its power to prosecute cases arising from violations of RA 6713 is dependent on the “transmittal” of cases from the CSC, a clear provision of the law that “unless muddled by the fug of a sleepy mind… can easily be understood even by a high school student,” he added.

ACIRC ASSOCIATE JUSTICE SAMUEL MARTIRES ASSOCIATE JUSTICES ALEX QUIROZ CABOTAJE-TANG AND FERNANDEZ CASES CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION CORONA JOSE HERNANDEZ MARTIRES MEMBERS OF THE THIRD DIVISION OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
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