Still unexplained: The gap between Corona’s wealth and SALNIt’s perfectly understandable for Chief Justice to take care of his cousin, Demetrio Vicente, who testified in his favor Tuesday at his impeachment trial.
The 70-year old Vicente is not in the best of health having suffered two strokes and Marikina is quite a distance from the Senate in Pasay City.
But he should have used his personal car, not the vehicle belonging to the Supreme Court,
Solar News reporter Albert Alicer and his crew caught on video Vicente riding in a beige Toyota Camry 1996 model with a red plate SEJ.953 after the impeachment hearings Tuesday evening. The vehicle turned out to be registered with the Supreme Court.
Another Solar News reporter interviewed Vicente and the old man, sans guile, admitted that he was “hatid-sundo (fetched and brought home) ” by the chief justice.
Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, one of the prosecution spokespersons, has a valid point in saying that, “The fact that the resources of the Supreme Court are being used to ferry witnesses to and fro, I think this smacks of some violation pertaining to his misuse of government funds when it comes to that.”
“Certainly, the chief justice is entitled to his defense and in fact he has lawyers already defending him. But it is important that just like any person who is a respondent for a case pursuant to the performance of his public functions, you cannot use the resources of your office,” Quimbo said.
He asked that the Chief Justice consider taking a leave of absence to avoid further criticism. He said “unlike the congressmen who perform their constitutional duty as prosecutors in the impeachment trial, Corona should be prohibited from using the resources of the high tribunal to advance his defense.”
Surely, Corona with all his millions has a vehicle and driver, not paid by Filipino taxpayers, to bring home his cousin. Why he used the SC vehicle reflects his attitude towards his job. There’s a term in Tagalog for that attitude about a government position: “palabigasan.”
That’s why many of the items in the P21 million income that his defense team tried to dazzle the impeachment court were actually not supposed to be for his personal use but expenses to be incurred in performance of his duty. He was supposed to spend them for a specific purpose and not savings to be used to buy condominiums.
The past three days, the defense has been presenting witnesses disclosing the large income of Corona presumably to justify his purchase of a number of properties. Twenty-one million in ten years is P21 million. To majority of the Filipinos, that amount is mindboggling.
But Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has a point in asking for the relevance of those testimonies because the P21.63 million that Chief Justice Renato Corona received over ten years from the Supreme Court may just be enough for his expenses and nothing more.
Trillanes said that based on his own computation for somebody with the stature of the Chief Justice who is maintaining a few households, “let’s just put a figure that he may be spending around P150,000 to P200,000 per month and with that you multiply it by 12, he’s spending P2 million more or less per year then times P10, P21 to 22 million, so …”
Cuevas, himself, completed Trillanes’ computation: “Ubos na. (Nothing left.)
What the public wants Corona to explain is why his millions in the bank and some of his properties were not reported in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth, which is required by the law.