Monday, 30 January 2012

‘Corona got P10-M discount’

Should Chief Justice Renato Corona be removed from office for receiving a P10-million discount in the purchase of a “defective” condominium unit?
The question on Monday surfaced after the prosecution alleged that Corona got such a price reduction, purportedly representing 40 percent off the original amount, when he and his wife Cristina bought a penthouse unit at The Bellagio in Taguig City on Dec. 16, 2009.
But prosecution witness Giovanni Ng, finance director of property developer Megaworld Corp., admitted that the unit had “technical and finishing issues,” which partly explained why it pitched the unit at a lower amount.
The witness said the prevailing global financial crisis, which affected real estate, was also a factor at the time of the purchase.
The prosecution presented the witness on Day 8 of the impeachment trial on Article 2—that Corona failed to declare his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN)—in an apparent effort to show purported irregularities in the purchase of Unit 38B at The Bellagio, and a separate property at McKinley Hill subdivision, also in Taguig City.
“We were informed by the witness that Chief Justice Renato Corona received a 40-percent discount from Megaworld Corp. equivalent to about P10 million and we believe, your honor, this is highly material because it goes into the valuation of the property in the SALN,” said private prosecutor Joseph Perez.
In a posttrial interview, defense lawyers pointed out that the P10-million discount was stated by Perez—not by Ng—and protested that  prosecution spokespersons were using the private prosecutor’s statement to malign Corona and to suggest that it had something to do with unspecified Megaworld court cases.
“We will make it clear that that has not been asked (during the trial),” said defense lawyer Tranquil Salvador III. “But since it’s already being talked about outside, this is what I will suggest, open the decisions, look into the decisions of the Chief Justice.”
“It’s very easy to do that,” Salvador said. “Go to the Supreme Court portal and look for Megaworld.”

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