Coronas beg for extension to reply to tax evasion raps

Posted at 10/05/2012 2:02 PM | Updated as of 10/05/2012 11:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of former Chief Justice Renato Corona asked for more time for the submission of counter-affidavits of the former chief magistrate, his daughter, Carla, and son-in-law, Constantino Castillo III, on tax evasion charges.

With the submission of the motions and non-filing of their respective counter-affidavits, the Coronas did not appear before Friday's hearing on the preliminary investigation of separate complaints filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the former Chief Justice's alleged P120.5 million in tax deficiency, alleged P9.93 million tax deficiency for Carla, and alleged P20.25 millon tax deficiency of Constantino III.

Atty. Anacleto Diaz, whose services the Coronas just engaged on October 1, asked for a 30-day extension for the submission of the former chief magistrate's counter affidavit, and 15-day extension for the submission of Carla and Constantino III's counter-affidavits.

"We beg you, your honors, on bended knees, we beg you to grant us these extensions because of the physical and mental impossibilities that come with the preparation of these counter-affidavits," Diaz told the panel.

The panel, composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roseanne Balauag, and Prosecution Attorneys Roland Estepa and Javee Laurence Bandong, amid Diaz's pleas, only granted a 10-day non-extendable extension.

"We understand your predicament, counsel, but our Rules do not allow us the time you are asking for. It's too much," Balauag told Diaz.

Diaz immediately moved for a reconsideration of the ruling, pointing out that Rules "may be relaxed" and even the Supreme Court (SC) has not hesitated to relax its Rules for the sake of "substantive justice."

"Which would we choose, to make rulings based on technicalities or based on substantive justice?" Diaz pointed out, adding that it was not unusual for state prosecutors to grant 30-day extensions in specific cases.

He said while the 10-day extension was feasible for Carla and Constantino III, it was virtually impossible for the former Chief Justice who was being charged for transactions spanning 8 years.

Asked if he felt the denial of the Coronas' motions may be attributed to government's "continuing persecution" as the former Chief Justice perceived these tax cases, Diaz said, "I don't want to go into that. It's not my business. I'm just a lawyer... I'm not a political analyst. I'm not a PR (public relations)... I want to be on record as not wanting to answer that."

Diaz is representing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a plunder case before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) multi-million peso fund mess.

He is also the lawyer of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) in the Hacienda Luisita agrarian dispute case as buyers in good faith of a 184-hectare land inside the sugar estate owned by the family of President Aquino.

The lawyer bared that the former Chief Justice may resort to "other remedies" in light of his motion's denial.
The panel's ruling set to Oct. 15 the next hearing and submission of respondent's counter-affidavits. Panel chair Balauag instructed Diaz to tell his clients to be physically present in the hearing.