Corona says tax case all about Hacienda Luisita

Posted at 10/25/2012 11:34 AM | Updated as of 10/25/2012 1:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) - Former Chief Justice Renato Corona blasted the Aquino administration for its "continuing persecution" against him, as he filed his counter-affidavit on Thursday on tax evasion charges filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Speaking to reporters after subscribing to his 27-page counter-affidavit at the Dept. of Justice (DOJ), Corona said the P120.5 million tax deficiency alleged by the BIR for a period covering 8 years was "malicious" and "baseless."

"Pumarito ako upang magbigay ng aking tugon sa mga paratang na inihain sa akin ng administrasyong ito. Ang nagaganap ngayon ay karagdagang yugto lamang noong natapos na impeachment trial na ilang buwan na nakalilipas at alam naman ninyo kung ano ang naging desisyon doon ng Senado," he said.

"Napaka-highly political yung desisyon ng Senado."

Corona was removed from office following a guilty ruling by majority of the Senate Impeachment Court for failure to disclose all his assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

He said his conviction and the subsequent filing of tax evasion raps against him, his daughter, Carla, and son-in-law, Dr. Constantino Castillo III, was sending a strong message to the rest of the judiciary, a message of subservience.

"Isang mensahe lamang ang inihahatid nitong mga kasong ipinupukol sa akin at sa aking pamilya. Ang mensaheng ito ay para sa mga miyembro ng hudikatura, na kayo ay sumunod sa Malacanang kung ayaw ninyong mangyari sa inyo ang nangyaro sa dating punong mahistrado," he said.


All about Hacienda Luisita

Corona lamented how government has failed to distribute sugar estate Hacienda Luisita, owned by the family of President Aquino, in spite of a Supreme Court (SC) ruling at the time he was still the Chief Justice for its distribution to farmer-beneficiaries.

Corona said the Hacienda Luisita case was the root of his ouster. Through that final ruling, the judiciary showed its independence as a co-equal branch of government, he said.

"Yun namang impeachment trial na yun ay resulta nung desisyon ng Corona Court sa usapin ng Hacienda Luisita at ang krusada ko para sa batas at katarungan, at para sa isang malayang hudikatura," he stressed.  

"Pagkatapos ng anim na buwan na naging pinal or final yung desisyon ng Corona Court hinggil sa Hacienda Luisita, ang aking ipinagtataka ay bakit hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin naipapamahagi sa mga naaaping magsasaka, mga kawawang magsasaka ng Hacienda Luisita, ang kahit na anong bahagi -- kahit isang kakapiranggot -- na bahagi ng Hacienda Luisita sa kanila," he said.

Corona also thanked his supporters for their continued faith in him. He said wherever he goes, people come up to him to express their gratitude for what he stood up for: judicial independence.

"Alam ko naman na ang ipinaglalaban ko ay tama sapagkat kahit na saan kami pumunta, hindi ko na mabilang ang dami ng tao dyan na nariyan na nagsusuporta at naniniwala sa ating ipinaglalaban. Ako'y nagpapasalamat sa kanilang lahat, sa ibinigay nila sa aming lakas ng loob at tatag ng kalooban na ipagpatuloy ang pakikipaglaban na to para sa Diyos at para sa bayan," he said.