A Plaza Miranda Exclusive
By Raïssa Robles
Soon after Chief Justice Renato Corona categorically denied that he and his family owned any property in the United States, a California lawyer sent me documentary evidence showing the purchase of a house in Roseville, California by the chief magistrate’s youngest daughter, Charina.
This purchase was made 22 days before she allegedly bought a condo in McKinley Hills at the Fort.
Later I will explain why the two shoulder-to-shoulder properties transactions could have an important bearing on the ongoing impeachment trial of CJ Corona.
Yesterday, CJ Corona reacted to my article entitled – “Does Renato C. Corona have a clone living in the US?” – by issuing a blanket denial to reporters covering the justice beat.
I was particularly intrigued by the following sentence which came out in ABS-CBN News.com, which quoted CJ Corona as saying “we have no property in the US.”
And so I phoned his lawyer Tranquil Salvador to clarify what the word “We” meant. I asked Atty Salvador who was the CJ referring to when he said “we” don’t own any property. Was he referring to himself and his wife only or does “we” include his three children?
Instead of answering, Atty Salvador said he would send me CJ Corona’s original text message. He did and it said:
“Not true 101%. We have NO prop in the US. The addresses cited by Raissa Robles were the apts rented by my daughters at various times over the past 14 yrs and were therefore temp mailing addresses at those various times. The house in Bayshore, Tampa is owned by a family friend where we stay in the few times we’ve been to Tampa Fl. It’s also a mailing address.”
I thanked Atty Salvador who texted back saying, “Ok I hope it helps.”
Little did I know when I was talking to him that he had earlier said some things about me to other reporters. The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him in today’s issue as saying:
“The release of this story is highly suspicious because there will be no hearings and opportunities for us to confront them. The danger of releasing stories of similar nature is that these might raise suspicions, and conclusions may be drawn [against the Chief Justice].”
I would like to assure him I have no ulterior motive except the truth. And what journalist in her right mind would turn down such a scoop?
It is in this spirit that I continue to delve into the truth behind CJ Corona’s wealth. And as journalist I try to get all sides. It was for this reason that I also tried to reach one other defense lawyer, Atty Ramon Esguerra, yesterday but he did not answer. Shortly thereafter, I received a text message from his wife saying “My husband left a while back for a week-long solo quiet retreat. Thank you. Be blessed of God.”
Much earlier, I had sent a text message to Atty. Esguerra asking – Does the CJ have any assets abroad?
I received no reply.
I have also tried four times through different people to obtain an interview with CJ Corona himself. All my requests have been met by silence.
Why drag in CJ’s daughter?
It was Corona’s lawyers who introduced his youngest 33-year-old daughter Charina into the case. Charina was named as the real buyer of the McKinley Hills condo in the ritziest part of town. They said that on October 2, 2008, a Maria Charina Corona bought a unit for P6.19 million. Although the receipts for payment were made out to CJ Corona, his lawyers insisted that the chief magistrate had merely acted “in trust” for his daughter.
The lawyers also said Charina could well afford to buy the condo since she had been living abroad “for less than 10 years” now.
This morning during an interview on ANC, lawyer Karen Gimeno even upgraded Charina’s occupation to that of medical doctor. The truth is, CJ Corona’s two daughters, Carla and Charina, are both physical therapists.
Can a physical therapist raising two children and drawing salary from a hospital afford a pricey condo ON TOP OF a three-bedroom house in Roseville, California almost at the same time?
Charina’s Roseville property
On September 10, 2008 or 22 days before Charina bought a McKinley Hill unit – according to CJ Corona’s lawyers – Charina also bought a 1,337 square foot (or 122 square meter) property in Roseville. See below:
She also took out a loan of US$245,000 in order to pay the tag price of US$269,500 (equivalent to P11.5 million at 43 pesos per US$1.00). See the first page of the loan document or Deed of Trust below:
It therefore becomes a legitimate question to raise in the impeachment trial whether she could afford to have paid for both almost at the same time. And why she was buying a condo unit in The Fort when she had just invested in a home in California, payable for the next 26 years and paid a donwpayemnt of US$24,356 (P1 million) on it.
Since Charina was married to Carlos Salgado, you would assume that Roseville is their conjugal home. But it is intriguing to note that on the day Charina bought Roseville, her husband Carlos signed an “Interspousal Grant Deed” waiving all his rights to the property.
The deed turned Roseville into Charina’s “sole and separate property.”
Implications of these two properties
I’m not saying that CJ Corona gave a helping hand in the purchase of these two properties.
All I’m saying is that given these two transactions, it has become very relevant, material and pertinent to look at the money flow in CJ Corona’s dollar accounts.
First, if dollars were remitted to Manila from Charina’s California bank account before the McKinly Hill condo was bought, then that would show the money used indeed came from Charina. But if no money came in, whose money was used to buy the condo?
Second, if dollars were remitted from CJ Corona’s bank accounts in Manila to Charina’s bank account in the US before the Roseville property was bought, then that could prove to be highly suspicious.
Tomorrow, I will give an update on the cyber-sleuthing that Our Plaza Miranda did on the Bayshore and Mountain View properties that are somehow being linked to CJ Corona. My sincere thanks to Our Plaza Miranda – the growing community of Filipinos here and abroad who frequent my site to discuss, debate and share information on issues such as the impeachment trial.
In barely 24 hours, at least 10 Filipinos who had never seen nor met each other except in our Cyber Plaza Miranda had tracked down the Roseville property of Charina. They go by the handle @Baltazar, @Teri, @Sam, @Yvonne, @Tomas “Buddy” Gomez, @Johnny Lin, @Alfred, @Maxima, @Rho, @Ed and @Pogo. And thank you of course @Steve, who e-mailed me the property documents.