Corona’s SALN omission no mere penny ante | Inquirer Opinion

Corona’s SALN omission no mere penny ante

01:34 AM April 29, 2015

In his letter to the editor (“Mamasapano makes President Aquino impeachable,” Opinion, 4/3/15), retired Court of Appeals Justice Mario Guariña III wrote: “Two years ago, we impeached a chief justice for failing to include a few assets in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. Nothing more. Today, we see a chief executive consenting to a prohibited act that resulted in what some call an error of such enormity as to be unacceptable in any organized society.”

I have no quarrel with the second part of that commentary. But I do take vehement exception to the first part. Guariña made it appear that the charges against that chief justice were penny ante, involving as they did a simple omission to list down just “a few assets” in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

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The chief justice for whom Guariña’s heart bled had a hidden stash of high-value assets worth in the tens of millions, not to mention secret bank accounts worth in the hundreds of millions! In fact, he and his family are now grappling with tax evasion indictments. From all indications, what the public clearly saw was the mind-blowing, ill-gotten wealth of a man who was supposed to epitomize virtue, honor and honesty as the highest magistrate of the land.

When a lowly-paid lady court employee was caught fudging her own SALN by not including a small market stall which earned her a paltry income of P1,000 a month, the Supreme Court came down hard on her and, without any compassion or mercy, kicked her out of her job for sheer dishonesty.

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Was Guariña saying a lesser and looser standard should have been used to measure the character and integrity of a chief justice? “With greater power comes greater responsibility”—does that not ring a bell? And here’s another: “Like Caesar’s wife, a judge must be above suspicion”! Excuse me, but I think, for dishonesty alone, the convicted chief justice simply got hoisted with his own Supreme Court’s petard!

—CARMELA N. NOBLEJAS, [email protected]

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TAGS: Mamasapano, Mario Guarina, Renato corona, SALN
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