Let us first recall the sequence of events leading to the supposed acquisition by Carla Corona-Castillo of 90.87% of BGEI’s shares of stock.
05 September 2001: A Decision was rendered by the trial court in the consolidated Libel Cases, which found Jose Ma. Basa III, Raymunda Basa and Virgilio Macaventa guilty of libel and ordered them to pay Cristina Corona a total of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00)
18 October 2001: Jose Ma. Basa III, Raymunda Basa and Virgilio Macaventa filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision.
29 August 2002: Jose Ma. Basa III died.
02 September 2002: The trial court denied the Motion for Reconsideration.
20 December 2002: A Motion to Withdraw was filed by the Fortun Narvasa & Salazar Law Office, on behalf of the accused, prior to the submission by Cristina Corona of a motion for the issuance writ of execution. Attached to theMotion to Withdraw was a letter dated 26 November 2002 written by Ana Basa, daughter of Jose Ma. Basa III, which mentioned “[her] Dad’s passing”.
24 April 2003: The trial court issued a writ of execution.
April-May 2003: Sheriff Bisnar served the writ of execution simultaneously with the notice of garnishment. These were served to the caretaker of the house of the parents of Cristina Corona.
30 September 2003: Sheriff Bisnar sold 4,839 shares of BGEI, which have the par value of P493,900, to Carla Corona-Castillo, Corona’s daughter, for merely P25,000.00
Based on the foregoing, BGEI could not have ratified the sale of the BGEI Property to the City of Manila and the P11 Million loan to Corona because there is no ratification to speak of. Carla Corona-Castillo could not have acquired the 90.87% of BGEI’s shares of stock since the purported transfer of the same from Jose Maria Basa III is completely void.
First, Jose Maria Basa III died before the finality of the decision in the Libel Cases. This is shown by the Motion to Withdraw filed by Jose Maria Basa III’s former counsel, Fortun Narvasa & Salazar Law Office, which explains the circumstances of Jose Maria Basa III’s death. Accordingly, upon his death, the criminal liability of Jose Maria Basa III, including the pecuniary penalties imposed in the judgment, was extinguished. Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
Article 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. – Criminal liability is totally extinguished:
By the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties,liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment. x x x [Emphasis and underscoring supplied]
Further, Section 4, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court provides:
Section 4. Effect of death on civil actions. –– The death of the accused after arraignment and during the pendency of the criminal action shall extinguish the civil liability arising from the delict. x x x
In this case, Jose Maria Basa III died during the pendency of the criminal action against him. Since accused Jose Maria Basa III already died before finality of the judgment of conviction, the proper remedy was for Cristina Corona to file a claim against the estate of the late Jose Maria Basa III and not proceed with the execution of the judgment of conviction, as was done in this case.
Accordingly, the levy and execution sale against the BGEI shares of stock held by Jose Maria Basa III (consisting of 4,729 shares or approximately 88.8% of the total outstanding capital stock of BGEI) was void. Thus, Carla Corona-Castillo never owned the majority of BGEI’s shares of stock and therefore could not have ratified the sale of the BGEI property to the City of Manila and the P11 Million loan to Corona.
Second, even assuming that the execution is the proper remedy, there was no proper levy on the BGEI shares of Jose Maria Basa III and Raymunda Basa for non-compliance with the prerequisites to a valid levy as provided under the Rules of Court.
Under the Rules of Court, before proceeding on the levy and garnishment of the personal and real properties of Jose Maria Basa III and Raymunda Basa, the sheriff should first make a demand from the judgment obligors, in this case Jose Maria Basa III and Raymunda Basa, for the immediate payment of the judgment award.
Section 9(a), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court states:
SEC. 9. Execution of judgments for money, how enforced—
(a) Immediate payment on demand.—The officer shall enforce an execution of a judgment for money by demanding from the judgment obligor the immediate payment of the full amount stated in the writ of execution and all lawful fees. The judgment. obligor shall pay in cash, certified bank check payable to the judgment obligee, or any other form of payment acceptable to the latter, the amount of the judgment debt under proper receipt directly to the judgment obligee or his authorized representative if present at the time of payment. The lawful fees shall be handed under proper receipt to the executing sheriff who shall turn over the said amount within the same day to the clerk of court of the court that issued the writ.
Further, under the Rules of Court, when a judgment debtor do not possess sufficient cash or funds to pay for the judgment debt, he/she is given the option to choose which of their properties was to be levied and/or garnished.
Section 9(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court states:
SEC. 9. Execution of judgments for money, how enforced —
x x x
(b) Satisfaction by levy.—If the judgment obligor cannot pay all or part of the obligation in cash, certified bank check or other mode of payment acceptable to the judgment obligee, the officer shall levy upon the properties of the judgment obligor of every kind and nature whatsoever which may be disposed of for value and not otherwise exempt from execution giving the latter the option to immediately choose which property or part thereof may be levied upon, sufficient to satisfy the judgment. If the judgment obligor does not exercise the option, the officer shall first levy on the personal properties, if any, and then on the real properties if the personal properties are insufficient to answer for the judgment.
The sheriff shall sell only a sufficient portion of the personal or real property of the judgment obligor which has been levied upon.
When there is more property of the judgment obligor than is sufficient to satisfy the judgment and lawful fees, he must sell only so much of the personal or real property as is sufficient to satisfy the judgment and lawful fees.
Real property, stocks, shares, debts, credits, and other personal property, or any interest in either real or personal property, may be levied upon in like manner and with like effect as under a writ of attachment.
However, as testified to by Sheriff Bisnar himself, there was no such prior demand. In fact, he testified that he served the writ of execution simultaneously with the notice of garnishment. Sheriff Bisnar did not even give Mr. Jose Maria Basa III (who was already dead at that time) and Raymunda Basa the option to choose which of their properties was to be levied or garnished.
Thus, since there was clearly no valid levy/garnishment of the shares of BGEI, Carla Corona-Castillo could not have acquired the same. Accordingly, Carla Corona-Castillo never owned the majority of BGEI’s shares of stock and therefore could not have ratified the sale of the BGEI property to the City of Manila and the P11 Million loan to CJ Corona.
Third, the following irregularities were committed by Sheriff Bisnar in the conduct of the levy and public auction of the BGEI shares:
1. There was improper service of the Notice of Garnishment.
Under the Rules of Court, shares of stocks may be levied upon in like manner and with like effect as under a writ of attachment, as provided under Section 9(b), Rule 39 of the Rules of Court. In this regard, Section 7 (c), Rule 57 of the Rules of Court reads:
SEC. 7. Attachment of real and personal property; recording thereof — Real and personal property shall be attached by the sheriff executing the writ in the following manner:
x x x
(c) Stocks or shares, or an interest in stocks or shares, of any corporation or company, by leaving with the president or managing agent thereof, a copy of the writ, and a notice stating that the stock or interest of the party against whom the attachment is issued is attached in pursuance of such writ;
In this case, Sheriff Bisnar testified that he served the writ of execution and the notice of garnishment at 901 Lepanto Street, Sampaloc, Manila, and not at 903 Lepanto Street, Sampaloc, Manila, the correct business address of BGEI as reported to the SEC. In fact, the address was served upon the address of the parents of private complainant Ma. Cristina Corona.
Worse, the writ of execution and the notice of garnishment were not left with the president or managing agent of BGEI. Rather, as testified to by Sheriff Bisnar, the same were left merely with the “caretaker” of the above-mentioned address.
2. The 4,839 shares of stock in BGEI were sold to Carla Corona-Castillo, the lone bidder at the public auction held on 30 September 2003 for only P28,000 which is grossly inadequate considering that the said shares, as agreed to by the defense itself, had a par value of P483,900 and a book value of at least P31 Million.
This irregularity was also observed by Presiding Officer Enrile when he asked numerous questions on whether Sheriff Bisnar verified the actual value of the BGEI shares of stocks and whether anyone expressed any objection as to the disproportionate amount, among others.
3. Sheriff Bisnar took almost 9 years before preparing the Sheriff’s Report covering the purported sale of BGEI’s shares of stocks to Carla Corona-Castillo.
Section 14, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 14. Return of writ of execution.—Thewrit of execution shall be returnable to the court issuing it immediately after the judgment has been satisfied in part or in full. If the judgment cannot be satisfied in full within thirty (30) days after his receipt of the writ, the officer shall report to the court and state the reason therefor. Such writ shall continue in effect during the period within which the judgment may be enforced by motion. The officer shall make a report to the court every thirty (30) days on the proceedings taken thereon until the judgment is satisfied in full, or its effectivity expires. The returns or periodic reports shall set forth the whole of the proceedings taken, and shall be filed with the court and copies thereof promptly furnished the parties.
In this case, Sheriff Bisnar submitted his Sheriff’s Return only last week, 16 March 2012, or almost 9 years after the supposed execution and public auction of the BGEI shares of stock to Carla Corona Castillo.
In fact, this Sheriff’s Return even exposes the irregularities done with respect to the supposed sale of BGEI’s shares of stock to Carla Corona-Castillo, to wit:
That on May 16, 2003 undersigned served the Writ of Execution together with the Notice of Garnishment to the accused Jose Ma. Basa and Ravmunda G. Basa and Virgilio Macaventa at their business address at c/o Basa-Guidote Enterprises, Inc. at No. 901 Lepanto St., Sampaloc, Manila thru Celebrada C. Pacdines, who claims to be a caretaker at said address who is of sufficient age and discretion to receive the Court Processes and who acknowledged receipt thereof as shown by her signature appearing on the lower left side of the Notice of Garnishment. Celebrada C. Pacdines said Jose M. Basa and Raymunda Gorospe Basa, and Virgilio Macaventa very seldom go to said address.
That on September 22, 2003 a Notice of Sheriff’s Sale was served to the accused Jose M. Basa, Raymunda G. Basa and Virgilio Macaventa at No. 901 Lepanto St. Sampaloc, Manila thru Rose Caguiwa one of the caretakers at said address who is of sufficient age and discretion to receive the court processes.
That on September 30, 2003 an Auction Sale for the 110 shares of stocks claimed by Raymundo G. Basa in Basa-Guidote Enterprises, Inc. and 4,729 shares of stocks claimed by Jose M. Basa in Basa Guidote Enterprises Inc. the highest / lone bidder was Carla Castillo who bidded Php 25, 000.00 for 4,729 shares of stocks in Basa Guidote Enterprises, Inc. and Php 3,000.00 for 110 shares of stocks in Basa Guidote Enterprises Inc.
That at the close of the Auction Sale, Carla Castillo paid the bid price of Php 28,000.00 to Mrs. Cristina Corona to which Mrs. Cristina Corona issued a Receipt.
As pointed out by the Prosecution, during the supposed auction sale of BGEI’s shares of stock, Cristina Corona supposedly received payment from her own daughter, Carla Corona-Castillo – mother and daughter paying each other.
Thus, based on the foregoing, there can be no doubt that these irregularities impugn the validity of the supposed transfer of BGEI’s shares of stock to Carla Corona-Castillo. Accordingly, Carla Corona-Castillo never owned the majority of BGEI’s shares of stock and therefore could not have ratified the sale of the BGEI Property to the City of Manila and the P11 Million loan to Corona.
Consequently, what can be inferred from the foregoing discussion is that Corona and his wife exerted all their efforts and influence to wrest control of the BGEI where they can hide their assets. Corona’s assets, which he hid under BGEI, should have been declared in his SALNs.
Thus, to recall the evidence presented by the Prosecution, PSBank Peso Account No. 089-121023848, with an opening balance of P17,000,000.00 and which was presented by the Prosecution, proves that Corona failed to disclose his equity/interests in BGEI, consistent with the allegations under Article II and paragraph 2.3 of the Impeachment Complaint, especially in light of the claims made by Corona that the deposit in said account, as well as his deposits in PSBank Peso Account No. 089-121019593 amounting to P12,580,316.56 and PSBank Peso Account No. 089-121021681 amounting to P7,148,238.83, all three (3) of which amount to P36,728,555.39 — and that were transferred on 12 December 2011 to PSBank Peso Account No. 089-101005094 amounting to P37,657,172.69 – were supposedly funds of BGEI from the previous sale of its property to the City of Manila.
If this is true, then Corona should have disclosed his and his wife’s equity interests in BGEI in his SALNs.
Owing to his high-level and influential positions in Government, it is clear that Corona was and is indispensable in allowing his wife to obtain absolute control over BGEI in violation of Philippine corporation laws and regulations, including the opportunity to surreptitiously sell the BGEI Property without the knowledge and consent of the other shareholders of the corporation. The extent of influence exerted by Corona is further affirmed by the fact that the Commission on Audit’s (COA) previous order of suspension questioning the purchase of the BGEI Property was never reiterated or implemented despite documented irregularities in the sale of said property.
Thus, the funds involving the sale of the BGEI Property and its non-disclosure in Corona’s SALNs are indicative of the lack of truthfulness thereof, which go into the allegations under Article II and paragraph 2.3 of the Impeachment Complaint because his lawful income could not have allowed him to accumulate that much wealth in any given year.