PALUSOT! That reverberated through the august halls of the Senate and through the consciousness of the masses (the Juan dela Cruz) more than the eloquent speech of the Defense who made their closing arguments based on technicalities. Ask the man on the street, the tricycle drivers, the sidewalk vendors, and they would tell you that they remember what palusot means more than the Foreign Currency Deposit Act and the SALN.
This is it, the culmination of the trial of the century, the Impeachment Trial of the Chief Justice of the Philippines. I’ve watched the proceedings since day one and blogged about it the past few months. Tomorrow, either it would be a CONVICTION or an ACQUITTAL. Conviction means that the chief justice of the Republic of the Philippines will be excused for good and can never come back to any government office.
I deliberately didn’t blog about last Friday’s hearing because I found it so weird seeing the CJ acting as if he hasn’t been in the ICU of the Medical City since that walkout he did last Tuesday. Credit him for apologizing to the Impeachment Court and to the Filipino people but insisting that it was not a walkout. He demanded the resignation of Ombudsman Morales but when he was asked if he will resign he said he will not. And signing that much talked-about waiver is too late in the day. If he was really sincere in doing so, why did it take him so long to sign it or was it just another delaying tactic so the trial would go on and on wasting people’s money in the process?
Okay, let’s start with day 43….
Tatang Cuevas, Atty.delos Santos and Atty. Dennis Manalo made the oral arguments for the Defense while Rep. Tupas, Rep.Farinas and Speaker Sonny Belmonte argued for the Prosecution. Atty. Quicho of the Defense said in an earlier interview that “We have nothing to lose, we have everything to gain.” Don’t be too sure Attorney, because the people are watching. There are two aspects that we could look into, the court of public opinion and the impeachment court. Is good faith in interpreting the law impeachable? Does moral fitness apply? My own take is this, since the judicial officers were not elected by the people and enjoy a longer term of office, shouldn’t they adhere to a stricter code of conduct and shouldn’t they be more morally fit to occupy the office entrusted to them? Shouldn’t they show a higher degree of integrity? Public office is a public trust so everyone say. The higher your office, the greater your responsibilities are and the more transparent you should be. Public trust implies a sense of duty and moral responsibility carry a greater weight, right?
Rep. Tupas, the chair of the Prosecution team was the first to speak. Reading from a prepared closing argument, he has these to say:
“We are called again to make a stand between right and wrong.”
“Tungkol saan po ba talaga ang Impeachment Trial na eto?” Focus was on the SALN and he said that Corona is no longer fit to head the judiciary. He did not present documentary proofs to back his testimony as regard to his peso account amounting to P80M and a dollar account of $2.4M.
“The question is, are Corona’s assets in his SALN? No.”
Tupas said that Corona’s interpretation of the law of confidentiality is disturbing. By what standard should Corona be judged?
“A dishonest public servant has shallow excuses. Is Chief Justice Renato Corona morally fit”. Same question I posted earlier.
“Let us decide in favor of truth and greatness.”
Atty. Eduardo delos Angeles started the argument on the Defense side. He emphasized that RA 6426 provides that all foreign currency deposits are absolutely confidential. The Defense said that unless the Bank Secrecy Law is amended, absolute confidentiality of bank deposits stays. Non-inclusion of certain bank accounts was not tainted with malice or fault, that he cannot be made answerable and should not be removed from office for minor breach of the law, that the failure to disclose the dollar accounts should not be considered as breach of trust. Huh?
Rep. Farinas did brilliant arguments by calling everything “palusot”. What I understand of the word is, it means alibi or excuse.
“We tend to contradict ourselves if we do not tell the truth.”
“Let us not be swayed by Corona’s alibi and drama.”
“To keep Corona will weaken the rule of law.”
Atty. Manalo of the Defense said that they never decide cases based on doubt. The camera caught some of the senators yawning and closing their eyes while Tatang Cuevas was speaking. The latter challenged the validity of the impeachment complaint. He said there was no due process. He kept on and on about technicalities but he was tongue-tied when Sen. Enrile asked “If sovereign command, will disobedience constitute culpable violation?” Enrile asked about risk if a public officer include deposit in his SALN. Cuevas said ” kidnapping & extortion.” If he fears for his life because he has lots of money, he shouldn’t have accepted the midnight appointment in the first place because it all boils down to it, the supposedly illegal way he was appointed by Arroyo a month before she left Malacanang.
Speaker Belmonte ended the oral argument by the Prosecution by saying:
“Corona wants to be exempted from the law. Shouldn’t he be the one to set an example for all of us?”
“Isn’t it disturbing that Judiciary’s highest official is himself the very person hiding behind the laws, bending justice?”
“Will we allow to continue in office someone who has betrayed the public trust?”
“Let the truth be your guide. Vote according to conscience and evidence”.
Okay, tomorrow would be judgment day. I really hope and pray that the senator-judges make a thorough assessment of their votes and that they make a proper discernment before casting their votes. Acquitted or not, this trial would go down to history that once a chief justice of the land was impeached and found guilty/innocent.