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Posts Tagged ‘Impeachment Trial of CJ Corona’


Caught the Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile  this morning being interviewed by Karen Davila on Headstart at ANC. And I can’t resist quoting his words:

“I stretched the rules of evidence in favor of the Defense, so they would not complain of  grave abuse of discretion on our part.”

“In the beginning I was trying to give the Chief Justice the benefit of the doubt.”

“I don’t understand why the Defense called the Ombudsman and they could not even qualify if she is a hostile witness.”

“No legal or financial mind can invent the content of the AMLC document.”

“I will not accuse him of lying but they were not ready to bring the quantum of evidence needed to explain Corona’s assets.”

“There was some degree of inconsistency in the totality of Corona’s defense.”

“He was measured and I think he failed.”

“He was appointed at Chief Justice, I would presume he was fit as a lawyer to hold the position.”

“I based my decision on evidence. I studied the Corona case more than the Prosecutors and Defense.”

Oh, and I just love it when he said that he made a listing of the Senators who will vote during the judgment then he pulled out the list  from  his wallet and showed it to Karen Davila. It’s a list of the committed, the uncommitted (his name was included here) and the three names for acquittal. He was right on target, the three names appeared to be Arroyo, Marcos and Santiago.

Nice penmanship Manong.  Let me continue:

“Supreme Court cannot review our decision. The Senate Impeachment Court is outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.”

He said further that the president cannot appoint an outsider. They should come from the remaining fourteen members of the Supreme Court. He was asked whose speech he liked the most when the senators explained their votes and he said: “Lito Lapid”. He will support VP Binay for president in 2016 but unsure of who will be his VP, saying that either Escudero or Estrada would be okay. He loves reading and memorizing poems and watching old films on TV.  He’s 88 years old  but his mind is so sharp. Nice job Manong Johnny!

(thanks again ANC for the grabbed pic and to Phil. Inquirer for JPE’s photo)

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It’s 20-3 !

The verdict – GUILTY

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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.

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Okay, okay, I won’t bore you with what happened to the impeachment trial. I am sure you have read and watched what happened on the Senate floor yesterday afternoon. Suffice to say, I am making a list of all the twenty-three senators since by Monday or Tuesday at the latest, they would release the verdict on CJ Corona and they would have to explain their votes so you better come prepared or are you also taking a survey whether it’s an acquittal or a conviction?  Let’s see how our good senators would use the evidences on hand and not be swayed by political affiliations. So, here’s the list of our esteemed senators who would decide on the fate of the chief  justice come Tuesday:

Edgardo J. Angara
Joker P. Arroyo
Alan Peter S. Cayetano
Pia S. Cayetano
Franklin M. Drilon
Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada

Francis Joseph G. Escudero
Teofisto L. Guingona III

Gregorio B. Honasan II
Panfilo M. Lacson
Manuel M. Lapid
Loren B. Legarda
Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Sergio R. Osmeña III
Francis N. Pangilinan
Aquilino Pimentel III
Juan Ponce Enrile
Ralph G. Recto
Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr.
Miriam Defensor-Santiago
Vicente C. Sotto III
Antonio F. Trillanes IV
Manuel B. Villar, Jr.

It’s been a while since I actually read a book because the last few days, my time was focused on the Impeachment Trial, I am glad that it’s coming to a close.  And it’s been a while since  I read a historical and a romance novel at that. This one though was more focused on history, about Russian prince and princess, British commoners and aristocrats, it actually has all the ingredients of a nice read but I won’t make a book review here. I just found a copy, Splendor by Brenda Joyce in our shelves, probably an earlier find of my daughter.  If you could stay reading until 1am then the book is arresting don’t you think?  I did just that last night and finished the last few chapters this afternoon.  I am tempted to start another book by Rick Jordan but I haven’t finished Cell yet by Stephen King. I actually got bored in the middle of reading it.  There are books and there are books but sometimes no matter how  good an author is, it just won’t  make you sit for long and  pour your attention on every page.  This morning I received a call from my youngest brother and we talked about books and e-reader. I told him a friend asked me if I want a Nook but I said it’s not a priority at the moment.  He said that there is a new version of the Kindle, the Kindle Fire selling at $199.00. I need a little more convincing if I want to shift from a real book to a color tablet. Maybe in a year or two, when we no longer have enough space for books, I’ll entertain the idea but not…right now!

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My head aches just thinking of what happened today at the Impeachment trial of CJ Corona. Gosh, it was a pathetic gesture of a man desperate enough to hold on to his position.  Here are his  famous last words, “And now the Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines wishes to be excused”. Such arrogance, unbecoming of the highest officer of the court of the land. And he should know the law because he is the chief justice.

Here’s what really happened on day 40.

Mom and I waited with bated breath as early as 1pm. It’s democracy in action here, giving a chance to an accused to defend himself and clear his name.  Some political analysts said it’s a make or break , the end game so to speak. Take note, this is the second time that the senator-judges are in complete attendance. The Impeachment Court ruled that they cannot issue a subpoena on the bank managers, Enrile rejected the motion. At 2:15pm, the Chief Justice appeared in court. Atty. Mario Bautista, a private lawyer of the Prosecution will conduct the cross-examination. As usual, Atty. Cuevas made manifestations that lengthened the wait for the CJ to testify. I say, get to the point Attorney!  The CJ was frightened and confused, according to Tatang Cuevas.  He said further that cross-examination should only tackle matters covered by direct examination. Enrile assured Defense of the IC’s neutrality. They will judge the case based on the evidences presented by both sides.  Allow me to quote some points raised by the Chief Justice when he was at the witness stand. This is the first time that I’ve seen a witness making a statement that long. He actually used up more than two hours reading his prepared statement with a few complaints raised by the Prosecution but Enrile allowed him to just finish his speech. He was accorded the liberality  by the Impeachment Court with unlimited scope and duration.  He said that the Aquino government used all its forces and avenues to pin him down. It was a long telenovela without ending.

Walang takot, walang nerbiyos

Ako ay hindi magnanakaw sa gobyerno

Malinis po ang aking konsensiya

Malinis po ang konsensiya ng aking pamilya

Yan po ang pinagdadaanan namin ngayon, kalbaryo po

Malakas ang loob kong lumaban kasi po malinis ang aking konsensiya

Lahat po ng aming ari-arian ay pinaghirapan sa isang malinis na paraan.

Hindi po kailan man kami namuhay ng maluho

Ang mga akusasiyon nila sa akin ay pawang kathang-isip lamang

Atty. Mario Bautista said that this was a highly irregular chief  justice taking advantage of this platform. Corona mentioned in his opening statement about people and events not directly related to the case. But Enrile allowed him to continue, that was how lenient they were to the CJ.

Hindi kami gumagamit ng aircon kasi madali kaming magkasakit sa lamig

Hindi kami namili ng magagarang property these past 45 years

He talked about how the Basas (some of them were in the audience)  deprived his mother-in-law of her legal rights  on their 2 hectare property worth 2.5B pesos in Libis, Quezon City. That was a family feud that dragged on for years. Enrile reminded him that there was no allegation that will support ill-gotten wealth. The evidence on the supposed ill-gotten wealth came from the Defense. The issue was simply the inclusion and exclusion in the SALN. Enrile cautioned Corona on opening himself to cross-examination on ill-gotten wealth.  Corona further discussed his cash deposits as reported by AMLC  but he said that it came from a polluted source.  The $12M dollar in his bank account as testified to by Ombudsman Carpio was a malicious lie. He has only four dollar accounts and has only three deposit accounts. He said that they started investing in dollars since the late 60′s and the money has multiplied after several decades. He challenged the 188 congressmen and Sen. Drilon that they also make a waiver as regards their dollar accounts. That was his condition, he signed a waiver and will give it to the Impeachment Court if  they will do the same.

I am no thief. I am no criminal. I did no wrong.

Yes you did no wrong except to stage that walkout on the trial. Did you think that all your Defense team would follow suit? You almost earned my respect because you did a brilliant monologue/presentation but what you did was unbecoming of the highest officer of the court of the Philippines.  You should have also respected that you were in an Impeachment Court, not your turf obviously but still, it was just proper to give them your respect too.

If you ask me, the CJ is in a tight bind here. Enrile asked the Defense team to present him tomorrow for the cross-examination, otherwise all his statements earlier would be stricken off from the ICs records.  And that walkout and hypoglycemic episode  capped the day. Bakit kaya ang mga nililitis pag na corner na sila, eh lumalabas na maysakit?

If you missed out on this, check this out.

(thank you ANC 24/7 for this picture)

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It’s the day I am looking forward to. Moment of truth or moment of shame? Find it out later at 2pm – CJ Corona’s Impeachment trial!

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I am actually at a loss for words as I write this.  And I am playing some of their songs on YouTube while doing this blog. One need not introduce the Bee Gees because apart from the Beatles, they’re also one of the most influential groups while I was growing up. Back in the 60′s when I was in grade school, my dad used to have those round flat disks which they called 45  then LPs (long-playing records) followed suit. If you ask me, I guess the 60′s has the most number of  music artists and singers that ever graced the music world. And the era was so rich with unforgettable music including The British Invasion. Ano ang pamana ni Lady Gaga?

Okay, okay, I am feeling so nostalgic that I want to play all the popular Bee Gees music.  Here are some of their well-known songs that catapulted them to fame during the 60′s. Thanks to those who uploaded them on YouTube. Got this particular album Best of Bee Gees on cassette but I don’t know where it is now because we no longer have cassette record player.

Know what I mean? Before you know it, you’ll be humming the same tunes long after you’ve heard them. That’s what you call LSS to the max. I am also looking forward to tomorrow’s hearing on the Chief Justice’s trial. Finally, CJ Corona will grace the witness stand to prove that  whatever wealth he has accumulated during his term of office as a government employee has been included in his SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) which is a requirement for them to file every year. It does not matter how much, whether it is a mere P10.00 pesos or $10,000,000.00 dollars, the Filipino people have a right to know the truth.  Always remember this, the truth will set you free and you can sleep well knowing that you’re not hiding anything.

Good luck Jessica Sanchez. Show them  all that you’ve got what it takes to be a champion.  Make the Filipinos proud. Let’s hope that you’ll also find time to visit the Philippines because I am sure you will be welcomed with open arms.

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Mark this on your calendar – Tuesday, May 22, 2012. It’s Corona’s turn to clear his name.  Finally!

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I must admit that since the re-opening of Corona’s impeachment trial last week, my afternoons are being eaten up  staying in front of the TV and making notes of the unfolding drama right before my eyes. It’s more than a teleserye because you can’t even predict the ending and the characters seem to change clothes as fast as they can say, Your honor.  There is this  lady senator who acts like maamong tupa one moment and a raging volcano the next.  And the faces of the Defense team, Tatang Cuevas makes me really laugh sometimes.  Kidding aside, I learned a lot the past two days  and it does help that my experience  as a bank employee for more than twenty-one years made me  more appreciative of the ongoing trial. Bank transactions  – deposits, withdrawals,  bank transfers,  ending balances, AMLC, they’re  familiar enough .

DAY 37

Yesterday was day 37  of the Corona impeachment trial and the senator judges were in complete attendance (for the first time, I think).  Last week, one of the lawyers of the Defense told the Impeachment Court that CJ Corona agreed to testify at a  later date and they asked  Enrile to issue a subpoena to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on the alleged $10M  dollar account of Corona.  They wanted to prove that such account does not exist.  Morales would be a hostile witness for the Defense.  She arrived at the Senate  before 2pm and she was the first witness to testify for the day.  Cuevas recalled that she was the only one who dissented to the appointment of Corona as Chief Justice in 2010 on what was considered a midnight appointment made by Arroyo. When Morales received a complaint regarding some dollar accounts of Corona, she wrote to the latter to explain about it and sought the assistance of the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) and formed a panel to act on the complaint. She started a fact-finding investigation  and was able to obtain materials relevant to the complaint.  She explained that she was just discharging  her mandate. The Defense has moved to consider her as a hostile witness so Enrile declared the Ombudsman as a hostile witness to the Defense.

Cuevas has finally met his match. It was a verbal tussle between two former justices of the highest court of the land.  And the thing is, the Defense team thought Morales’ testimony would strengthen Corona’s case but it did the opposite, it backfired on them.  Morales was able to obtain a 17-page report from AMLC  detailing the dollar trail of the  various Corona accounts consisting of about  $10M deposited in five banks.  I would like to point out that the Anti Money Laundering Act (R.A. 9160)  criminalizes money laundering, creates a financial intelligence unit (FIU), imposes requirements on customer identification, record-keeping and reporting of covered and suspicious transactions, relaxes strict bank deposit secrecy laws and provides for freezing/seizure/forfeiture recovery of dirty money/property.
It was later amended by R.A. 9194.

Katarungan at Katotohanan – Day 38

Sen. Pimentel in his interview prior to the start of the hearing said that AMLC should explain  the report on Corona accounts.  Ombudsman Morales showed in her second day of  testifying before the Impeachment Court  a  power point presentation of the summary of US$ inflow  in Corona’s account from April 14, 2003 to December 22, 2011 amounting to $12,155,350.86.  Staggering? Questionable?  Suspicious? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, only he can explain where this huge amount came from.  Morales mentioned that Corona made significant deposits and withdrawals during the 2004 and 2007 elections and the week of his impeachment last December 2011.  It’s interesting to note that Bank of the Philippine Islands where I used to work issued this statement since it was mentioned as one of the banks where Corona maintains his account:

Bank of the Philippine Islands
Statement re: Corona Impeachment Trial

“In the banking industry, our relationship with our depositors is built on trust. We cannot build and sustain this trust if we do not adhere to and observe the time-honored banker and depositor confidentiality, subject of course, to certain exceptions provided for by law. At the moment, we cannot make a comment on the alleged dollar accounts with us.”

BPI is not actually denying that Corona has a dollar  account with the bank .  Oh yes, Justice Cuevas, hindi na uso ang passbook. BPI has been using ATM cards since the 80′s :) And here’s  a complete summary on what happened on Day 38. It’s an ABS CBN news blog. Thanks ABS CBN!

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Trite as it may sound, I actually missed the Impeachment trial. For almost a month, our senator-judges were on recess so the impeachment resumed only yesterday (day 35).  Sen. Sotto gave a recap on the previous days of the impeachment trial.  Last March 22, Justice Secretary de Lima sent a letter saying that she cannot testify and on May 4, the Prosecution filed a motion to quash on the appearance of de Lima. Senate Pres. Enrile ruled that the motion was denied, and allowed the Defense to summon DOJ  Sec. de Lima to testify again.  But things have changed, this afternoon, one of the Defense lawyers  Jose Roy III said that they might not need to present de Lima after all.

It’s  quite interesting to note that whereas before, the Prosecution team earned the ire of Senate Pres. Enrile for being unprepared, this time, it’s the Defense’ turn to receive admonition  and frequent banging of gavel from Sen. Enrile. He said that all witnesses presented yesterday during the resumption of the trial were irrelevant to the Article 2 of the impeachment.  “If you think there is no case presented before this Court, that’s your problem. I guarantee that we’ll give you a fair trial”, Enrile said to the Defense. Nothing much has been discussed yesterday because the Defense  was  not ready to present more witnesses so the trial was adjourned early.

There was quite a big difference though on what happened today. The trial started with Sen. Angara making a manifestation as regard to the Defense motion that he inhibits from the proceedings since his son, Rep. Sonny Angara is a spokesperson of the Prosecution team.  He said and I quote: “I consider it as a constitutional duty on my part to act as a judge & no argument can convince me I should inhibit.”  He reiterated that  he had no hand in his son Rep. Sonny Angara being chosen as one of spokespersons for the Prosecution.

It was Defense lawyer Roy who conducted the direct examination of the  first witness of the day, Atty. Lucita Cristi, RTC Clerk of Court to prove ownership of Basa Guidote Enterprises. Cristi testified that there were two libel cases against the Basa family but before the final  court order, the principal against the case  Jose Ma. Basa  died  and the Prosecution questioned why there was still a motion for execution when law says that the death of the accused frees him from any  civil and criminal liability.  It seemed that the wife of the chief justice had again a hand in this because these two cases  prompted the shares of stock of the Basa group to be auctioned publicly.  Next witness was Sheriff Joseph Bisnar  and he was there to prove that the Basa shares of stocks consisting of about  4, 839 were auctioned as a result of Mrs. Corona’s kin, the Basas  losing in the libel case. And this is the most interesting part. The public auction was only attended by CJ Corona’s daughter Carla Castillo,  her mom and her lawyer. Castillo bought the shares at only P28,000.00  but the par value of the shares  and actual worth was almost half a million making her the majority shareholder  by having more than 90% of the total ownership of the Basa group (Basa Guidote Enterprises).  Money changed hands between daughter and mother with the latter acting as the executor. Any right-thinking individual would ask, if it was a public auction, why was it that there was only one bidder?  And the bid price was so undervalued.

It seemed that getting Bisnar as a witness backfired on the Defense. He didn’t even know that Jose Ma. Basa died prior to issuing the writ of execution. He belongs to the judicial branch of the government and yet he was not so sure about Corona being the Associate Justice around the time the sale was done.  Prosecution pointed out that writ of execution should not have been implemented because the accused is dead.  The Prosecution took more time questioning the witness than the direct examination by the Defense. They did their homework coming out and eliciting more facts about the sale of such stocks which seemed to be questionable.  And here’s the bombshell, a positive one if you ask me, Roy said that Corona told him that he is willing to testify. Yahoo, when will that be, the people are waiting. Senator Lacson suggested that Corona make a waiver on his dollar accounts because they fear that when the time comes that the latter presents himself to the court, he might invoke his right to self-incrimination and the bank secrecy law. Roy said that if the  Impeachment Court is inclined that they  should address the  issue of $10M,  which is now pending  in  the Ombudsman, then they will willingly confront the issue.  Sen. Enrile said to the Defense that “any asset, regardless of whether legally or illegally obtained, is a function of the SALN.

I’ll wait for the day when the Chief Justice will have his day in court, defending himself  and proving to each  and every Filipino that he deserves an acquittal, not a conviction.

In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. 
-Albert Einstein 

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