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Posts Tagged ‘CJ Corona’


Would it be proper now if we just call him plain “Attorney”?

For the past five months, I’ve been so focused on  the impeachment trial  that I forgot the weeds growing in my  garden and they look so ugly interspersed with my blooming and healthy peanut grass.  Judgment has been rendered and the Filipino people are happy that democracy still works in our country.  The telenovela is over, not all are satisfied though with the ending because they are talking about the possibility of  filing a petition for review before the Supreme Court. We’ve heard before the rendering of the verdict that both Prosecution and Defense would abide by the outcome of the voting.  And one election lawyer even said that the verdict was incomplete because Senator Enrile, the  presiding officer of the IC did not read in his closing speech the penalty for an impeached chief justice.  As far as I know, “it shall not go farther than removal from public office and perpetual disqualification from public office”. He won’t be imprisoned but he could kiss public office goodbye.

Had he just resigned from office, he could have saved himself and his family the humiliation and the ordeal of leaving the Supreme Court in shame.  It could  have been a graceful exit and  he could have endeared himself more to the people who still believe that he is innocent . But he chose to stay, holding on to the last minute. In his dramatic walkout from the Impeachment Court last Tuesday, May 22 he said in arrogance, “And now the Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines wishes to be excused”. He is now excused forever. Quo vadis CJ?

Let us move on and let us move forward. If there is one positive thing that we learned from all this, at least now, transparency in a public office is a must and I’d like to thank him for initiating the signing of a waiver (unconditionally this time although a bit too late to save him) but at least it triggered something that all government employees from the highest officer of the land down to the lowest  barangay councilor must be compelled to sign a waiver too in case their personal assets would be questioned in the future. If you have nothing to hide, why be afraid?

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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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It took  all of 26 minutes before the 41st day of trial adjourned. There were 22 senators  present and guess who was conspicuously absent. Hmm…Tatang Cuevas wore black, a change from his usual  white and off-white formal suit of the past. Bear with me, I am just making you laugh but the trial is no laughing matter though.

Will there be a mistrial? (I bet the Impeachment Court won’t allow that).  Was the CJ buying time knowing what he did yesterday? (Your guess is as good as mine).  Was the walkout scripted?  (Hmm, watch the videos and tell me if it was). His parting words, the way they were delivered yesterday were more of a statement than asking the Impeachment Court to be excused from the trial.  It seemed that he read it from the last part of his long, long, long opening statement.  Did he really plan not to subject himself to cross-examination by just walking out? Even non-lawyers like me understand that what he did was a total disrespect for the Impeachment Court, an unacceptable behaviour of  someone who should know and is expected to know the rules because, he is,  after all, the chief justice right?

Early in our younger years, we were taught to say, “Ma’am/Sir, may I go out”, if we feel the urge to satisfy the call of nature and we have to wait for a yes from our teacher to be able to run  and do our thing outside. Suffice to say, the CJ could have asked politely that he was tired and begged to be excused  for a while and I am pretty sure the IC would have granted his request.

In an earlier interview on Headstart, Senator-Judge Pia Cayetano was so stunned to see how the CJ behaved and she surmised that the CJ both wanted to be a witness and a jury. In his testimony, he said that he owns dollar accounts but never divulged the amount and he saw no point in including these in his SALNs because he was protected by the Foreign Currency Deposit Act. Senator-Judge Pangilinan however, emphasized that if there is a conflict between the Constitution (the filing of SALN and proper disclosure of assets, liabilities and net worth) and a law which is the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, then the Constitution will prevail. Being a CJ, he certainly knew it.

The trial started at 2:05pm with Tatang Cuevas making a manifestation  and explaining the absence of their client from trial today, the stumbling block being the mental and physical condition of the latter because he is presently confined at the ICU of the Medical City Hospital. The Defense submitted a copy of the medical certificate and they cannot assure when the CJ is coming to face direct and cross-examinations. The Prosecution manifested that if the CJ will only come back for the cross-examination then they would waive their right to cross-examine but if the Defense would do a direct, then they will proceed with the cross.  Enrile made a ruling and gave the Defense until Friday to present Corona and oral argument was scheduled on  Monday. At the latest, they would render decision on Tuesday. The senator-judges touched on the conditional waiver issued by Corona that he will only submit it if the 188 congressmen who signed the impeachment and Sen. Drilon would submit theirs. As I’ve said, who is on trial here? Do you think that is a wise move CJ or just another delaying tactic on your part?  They will have their day in court if they would be found guilty of the same thing. I just find it a bit ridiculous that  for you to divulge your hidden wealth, you have to drag down everyone who is not on trial as you are.  . But I am still praying that you get well soon and face the music…we are waiting!

And here’s the latest news on TV:

Retired Maj. Gen. Jose Balajadia Jr.(the Senate’s Sgt-At-Arms) said he personally stopped Corona and his wife while they were trying to exit through a door at the back of the session hall near the senators’ lounge with their bodyguards.

“I’m sorry, sir,” Balajadia recalled telling Corona after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile ordered all doors in the Senate to be locked.

Corona then retorted, “Are you arresting me?”

“He was looking at me straight in the eye,” Balajadia said.

He said he tried to explain Enrile’s order to Corona, but his wife, Cristina, interrupted him.

“Is this martial law?” she reportedly told Balajadia.

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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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