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Posts Tagged ‘Corona’s Impeachment’


I was buying pan de sal this morning at our village bakery when someone remarked, “ang bagal ng trial” (the trial is so slow). I smiled and asked her, “do you watch it everyday”? She said, it is eating a lot of her afternoons but she is curious how it would end. Then she volunteered her own two cents, “if he is not guilty, why not allow the Prosecution to present those evidences they have gathered, if he is not guilty and he is not hiding anything, then by all means show the people that he is not corrupt, that his conscience is clean”. 

For the man on the street, that’s how simple it would be, but the only way to evict a  Supreme Court justice is to have him impeached, right? And there is a process, rules of law that should be followed. “If I were him”, she said further, “I’ll save my face and just resign”.   My own sentiments, exactly.  They’ve been at it for the last seven days but every day, time is wasted on rhetorics. There is a continuing objection on Chief Justice Corona’s lawyers on the presentation of evidence that is meant to prove that there is an ill-gotten wealth.

BIR Commissioner  Kim Henares  was able to testify on the Income Tax Returns submitted by  the Coronas to the BIR, that one of his kids just earned a very minimal sum last 2009 and yet was able to buy a property worth 18M. For the common tao or observers like me, I would ask, “where did it all come from?”  I was reading Randy David’s byline on the Philippine Inquirer and I quote;

“When a high government official like the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court files his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, as required by law, is he not expected, like all government employees, to be truthful in his declaration? Does the mere act of filing satisfy the law? Is it irrelevant to inquire into the veracity of the statement?

It is absurd to think that the House prosecutors were charging Corona with simple failure to file his SALN.. No matter how poorly phrased the formal charges may be, it is obvious to anyone who cares to see that Corona is being charged not so much with failure to file is SALN, but with concealing the true extent and value of his assets.

Well said, Sir and this has been what they were arguing about the past three days, delaying the trial and wasting people’s money.  And if the Impeachment Court expects  the audience watching the trial to behave, at least those judges who think that they are above everyone else should also observe tact and proper behaviour and not just flaunt to everyone  that one is smarter and intelligent than the rest.

In the eyes of every Filipino, he has been judged, is he still fit to stay in the highest court of the land?

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By the way, here’s a summary of the Articles of  Impeachment  which was published by ABS CBN  news a few days ago. After four days of trial they are still under Article 2 bypassing Article 1 for future hearing.

Day 4, Case No. 0022011

Day 4 may be boring to some but for me, it’s the highlight of the last four days of the Impeachment trial.  The Prosecution were able to present only three witnesses today, Atty.  Randy Rutaquio, Register of Deeds of Taguig City, Atty. Carlo Alcantara, Register of Deeds of Quezon City and Atty. Segfrey Garcia, Register of Deeds of Marikina.  They came complete with the original TCTs  )Transfer Certificate of Title and CCTs (Condominium Certificate of Title), copies of which were marked by the Prosecution to ensure their veracity and existence.  These titles are not yet presented as evidences but the Defense panel seems to have lots of objections.  There were moments when the Defense had a continuing objections to every statement that the witnesses uttered. I am overwhelmed by the number of real  estate properties  listed in their names, in the names of their children and son-in-law.

I was curious when one of the anchors of ABS CBN mentioned that she has previously seen SALNs of other government officials and yet the declaration of properties acquired by in-laws  and children are not listed there and Atty. Vicky Avena, their resident political analyst said that under RA 6713, they are obliged.  I got curious  so I searched it on the net and here’s what it says.

So now we know and I am certainly learning a lot watching this hearing.

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Day 3  – The Chief Justice Trial

Wow, they are supposed to tackle Article 2, 1 and 7 of the Articles of  Impeachment but until now after two long recess, they have only touched Article 2 which is the presentation of Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) by CJ Corona.  Cuevas, head of the Defense panel made a manifestation on the sequence on the Articles of Impeachment and said further that they were not dealing with the impeachment proceedings to satisfy the common man. I don’t know where he was coming from, it’s good Enrile said that they can’t waste time on mere technicalities and ruled that they  proceed and comply with Article 2. The first court witness was the clerk of court of the Supreme Court Enriquetta Vidal. It was Atty. Mario Bautista, the lead private prosecutor who questioned their first witness. Enrile, however, reminded him that he had the tendency to cross-examine the witness which was improper and they cannot impeach their own witness.  The Prosecution failed in commanding the witness to produce the SALN because she said that she was not in the position to do so.

Now this is the fun part because everyone watching probably reacted too on how some of the senator judges interpellated  Supreme Court’s  clerk of court Vidal. It was Sen. Drilon who asked her if she will bring the SALN or not. Actually Sen. Drilon saved the day for the Prosecution with his intelligent query. Maybe, Vidal was not so much impressed by Atty. Mario Bautista but when it was the senators’ turn to question her she finally admitted that she brought said record with her but was in a quandary whether she was doing the right thing in turning it over  to the Impeachment Court. She was apprehensive to submit it without Supreme Court’s  authorization. Being the custodian, Enrile said that she should produce it since they should not be impeded by any branch of the government in performing their duties.  Sen.  Joker Arroyo suggested that she be given one day to seek  SC’s authorization. Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano said that it is not a request but an order of the Impeachment Court. Sen. Kiko Pangilinan said that  seeking SC authorization would undermine the power of the Impeachment Court.  Sen. Francis Escudero assured the witness Vidal that the subpoena issued by the IC is a valid defense. I love the  way  Sen. Jinggoy Estrada  took the floor and urged Vidal to obey the subpoena of the IC . He seems funny at times but he makes sense.  Kung wala nga namang itinatago, bakit hindi ipakita? (if there is nothing to hide, why not show it?) The presiding Judge, Sen. Enrile reiterated that the subpoena is not a request but an order. The Impeachment Court is a different body, not co-equal to the Supreme Court.  Sen. Pimentel added that if she ever goes to court to defend herself, he was sure there would be many lawyers to volunteer to defend her. That probably prompted Vidal to finally submit the SALN and for both Prosecutor and Defense to mark it as exhibits. And it is interesting to note that right after Vidal turned over the SALN to the Impeachment Court, Atty.  Marquez,  the spoke person for the Supreme Court held a media briefing saying that there never was any hesitation on their part to have said documents shared with the public and that long before the trial started,  the Supreme Court Justice  allowed it.  If that was the case, why was Vidal in a quandary and confused about turning over the SALN to the IC and kept repeating that she needed the  authority of her big boss?

The Defense’ head lawyer Atty. Cuevas said that Vidal may be subjected to criminal charges because of what she did but Sen. Enrile asked him that he should explain to Corona the need to submit the SALN. After more than thirty  minutes of recess, they assumed session  at around 4:40pm only to stop again after a minute for a long, long one hour recess.  They presented the second witness Marianito Dimaandal who is in charge of keeping the SALN of Corona in Malacanang.  He presented certified true copies of SJ Corona’s SALN from 1992  to 2002 which he could not even say are truly authentic.

It was  an exciting third day, a day where everyone learned something about disclosing public documents for public scrutiny which in this case is the SALN.  It must be too hard on Vidal to make that final decision to turn over the SALN which she brought to court. The agony of being a witness, the fear  of saying something that would trigger the ire of the Senator judges or the Prosecution or even the Defense. She was composed but you could see in her expression that she was afraid.  The idea of presenting the SALN is for the Prosecution team to establish whether what Corona  filed was true and correct and to establish if he really was capable of acquiring those assets which are part of the articles of his impeachment. And this may take a long time.

I wonder how long this would take, but it surely makes TV afternoon viewing truly interesting.  The Prosecution should really do its assignment and  prepare itself  for another battle with the seasoned and experienced trial lawyers of the Defense. We are speaking of tax money here which could be channelled  somewhere else if not for this Impeachment trial.

Ride on Day 4!

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And here I was, prepared to sit in front of the television for four hours, at least!

I have just watched Day 2 of the Impeachment proceedings.  I was so looking forward how it would proceed today but I was disappointed when it ended two hours after it started. I am not a lawyer, I am just an ordinary Filipino citizen who is interested  in what is happening around and 12 units in basic Law subjects would not even be enough for me to fully understand all the legal hullabaloo.

Case Number 0022011, 2nd Day 2:06pm

The prosecution wanted to tackle Corona’s alleged failure to disclose  his  Statement of Assets and Liabilities  and Net worth (SALN) at the start of the proceedings. The Impeachment Court denied the request by the Prosecution to have Corona and his family appear in court. The Impeachment Court said that Corona cannot be expected to testify against himself. Likewise his family cannot be summoned to testify against Corona. Sen.Cayetano expressed his reservations on the decision of the Impeachment Court to deny summons for Corona and his family. He disagreed with the decision to reject the summons. They had a thirty-minute adjournment and voted on the motion to summon the Corona family. It was a 14-6 vote in favor of the ruling. Earlier on, Sen. Enrile has agreed to subpoena the Register of Deeds. Further, the Impeachment Court denied  the defense’ motion to exclude private prosecutions.

Presentation of Evidence

The Prosecution which was represented by Rep. Barzaga. He  asked the Impeachment Court if they could start with the 2nd article of impeachment  since  according to him, and based on public opinions and media news, they are interested in knowing if the properties allegedly owned by Corona are truly his. Cuevas, representing the Defense argued about the manner of presentation and that public opinion should be disregarded.  And he also said that the sequence of evidence should not be changed. They were not ready to present evidence for article one when Enrile asked why they were starting with article two. Sen. Arroyo said that they cannot limit which article is to be discussed.  The Prosecution was  ready to present computer-generated certified true copies of TCTs (Transfer Certificate of  Title) as evidentiary materials but the Defense was  not ready to cross-examine. They were at an impasse so the hearing was postponed until tomorrow.

If this was a boxing match, this time the Defense scored a point. I greatly admire Sen.Pres. Enrile in the way he is conducting this Impeachment trial.  He surely knows his job. And I hope that in the next few days, there would be  a fair and orderly trial. At least by tomorrow, the two sides would be ready to present  and cross-examine said evidences. I want to know if the computer generated evidences are already authenticated by the Register of Deeds since  the  court have just issued subpoena to the Register of Deeds. My question is, if you were on the side of the Prosecution and you are the one who ask for postponement because you are not ready, wouldn’t that give a wrong signal to the people following the trial? In my lowly understanding on what transpired today, when you are in a battle, you should have enough ammunitions, right?

Day 3, here we go!

 

 

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I normally don’t watch television but this is one of those times that I was glued to the TV screen this afternoon and watched the opening of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.  I remember the last time I sat and watched TV everyday which was during the impeachment of then Pres. Joseph Estrada late year 2000. It  paved the way for him to go to jail for several years. The lead defense lawyer is Atty. Serafin Cuevas while that of the prosecution is Atty. Mario Bautista. It was  a swift one-hour presentation of oral arguments by both sides.  Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., House prosecution head was happy about the outcome of the first day of the impeachment trial. He emphasized some points in his opening speech by saying that no one is beyond public accountability and that Corona was a loyal servant of former Pres. Arroyo. He said further that the Chief Justice received rewards for loyalty to Arroyo.

Corona, a former Chief of Staff of Arroyo, was appointed by the latter as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court before she stepped down from office.  There is a constitutional ban on midnight appointments but Corona accepted the post.

They have changed the rules, learning from the impeachment trial of Ex-Pres. Estrada. Let’s see  how it goes when they go back to court tomorrow. Here’s the opening statement of  Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.  I am quoting it verbatim here:

Opening Statement of the Senate President
The Honorable Juan Ponce Enrile
At the commencement of the Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona

16 January 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate and our beloved countrymen,

Today, we begin to perform a solemn task that the sovereign people, through the Constitution they ordained, have reposed upon us, the Senators of the Republic. We convene as a body of jurors to try and render judgment on the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court under the Articles of Impeachment filed with the Senate by 188 members of the House of Representatives.

The task at hand is a constitutional mandate and duty which we have no discretion to postpone or evade. As jurors, it is our obligation and responsibility to closely and diligently examine the evidence and the facts to be presented before us, to determine whether such evidence and facts sufficiently and convincingly support the charges, and ultimately, to decide the fate of no less than the Chief Justice of the Highest Court of the land, and the head of a co-equal branch of our government.

The Constitution recognizes a distinct class of public officers, elected or appointed, that include the President, the Vice-President, the members of the Supreme Court, the members of Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman, who, unlike the rest of the public officials in various positions in government, may only be removed from office through the process of impeachment. These men and women in the highest and most sensitive echelons of government may only be removed upon conviction for culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes and betrayal of public trust – no more, no less.

Hence, by its very nature, the work we are about to do is unique. It is a rendition of justice outside our traditional judicial system and it carries with it a grave and serious responsibility. It deviates from our ordinary or normal functions and duties as legislators. The House of Representatives impeaches on the basis of its determination of the sufficiency of the charges both in form and in substance, and of the existence of probable cause, while the Senate bears the sole responsibility to try and decide whether to convict or to acquit the respondent in an impeachment case, that is, whether or not the respondent official deserves to be removed from the office he or she occupies, based on the grounds dictated in the Constitution.

While it has often been said that, by and large, the trial in an impeachment case is political in nature, nonetheless, such is neither an excuse nor a license for us to ignore and abandon our solemn and higher obligation and responsibility as a body of jurors to see to it that the Bill of Rights are observed and that justice is served, and to conduct the trial with impartiality and fairness, to hear the case with a clear and open mind, to weigh carefully in the scale the evidence against the respondent, and to render to him a just verdict based on no other consideration than our Constitution and laws, the facts presented to us, and our individual moral conviction.

I would like to remind the opposing sides, my colleagues, as well as the public and the media, that this trial will be governed by the Rules we have adopted. I therefore urge everyone to fully cooperate in the orderly conduct of these proceedings in accordance with the Rules, to demonstrate civility and to observe the decorum that is required for us to carry out our respective duties with dispatch, with honor and with dignity.

As I preside over this impeachment trial, allow me to assure one and all that I am committed and determined to see this process all the way to its completion. Let us finish the job, for our Oath demands no less from us.

Although the ostensible respondent in the trial before us is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, we cannot escape the reality that, in a larger sense, the conduct of this trial and its outcome will necessarily have a serious impact on the entire nation. Its success or failure to achieve the purpose for which the Constitution has provided this mechanism as part of our system of checks and balances and of public accountability, may spell the success or failure of our democratic institutions, the strengthening or weakening of our sense of justice as a people, our stability or disintegration as a nation, and the triumph or demise of the rule of law in our land.

The people’s faith in the Senate of the Republic, the image and the very fabric of our nation and our democratic system are at stake. Let us all take heed of the seriousness of this challenge and invoke the divine guidance of the Almighty God to enlighten our minds and guide our conscience in discharging faithfully our sacred duty.

May God provide us with sufficient physical strength, intellectual keenness, and moral courage to render justice in the case before us on the basis of the law, our honest perception and understanding of the facts, and in accordance with the dictates of our individual conscience.

Thank you.

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