Tag Archives: Impeachment Trial

Senate Breakdowns and Policy Failures

After admirably discharging its duties during the impeachment trial, the Senate has committed a number of unfathomable policy blunders.

Following the conclusion of the impeachment trial of the chief justice in May, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s net satisfaction rating shot up by 17% pts to 65% in the Social Weather Station’s August survey. It was only two points shy of President Noynoy Aquino’s net satisfaction rating of 67%.

The same survey showed that Filipinos gave a net satisfaction rating of 67% (74% satisfied, 7% dissatisfied) to the Senate as an institution. This was an improvement from the 49% rating it received back in May. Such was the public’s admiration for the stature which the senate president lent to the proceedings of the impeachment that his son, Congressman Jackie Enrile became a leading contender in the race for a senate seat in 2013.

If that same survey were to be conducted today, you would doubt very much whether the senate would continue to enjoy such strong support from the public. A series of own-goals coming from its members may have just brought those ratings crashing right back down to Mother Earth. And the reason for this? Well, let us just put it down to institutional fragility. Let me explain.

First came the Scarborough Shoal incident that featured Senator Antonio Trillanes crossing wires with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario over the defusion of tensions with China. Having been in Beijing at the time, the junior senator claims to have been approached by Chinese officials to act as a “back channel” to the Aquino administration.

Trillanes claims credit for the withdrawal of Chinese navy vessels from the area, when in fact as the New York Times reported, it was the US that intervened. Be that as it may, this put the junior senator at odds with the Senate President who engaged with him in a verbal tit-for-tat on the floor of the upper house resulting in a walk-out by the impetuous Trillanes.

Not only that, but by using the contents of Ambassador Brady’s notes to grill the former lieutenant about his dealings in China, the senate president could have been in breach of diplomatic protocol himself by divulging the contents of such confidential minutes.

Then came the Cyber Crime Prevention Act, a law which is under Judicial Review for sections that appear to impinge on the bill of rights enshrined in the constitution. According to Raissa Robles, the final version of the Senate and the bicameral conference committee is to blame for this. The onerous provisions inserted by some senators on things such as “cyber-libel” gave it a distasteful element to those who value freedom of expression.

How such an appalling piece of legislation could have garnered the support of such legal eagles in the senate as Ed Angara, Pia Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Koko Pimentel and Miriam Santiago (only Senator TG Guingona stood opposed to it on third and final reading) boggles the mind.

This of course came on the heels of Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto’s revolting display of hubris after being exposed for plagiarism. Sotto absolved himself by claiming that the internet from where he had lifted significant sections of a speech he gave against the Reproductive Health Bill was not subject to the rules of intellectual property.

Sotto happily claims ownership of the anti-libel provisions of the Anti-Cyber Crime Act saying he had intentionally placed them there in retaliation to his critics in social media who he claims need to be silenced. President Aquino, who in the past has shown sensitivity to public criticism by the media was glad to sign it into law. Since then, the Palace has admitted to flaws in the act, which they say need mending.

Then, finally, comes the episode of Senator Ralph Recto’s report advocating a watering down of the sin tax bill and hampering the Aquino government’s fiscal and health reform agendas in one fell swoop. Just days after releasing his report to the Senate, Recto, who had been responsible for crafting the expanded value added tax under President Gloria Arroyo to head off a fiscal crisis and who suffered at the polls for it, quickly retracted his submission. This has left the single most important revenue measure of the administration this year in limbo.

His sponsorship of the committee’s findings at the Senate was widely criticised both in the mainstream and social media. Senator Recto has offered to resign his chairmanship of the powerful committee of ways and means claiming that he had been deserted by the main proponents of his bill, namely the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Finance Department.

This trilogy of mistakes and poor judgements demonstrates how haphazard the senate has become in performing its core function of legislation. Having been locked down for half a year performing jury duty for the impeachment trial, the senate seems to have lost its deft touch when it comes to policy making. From foreign affairs and national security to criminal law and fiscal policy, the senate has had such a lacklustre performance of late.

The administration claimed that the impeachment trial would not impede its legislative agenda, yet the slow progress of such crucial bills involving reproductive health, freedom of information, whistleblower and witness protection, fiscal responsibility, K-12, health reform, and so much more, seems to belie this.

With “more of the same” literally speaking being on offer at the 2013 senate race (as in sons, daughters, blood relatives and in-laws of incumbents and former incumbents being put forward as candidates), you would not expect either the quality or the quantity of outcomes to improve. What is lacking is a sound process of policy development from conceptualisation and analysis to consultation and deliberation, all the way through to decision, implementation and evaluation.

They say the quality of institutions is critical to our development. Well, that may be true, but for the quality of our institutions to improve, we also need the composition of players within those institutions to diversify. If we simply recruit into such bodies people of the same class and gene pool, should we ever wonder why we get the same dismal outcomes?

Philippine Senate convicts Chief Justice Renato C. Corona

The Philippine Senate convicts the Chief Justice, Renato C. Corona. The Senators voted 20 to convict while Senators Arroyo, Santiago and Marcos voted to Acquit. The Senate closes the Impeachment Trial of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Palace issued a statement. The Deputy Presidential Spokesperson delivered statement on the conviction of Renato C. Corona:

This afternoon, 20 Senators voted to convict Mr. Renato C. Corona on Article II of the Articles of Impeachment. Our democratic institutions have been strengthened and have been proven to work.

Mr. Corona is merely the public face of the things that ail our justice system. Let us never forget that those who come to court, be they rich or poor, must do so in the expectation of receiving impartial justice from those who uphold both the spirit and the letter of the law. The verdict of the Senate is a step forward in terms of restoring public confidence in our courts, and trust in the members of the judiciary.

Accountability, and Transparency

On Monday, the prosecution and the defense will give their closing arguments, and the Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona will be submitted for decision. Much has been said about the trial. Even tales like Carpio versus Corona, once friends, and now foes help give color to an issue. Then there is a question— “Are SC decisions linked to CJ transactions?

Both sides have had their war on the airwaves, and on cyberspace. Each spinning the issue for their own camp. Each giving their position with equal passion. At the end of the day it is about Accountability, and Transparency.

The facts whether or not you are for Acquittal or for Conviction remain the same. The Anti-Money Laundering Council report furnished transaction between 2003 and 2011 totaling some 12 million dollars. This is a report direct from banks. Corona admitted to having a bank balance of at least 2.4 million dollars. Corona admitted to have omitted this from his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth. It was his belief in his interpretation of law that no impropriety existed. Corona admitted to 80 million pesos worth of money, which he said belongs to Basa-Guidote, and that he was a simple and frugal man. With at least several condominium units. These are the facts that the Senate will have to decide on. Simply put, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona has 184 million pesos worth of assets, that he did not declare on his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

The Defense, and their supporters tend to paint all this as political persecution. The President using all the powers and resources at his disposal is out to get Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. They paint it as a personal vendetta of sorts. And that this administration is out to get everyone who does not stand with them.

Trapped in their minds is this belief that this trial is a danger to democracy. That evidence— AMLC report was gathered illegally. Forgetting that the Ombudsman Carpio-Morales is a defense witness. Forgetting that the Constitution itself, gives the Ombudsman this power. Forgetting that the Constitutional Convention really meant the Ombudsman to be a Superhero. Forgetting that there is a Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth Law for all government officials precisely to make government more accountable, and more transparent.

Simply put, Pro-Acquittal paints our democracy to be dying.

Pro-Conviction colors it differently. Democracy has never been more alive, and more vibrant, and more growing. For Pro-Conviction folk, this trial does not break the Check and Balance of the Constitution. Forgetting that this trial itself is proof positive of the Check and Balance built into the system. If the courts break, it is why there is a mechanism for impeachment. If the Executive breaks, there is a mechanism called impeachment, or they can go to the courts for their grievance. If Congress would write bad laws, the Supreme Court rules on it.

The question before the Senate serving as Impeachment Trial is about Accountability, and Transparency. Accountability in the sense that Public Officials are held to a higher standard. This is more so for Impeachable officials such as the President and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It is about transparency in the judiciary— and how the judiciary makes a mockery of it. So the Senate serving as an Impeachment Court will acquit or convict Renato C. Corona on breaking the Statements of Assets, and Liabilities and Net Worth law. Acquittal would mean as Manuel Buencamino puts it, “a lowering of the bar on the behavior of members of the judiciary”. Conviction would mean victory for Accountability and Transparency.

Checks, But No Balance

With the impeachment trial winding down with all but the closing arguments and final judgement to be rendered, it is becoming clear just what is at stake.

The Senate was essentially made to referee between the bickering heads of two co-equal branches of government, the executive and the judiciary. On the one hand, the chief executive claimed that the Supreme Court was preventing him from exercising his prerogative to run after and prosecute his predecessor. On the other hand, the chief justice claimed the executive branch was weakening judicial independence through intimidation.

The two opposing camps were on a collision course ever since the ‘midnight appointment’ of the chief magistrate. The president never really acknowledged the legitimacy of it. What made matters worse were the decisions penned by the high court which tended to contain a certain slant not in favour of the administration. The politicisation of judicial appointments meant that a political process was needed in order to straighten things out and restore some form of balance to the bench.

The problem was that in going after the Arroyo appointees to the high court, the administration could not avoid coming off as vindictive. Accusations of arbitrarily using public agencies to conduct a witch hunt were inevitable. It didn’t help that the case was hurriedly built on shaky ground. Ironically, it was only with the emergence of clandestinely procured evidence that the prosecution started to gain momentum and make a serious dent in the case of the defence.

Meanwhile in the court of public opinion, both parties waged a war for our hearts and minds using the pulpits of their office as a platform for airing their views. For the last six months the campaigns have been relentless. At times senator judges were drawn into the debate. The Palace could be said to have the upper hand in this regard having at its disposal the propaganda apparatus of the state.

In a way, this forced Chief Justice Corona to take the stand. Only through his televised testimony could he address the issues posed to him both in and out of the courtroom squarely. He did so with candour, at times giving vent to his frustrations, but in the end with great humility and deference to the court.

In the end, it all boils down to whether his sin of omission, failing to declare certain assets in his public statement of net worth would be enough to convict him. Having openly declared on the one hand the full extent of his wealth and the assets in his possession while on the other laying the legal basis for not including them in his statement, the chief justice’s case now falls into the discretion of the senators acting as jury.

With neither camp being able to claim a majority of allies in the upper chamber, the decision of whether to acquit or convict now rests with the unaligned senators, a significant number of whom are up for re-election. What happens next will determine whether we will live under a tyranny of judges on the one hand or the tyranny of the majority on the other. What this means is that we will end up having a system of checks, but with no balance.

Why the Chief Justice’s case hinges on his SALN

The case of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona hinges on his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. Not on question whether his money was ill-gotten. Not at all. This is the prosecution’s belief, and it is also what the Senate President believed. During the Chief Justice’s testimony, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile cautioned the Chief Justice into threading to waters the Impeachment Court did not discuss such as Ill-gotten wealth.

Political analysts are calling the Chief Justice’s performance as brilliant. Quite contrary. His oratory skill was negligible, and its contents self-destructive. For a man of such bravado, he cried a lot. For much of his testimony, the Chief Justice ranted, drowning himself with self-pity, and anger at the circumstance of which he had found himself into. Like any man drunk with depression, he began to be filled with his own delusions that the world is out to get him. Specifically him. And that his whole speech was about himself, as much as dragging anyone with him down.

Much of his testimony was for the public— painting himself a simple man, and frugal who does not even use Air Conditioner. The act of course is much similar to the story Manny Villar himself painted during the 2010 elections. It did not work then, and it does not work now. It does not work simply because a public official of his stature is more than wealthy enough to afford. Perhaps it is time for politicians to paint themselves as who they really are— people who are well off, that even the least of them can afford many luxuries most Filipinos dream of.

The level of guilt according to those schooled in the legal arts put the burden of proof on the prosecution. It was the defense itself that called the Ombudsman to the stand. It was the defense itself that painted themselves into a corner. We are, as argued a democratic society, and the accused is innocent until proven otherwise. It was a defense witness that painted the biggest threat to them.

Throughout the trial the prosecution presented evidence after evidence, and many have argued not enough to convict. It can also be argued that it was the defense who pulled the biggest evidence out of the bag— Ombudsman Carpio-Morales. It was the Ombudsman’s testimony using access to Anti-Money Laundering Council data that drove the nail on the Chief Justice’s coffin. It was damning evidence that could only be refuted by saying the data was wrong. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales’ testimony on the Chief Justice’s dollar accounts was aimed at proving he did not declare such dollar accounts in his statements of assets, liabilities, and Net Worth.

In his own words, Renato C. Corona did not deny he had dollar accounts. He said he owned such dollar accounts and that he purposely did not declare it in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth because it is his belief that his non-disclosure is protected by the Foreign Currency Deposit Act. The Chief Justice went into his performance, subtracting dollar account after dollar account like erasing pie chart after pie chart. He did not deny the in and out flow of money.

Renato C. Corona also explained that he was frugal and saved since the late 1960s. His dollar deposits grew because of such savings. Aurora Pijuan on a Facebook note, quoted Arthur Alvendia who wrote,

“CJ is a shrewd manipulator of the public mind, trying to mislead the public that his recent hundreds of thousand dollars transaction flows can be explained by the change in the exchange rate from P2 to S1 to now P44 to $1.

Wrong $1 in 1960 does NOT MULTIPLY by 44 after devaluation. It is still the same dollar day , which may buy more in pesos now, but REMAINS THE SAME IN NOMINAL TERMS.
The fact that he cites that he has been dollar trading since 1960 ” when the rate was 2 to 1. he tries to insinuate that his dollar trade earnings has multiplied his dollar holdings by 44 today. NO SIR. Binobobo ang publiko with numbers,
Malicious Talaga. Disgusting defense trickery.

Please pass on to the prosecutors — to expose to the public that the Devaluation Does not at all explain his dollar transaction flow volume today. And that CJ was in fact trying to create that misleading impression.

The Chief Justice at the point was jab after jab that failed to connect. Then there was the bomb. In front of cameras with all the pomp he could muster, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona signed a waiver to have his bank documents and his assets looked into. It was a brilliant stratagem. Then everyone gasped when he added a condition— released only if the 188 congressmen and Senate-Judge Franklin Drilon would sign a waiver to the same. The Chief Justice had everyone in his grasp, and he let victory slip away.

The condition was like triggering a bomb. The Chief Justice cried to all his accusers, “I am taking you ALL down with me!”

Then the next wave came as he overreached again. The Chief Justice stood from the witness stand without being excused, and walked out. The Defense of course performing damage control, profusely apologized for their client. Justice Cuevas was left rebuked by his own Client. The moment the Chief Justice rose, he effectively self-destructed.

The Chief Justice used people. He used his defense counsels as his shield. And his intent for the last five months was to drag everyone into the flames with him. Sheer arrogance of a man who thinks he had the upper hand. And his defiance of the Impeachment Court was nothing but pure arrogance. Arrogance that he did not prepare with his defense team. I would argue that perhaps direct questions from his own defense team would have given him a more locked performance, and would have endeared him to the court of public opinion. Renato C. Corona was on a path to self-destruction that perhaps, he himself was not aware of.

The Chief Justice’s rebuttal of the Ombudsman’s testimony was at best a jab, and no push to say the transactions were fabricated. In fact, the Chief Justice agreed he had dollar accounts that he purposely did not declare.

The Chief Justice explanation of how his money grew is also subject to question. The Senate President asked himself if there were other investments, and the Chief Justice replied that none— it was “compounded interest”.

The Impeachment Trial of Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court hinges on just one Article of Impeachment. This is about his Statements of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth. One peso, undeclared is already a violation of the law. Granted, the Court could magnanimously rule there was no malicious intent to hide such undeclared assets. It is a stretch hiding behind some law. Ombudsman Concita-Morales’ testimony was damning evidence— and it was evidence that the Defense itself called for. Renato C. Corona said he purposely hid the declaration, too smart for his own good.

The Impeachment Trial isn’t a criminal trial, and it doesn’t matter if in a criminal trial Renato C. Corona could be proven guilty. What’s clear we’ve seen the steel behind Renato C. Corona, and while finding it wanting is not a crime, there is enough evidence to convict him based on his undeclared assets.

Who will guard the Ombudsman, herself?

The past week we’ve seen the Ombudsman in action. Perhaps, this is the first time since its inception that the awesome powers of the Ombudsman was shown to the public. And taken for a spin.

Muscles flexed. Achievement unlocked.

You could almost see the Senators quiver in their seats after they digested the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on her analysis of Chief Justice Corona’s Dollar Accounts. You could almost see people go bug-eyed as the Ombudsman talked about directing the Anti-Money Laundering Council to release its records to her. It has given the Opposition pause. And it has given the Senator-Judges pause. What’s to stop the Ombudsman from going after them?

Did Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales over-reach her power?

The 1987 Constitution is clear. Article XI, section 13 reads:

The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following powers, functions, and duties:

(1) Investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public official, employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient.
(2) Direct, upon complaint or at its own instance, any public official or employee of the Government, or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, as well as of any government-owned or controlled corporation with original charter, to perform and expedite any act or duty required by law, or to stop, prevent, and correct any abuse or impropriety in the performance of duties.

(3) Direct the officer concerned to take appropriate action against a public official or employee at fault, and recommend his removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or prosecution, and ensure compliance therewith.

(4) Direct the officer concerned, in any appropriate case, and subject to such limitations as may be provided by law, to furnish it with copies of documents relating to contracts or transactions entered into by his office involving the disbursement or use of public funds or properties, and report any irregularity to the Commission on Audit for appropriate action.

(5) Request any government agency for assistance and information necessary in the discharge of its responsibilities, and to examine, if necessary, pertinent records and documents.

(6) Publicize matters covered by its investigation when circumstances so warrant and with due prudence.

(7) Determine the causes of inefficiency, red tape, mismanagement, fraud, and corruption in the Government and make recommendations for their elimination and the observance of high standards of ethics and efficiency.

(8) Promulgate its rules of procedure and exercise such other powers or perform such functions or duties as may be provided by law.

So clearly, as empowered by the Constitution, the Ombudsman can investigate on its own. It can direct officers of the government to furnish it with documents, and it can request any agency for assistance.

It is like having your own real-life superhero with all the deputized power of the people to go with it. It has the real rank of a Constitutional Commission precisely for it to be taken seriously. It does not prosecute cases. It merely investigates and becomes the “lawyer of the people”.

So what’s to stop the Ombudsman from abusing these awesome powers? What’s to stop the President from using the office the ombudsman? Or future presidents? As Juvenal asked, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies,” Who will guard the guardian themselves?

That’s why the Ombudsman is one of the impeachable officers. Congress can prosecute, and put the ombudsman on trial.

According to a transcript of the Record of the Constitutional Commission dated July 26, 1986, Commissioner Nolledo remarked, “Let our Ombudsman, called the eyes and ears of the people, the super lawyer-for-free of the oppressed and the downtrodden, raise a new hope in our people who must be given the reassurance that the government really cares for them.”

If this week is of any indication then it is appropriate to say, “Achievement unlocked.“ What to do with all the other cases pending with the Ombudsman? Make it happen.

Why The Senate Must Convict CJ Corona

The defense played a game of chicken with chess pieces to get Chief Justice Renato C. Corona off the hook. So on Day 37 of the Impeachment Trial, they called Ombudsman Morales to the stand. It hoped to do two things. First, it meant to discredit the Ombudsman, a former justice of the Supreme Court, by painting her as incompetent and on a fishing expedition. It was meant to paint the Ombudsman, and by virtue the Administration on a witch hunt. Second, prove that Renato C. Corona did not have ill-gotten wealth. If the prosecution did not have proof— no access to the accounts, then there is no proof to convict.

The plan was a stretch of course. It was like playing chicken with headlights. Put it another way, they rolled the dice thinking Morales was a dud.

First, painting the government is on a witch hunt only works with people who have already been drinking Corona’s cool aid, and by extension the Opposition’s cool aid.

Second, the lawyers are blindsided by, well, being lawyers. The lawyers and the law groups have kept on insisting that the trial progress based on the rules of court.

Yes, there has to be some basis for conviction. We are not barbarians. And that civilization is governed by rules, and laws.

What was established by Ombudsman Morales’ testimony? At the very least there is evidence to suggest impropriety by the Chief Justice. 82 dollar accounts in nearly a decade, with money flowing in an out of those accounts and figures large enough that it triggered the Anti-Money Laundering Council Law. And at the most? Damaging evidence that the Chief Justice is guilty of the charges against him.

A layman would suppose that in a normal case— such evidence would be substantial enough that investigators could petition a court of law for those particular bank accounts, and bank records. And when those records are accessible, and proven to be true then investigators could build a case to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Corona had substantial, unexplained wealth.

On Day 38 of the Impeachment Trial, the Senators were asking questions that seem to suggest that they have questions on whether or not the Ombudsman’s testimony is admissible.

If logic would be followed then they would ask the Anti-Money Laundering Council to take the stand. And followed suit by asking the Banks to release those records— or at the very least inquire as to whether the accounts are true. If the records are false then it is AMLC that is at fault.

But this is not an ordinary trial. It isn’t even an ordinary trial in the sense that there has to be beyond a reasonable doubt. If the Impeachment Court does not take the Ombudsman’s testimony into evidence— at the very least the public has already accepted it as evidence.

It could be argued that the public is not the judge of these proceedings. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. The public is the sole judge of an Impeachment Trial. When the envelope wasn’t opened, it caused a Coup d’tat. And not to mention the Senators who voted to keep the enveloped closed lost their jobs. That was ten years ago.

And we are entering an election year. We have senators trying to keep their jobs. And survey after survey revealed that the people will abide by the Senate’s decision. Meaning there will not be a revolution in the streets if Corona is convicted or not convicted.

It doesn’t mean that Senator-Judges will not be judged by their actions.

So the court of public opinion plays a lot in this trial.

That is why this is a political exercise.

The sentence, “This is a political exercise” often rubs those who are pro-Corona the wrong way. It is why they insist in the strictest sense that “The Rule of Law”, be followed. It is not the impeachment court’s job to convict Renato C. Corona on criminal or administrative charges.

Chief Justice Renato C. Corona calls this, a lantern of lies. On December 15, 2011, Ombudsman Morales said that Chief Justice Renato C. Corona withdrew US$769,681.71. Physically that amounts to 1,193 iPhones, priced at US$645 per phone. It translates to PHP 33,936,583.33 Million at an exchange rate of 1 Philippine Peso in US Dollars is 0.02268 for 12/15/2011. Which means it could buy 216,156 Big Macs medium sized meal (PHP157 per meal).

The only way out for Chief Justice Renato C. Corona is simply this. Waive his right on bank secrecy, and allow the banks in question to release the information. It silences his critics, and proves the government of falsifying evidence. He doesn’t even have to take the stand, he just needs the banks to tell the Court that the AMLC report is false.

If the impeachment court should find him not guilty of the charges— in spite of proof he has 82 dollar bank accounts, or if that evidence is suppressed, he would forever be branded as a crook in the eyes of our people. Chief Justice Corona would rant all he likes, but in the back of people’s minds it would always be “Yeah, right”. AMLC’s report is that damaging.

This is why it is a political exercise.

This is how a cynic would argue. “By accepting AMLC as evidence, is that simply opening Pandora’s box— opening countless politician and government official and employee to attack?” How much is that worth to a politician?

This is why the impeachment trial is a political exercise.

A cynic would argue that the most important argument is simply this. “What’s in it for Senator-Judges?” So how much is this verdict worth—- if they convict— would a Senator-Judge win re-election? If they do not convict, would they lose re-election? The last impeachment trial proved fatal for Senators-Judges then.

This is why it is a political exercise. It is a step to righting our ship of state— towards a more equitable society. A conviction will not allow the government to seize Renato C. Corona’s accounts, or take away his assets. That is the job of the courts post impeachment trial. It would seem that the Bureau of Internal Revenue for example would have a case against Renato C. Corona. The Impeachment Court will simply strip away his title, and kick him out of government. 82 dollar accounts is reason enough to kick him out of government—- where is that in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth? This is why the Senate must convict Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

The political wind is entirely against Renato C. Corona

The Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona has dragged on for months— perceived by the public as boring and duller, sometimes frustrating, and infuriating. As the trial resumed after a few weeks hiatus, we are now entering the last chapter. Yesterday, the defense agreed to put the Chief Justice on the witness stand. And it now comes to a simple question: “How believable is Renato C. Corona on the witness stand?”

The Chief Justice has for the most part played the wounded, under sieged victim. The Chief Justice played on the card that he is attacked and victimized by an imperial President. And in so doing rallied his own fiefdom— the Courts to his favor.

This has not gained traction.

According to Pulse Asia, 47 percent of Filipinos think Renato C. Corona is guilty, with roughly the same percentages across socio-economic strata. Even more telling is Social Weather Station’s survey that 63 percent of Filipinos believe that Chief Justice Renato C. Corona has hidden wealth based on his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth.

To put it simply, the Chief Justice lost the public relations war, and he is fast losing the actual war.

The mid-term election is fast coming up. Half the Senate is up for reelection, and naturally the Impeachment Trial of Chief Justice Corona plays a major part in their reelection campaign. Appear in the very least to be unfair, and unjust and they would be voted out of office. That was the lesson of former President Estrada’s impeachment trial.

The winner of this political exercise is of course, President Aquino. A win translates to something he can report on his third state of the nation address. Just to name two, there is progress to be made in education with K+12 initiative— an Aquino campaign promise, and the impeachment of Renato C. Corona is a step towards winning his war on Corruption.

Where does this leave the defense?

The story in its entirety has to be told of course, and we are close to the end now. The Chief Justice has to take the stand in a last ditched effort to win. Renato C. Corona has to prove his innocence, not just to the Senator-Judges, but also to the people watching on television, listening on the radio and tweeting online. If the last six months is of any indication, then it is like climbing a very, very steep mountain. It isn’t entirely possible to do, just a super tall order to overcome. The political wind is entirely against Renato C. Corona.

Schedule of 2011 PDAF releases to Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco

Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, acting as a defense witness at the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, claimed yesterday that the release of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF)—more commonly referred to as “pork barrel funds”—allocated for his district was delayed as a result of his opposition to the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. He testified that he received the first tranche of the PDAF on August 1, 2011.

Navotas (Lone District) Rep. Toby Tiangco
Courtesy of the Toby Tiangco page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Toby-Tiangco/185633641527060)

In the interest of discussion, we are publishing the schedule of the pork releases in 2011 to Rep. Tiangco as recorded in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) web site.

2011 PDAF – Tiangco, Tobias Reynald M.