One simple question to ask regarding CJ Corona’s impeachment case

The impeachment trial of Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is coming to an end. On Monday, the Prosecution and the Defense will give their closing statements, and the Senate sitting as an Impeachment Court will deliberate the issue. And in the forty-two days that the trial has been on, it has had its ups, and downs; the humor and the madness, and the frustration on both sides of the isle.

Long since we are all gone, future generations will look back to these days and find only the words, in transcript. Gone would be the tone, and context of this time, this moment in history. It is why the Senate and the participants of this Trial insist on putting things on record. Lawyers insist that our court is a court of record. And on the record, future historians will judge that the Senate has given the Chief Justice every leniency to defend himself.

What this trial teaches us, among so many lessons is that the Senate is an appropriate judge of these proceedings. They are the perfect jury to try their fellow officials, and fellow politicians. Many argue that this trial should be more centered into law; though not every senator is a lawyer. Its composition is apt, and in a perfect sense capable of passing judgement on one of their own. And if there has been some doubt as to who Renato C. Corona is, it should be put to rest now.

The fight has some argue been dirty. The Aquino Administration has bent law to the breaking point. In fact in court, Renato C. Corona ranted as such. That democracy itself has been put on trial with Aquino destroying the co-equalness of government.

In recent days theatrics passed, and came and went. Waivers put on the stand, and as a dare. Corona did it of course out of pure theatrics. It panders to the Court of Public Opinion. A court that in Corona’s perception has prejudged him. And so he uses its built in prejudices— pulling stunt after stunt. Everyone should sign a waiver.

So like the newest fashion, everyone must now be naked. Waiver is a sure sign of truthiness. Of course it is a good Public Relations move. And like many in the Philippines we pander to it because it is shiny. It sounds intelligent. It sounds really cool. It sounds like a good idea! We’re here for transparency and accountability, but it is fool’s gold; it is a fool’s errand. A fool’s errand if Corona is acquitted, and a fool’s errand if Corona is convicted.

Someday I hope someone gets to write the insider stories of how the Court reached its verdict, if that is at all printable. That would be good reading and a good eyeopener as to how a nation such as the Philippines is run. How many cynics would be born from it, or how many optimists do would be a fun game to watch.

Months of trial, and accusation and evidence presented and much drama and it comes down to just one article. It is one article that ironically the Prosecution though feeling strongly about, couldn’t get a slam dunk and that it was the Defense that did that for them.

It comes down to the Defense calling the Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to the stand. Perhaps, it was a miscalculation by the Chief Justice or his legal team, but it was this bullet that did the most damage. It was the defense itself that has done much damage to the Chief Justice. And on the first day of the Chief Justice’s testimony— he collapsed, both in health and in defense. The rant and rage his whole heart felt spewed.

Chief Justice Renato C. Corona admitted that he did not declare everything on his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth. He had over 80 million in funds which he said wasn’t his, but the Basa-Guidote company. He said he lived frugally, but could afford luxury condominiums. He said his 2.4 million dollars in the bank was hard earned money.

The case is not about whether Corona stole the money. The case is about why he did not disclose his assets as law provides. That’s why it is irrelevant to talk about waiving other people’s right to bank secrecy.

In his infinite wisdom, he said the secrecy provisions of the foreign currency deposit act protects him. That on the stand he defended his position as such. That his defense had no malice. The case hinges on one simple question: Did the Chief Justice properly declared his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth? Or did he not? In his own words, the Chief Justice did. Whether or not that is sufficient evidence to convict is the question.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • UPnnGrd

    Of the “CORONA IS GUILTY!!” complaints, one of the top 3 (if not the top of the top ) is that Corona has been demonstrably pro-GuLLOORRRYYYA in his prior decisions and in his future decisions.    Is this a non-issue anymore because  (a) Persidente asked his team to retreat from the issue;  (b)  JP Enrile’s senate court has shown a bias against presentation of the issue;  (c)  there were background negotiations that happened?  (d) some other reason or reasons?

    Does that mean that  Lacson(or bongBong or Villar or Trillaness) –> relieved from the requirement to vote against Corona because Malakanyang has retreated from this  pro-Corona is pro-GuLLOORRRyyA tenet?

  • UPnnGrd

    Random thought to keep folks more feeling safe in their own metro-Manila area.

    If it escaped folks,  I thought I saw a news comment that the Buendia Avenue bombing has been solved.   Guardians of the henhouse, however, apparently did it… that’s what I thought I read.

  • GabbyD

    i’m disappointed with the questions the senate asked. here are my own questions:

    1) clearly, you made a decision to interpret the FCD act in how u filled out the saln. did you consult with other people about the correctness of your decision? other lawyers? civil servants? accountants? in your testimony, you said u are not an accountant, and didnt approach the saln as an accountant. why? is being a lawyer sufficient?

    if yes, can you lawyer for yourself?

    or is it coz you are a judge that you felt you didnt have to discuss it? 

    or can we make up our own minds and interpret?

    2) the FCD account says the govt can’t find info about your accounts unless you give permisson. isnt that what the saln is — an accurate statement as certified by the signer?

    3) i notice that you gave your waiver, in the name of transparency. so, are you know changing your mind about adding dollar accounts? what happened? 

    if you are acquitted, will you continue to keep your dollar accounts to yourself? so this waiver is a one time thing?

    remember: you cannot be for transparency AND believe that your dollar accounts should be confidential. those two things are conflicting. so its either you changed your legal opinion (in which case, were u wrong before?), OR you feel that you must now, and dont really believe in transparency.

  • GabbyD

    the FCD law says that no one can look into the account without the owners permission.
    isnt that the very purpose of the SALN– to give the owners’ permission?

    its a statement that the person signing it is saying “these are my assets”, and i truthfully attest to it. the FCD law doesnt apply here, because this is a declaration from the signer, and NOT an example of government looking into his assets.

    this is an important distinction no one is putting out there. 

  • I rather think this is all political now, and the technicality is the vehicle for exercising political will. If President Aquino said “the failing is not material”, he’d be acquitted in a heartbeat. If he said I want that guy out; he is the enemy”, there would be a lot of political arguing. The facts are the same. Probably $2.4 million, not $12, or he’d be a fool to sing the waiver. Probably 4 accounts, not 82, which includes closed time accounts. Probably 5 properties, not 45. Probably P80 million, reasonably accounted for by the Chief Justice. Probably total amounts not out of line with reason for a lifetime in professional work, inheritances, family money comingled. The SALN and bank secrecy acts are indeed not properly aligned. The excuse is legitimate. Given that he is the top officer of the third branch of government, one could argue for “grand leeway” in respect for the position, and the messes other SALN’s are undoubtedly in.

    Is he competent? He does not rise to my level of competence. Emotional, political, not impartial, not aloof and firm and legalistic. But that is irrelevant, neh?

    Whatever the outcome, if bank secrecy laws are revised, good things will come from the trial. And transparency has moved to the top line as an ideal of Philippine governance. Great!

  • Jeff Lebowski

    The problem is the interpretation of law. The CJ is Clinging to foreign account secrecy law.