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.