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.