May 2012

By Edu Punay
The Philippine Star

A pro-Corona streamer is taken down by workers at the Supreme Court building yesterday, a day after senators voted to convict chief justice Renato Corona. EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines – A day after Renato Corona was ousted as chief justice for inaccuracies in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, the Supreme Court (SC) approved yesterday the release of the full SALNs of all justices and judges.

Speaking to reporters, acting SC spokesperson Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said the justices agreed in a special full-court session yesterday to set aside the May 2, 1989 resolution prohibiting public disclosure of SALNs of members of the judiciary.

“It was a collective decision of the justices,” she said. “The net effect is that the earlier resolution has just been set aside.”

However, Guerra said the justices still have to meet in special session on June 13 to come up with the guidelines on the issuance of their SALNs for 2011.

Guerra said it is best to wait for the release of the resolution and guidelines where the SC would explain the grounds for the ruling.

“Let’s not forget CJ Corona set a precedent in issuing the waiver (on bank deposits),” she said.

In the 1989 full-court resolution, the SC laid down guidelines on requests for copies of the SALNs of the chief justice and associate justices.

The ruling, reiterated in 1992, stated that it is unlawful for any person to obtain or use any statement filed under Republic Act 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, for any purpose contrary to morals or public policy, or any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public.

The SC expressed willingness to have the clerk of court furnish copies of the SALNs of justices to any person upon request, provided the request has a legitimate reason.

But even requests of journalists for copies of the SALNs of SC justices were denied.

“The independence of the judiciary is constitutionally as important as the right to information, which is subject to the limitations provided by law,” read the ruling.

“Under specific circumstances, the need for the fair and just adjudication of litigations may require a court to be wary of deceptive requests for information, which shall otherwise be freely available.”

In 1992, the SC denied the requests of a graft investigation officer of the Office of the Ombudsman and a military captain for certified true copies of the SALNs of two judges.

Carpio is acting chief justice

SC justices discussed yesterday in full-court session the Senate verdict removing chief justice Renato Corona and its accompanying consequences, particularly the administrative reorganization in the court.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio was designated acting chief justice in accordance with SC rules.

He will serve temporarily until President Aquino names a new chief justice within 90 days from the vacancy.

Carpio called the full-court session at 2 p.m.

Senate clerk of court Jessie Tamondong delivered the notice of the decision finding Corona guilty to the office of the SC clerk of court before 10 a.m.

The Senate ruled that the decision is immediately executory.

Twelve of the 14 remaining justices attended the special session. Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta were attending a prior commitment in Baguio City.

With Carpio’s designation, the justices in effect have accepted the Senate’s interpretation that the verdict on Corona is immediately executory, according to Guerra, who was designated acting chief of the SC public information office.

“We have an acting chief justice,” she said. “You can draw the necessary implication from that.”

Guerra said Carpio took over the top SC post “since he is the most senior of the justices.”

Carpio had extended the stay in office of their staff in the PIO as well as the staff of Corona for 30 days, she added.

Guerra takes the place of Midas Marquez, who was coterminous with Corona as SC spokesman and chief of the SC PIO.

The SC also approved several other administrative issuances, which were not immediately released to the media, Guerra said.

‘Judicial independence gone’

Judge Franklin Demonteverde of the Bacolod Regional Trial Court believes judicial independence has passed away with the conviction of Corona.

“The men and women in judicial robes are grieving as they cower in fear while the sword of Damocles hovers over their heads,” he said.

“These honorable men and women will be walking on dangerous grounds lest they step on the toes of the powers that be. While we abide by the decision of the impeachment court, we can only pray – God help the judiciary!”

Bacolod Councilor Caesar Distrito said the senators had voted on the basis of political survival, not on the basis of evidence.

“I admire Senators (Joker) Arroyo, (Miriam Defensor-) Santiago, and (Ferdinand) Marcos (Jr.) for standing with the rule of law,” he said.

“Although I disagree with the decision of the Senate convicting CJ Corona, as it was shown that evidence were taken illegally and still they considered it, we have no choice but to respect it. “But if Corona was made accountable for such failure to disclose all his assets, then I think the same standards should be applied to all, from the President down to the barangay officials.”

On the other hand, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. believes Corona’s conviction has upheld the nation’s democracy.

“This should serve as a lesson to everybody, especially the public officials, that the government will catch the corrupt because even the chief justice is convicted,” he said.

“A strong message was handed out that the justice system is fair and high officials of government can be convicted,” Marañon said.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, one of 188 lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint, said the conviction of Corona “just raised the bar of standards for public officials.”

Mayor David Albert Lacson of E.B. Magalona town, Association of Chief Executive (Mayors) of Negros Occidental president, said Corona was given his day in court.

“He went through due process,” he said. “(But) the hammer came down, a decision was made. We have to abide by the law.”

Negros Occidental Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer said the senator-judges made the right decision based on evidence presented.

Negros Occidental Rep. Mercedez Alvarez said the conviction of Corona proved that no one is above the law.

“Even the highest officials of the land should comply with our constitutional duties as public officers,” she said.

“After today, I hope we can all move on now as we have a lot of work to be done and a lot of bills to be passed in Congress.”

Lawyer Andy Hagad, convenor of Negrenses for Corona’s Removal, said the conviction of Corona has given teeth to the SALN as a means to check the corrupt in government.

“It is no longer just a piece of paper that they play around with and pay little attention to,” he said. “The SALN has become our sword against the corrupt. Mabuhay ang Pilipino.”

Former Bacolod vice mayor Renecito Novero, a lawyer, said he sympathized with Corona on his sad fate, but that it should be as it is. “Interpreting the law according to his (Corona) fashion will indiscriminately provide sanctuary to crooks and thieves in government,” he said. “The Senate’s overwhelming decision is a clarion triumph of truth and rectitude. Daang matuwid. The Filipino people are ultimately the victor.”

Bacolod Councilor Em Ang said: “We might disagree with the position of some senator-judges but the legal process must be respected. I just hope that lessons have been learned from this political-legal exercise. “Now this case is behind us, our senators must quickly go back to serious work, as there are a lot of significant bills that have been languishing in the Senate because of the impeachment trial.”

Alex Ozoa of the Negrense 4 Noy Movement congratulated the senator-judges and the 188 lawmakers, as well as Rep. Rudy Fariñas, one of the prosecutors who delivered a closing argument.

“A big nail was removed from the matuwid na daan of President P-Noy,” he said. – With Danny Dangcalan

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=812436&publicationSubCategoryId=63

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Palace: No rush in choosing new chief magistrate

By Joyce Pangco Panares 
Manila Standard Today

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday he will not be rushed into choosing a new chief justice to avoid making the mistake of appointing someone like the impeached chief magistrate Renato Corona.

In a statement, Mr. Aquino said the next chief justice “must have integrity, must be independent in decision-making, efficient and just.”

He outlined Corona’s sins, which ironically did not include the offense for which he was removed from office: his failure to disclose all his assets.

Instead, the President focused on the Supreme Court’s decisions that proved unfavorable to his administration.

“Doubts have prevailed for the longest time that justice was only for the rich and powerful. We want a system where the scales of justice are balanced, and where the innocent can be assured of protection and the guilty are held accountable,” the President said.

“It was not our intention to pick a fight. But perhaps we were wrong in thinking we will be given fair treatment.”

Mr. Aquino repeatedly said the impeachment was not a personal fight against Corona, although the ousted chief justice “represented the dirty face of the judiciary.”

On Wednesday, the Senate representative to the Judicial and Bar Council said all applicants and nominees to the position vacated by Corona would be required to execute a waiver on the secrecy of their bank deposits and their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.

Senator Francis Escudero said the waivers would be in favor of the council.

“From now on, we should measure everyone aspiring to join the government with the measure we used with former chief justice Corona,” he said.

Since that was the standard used in impeaching Corona, it should apply to all.

“If you don’t want to declare [your assets], you should not run or accept any government position. But if you are in the government, you must declare them.”

Escudero assured the public that he would block any move to appoint a party-mate or somebody close to the President as the new chief justice.

“There are reports that the next chief justice is an ally or close to the President. We will not allow this to avoid criticisms or any political color to all that happened,” he said.

Senator Franklin Drilon, a virulent Corona critic, has been mentioned as a possible replacement, but Escudero said there was no indication that the senator was interested in the position. He said he hoped the President would choose to appoint someone not in any way identified with him or with any particular group.

“I am hoping that the vetting will be from the outside circle of the President’s official family, friends and the current Supreme Court composition so that we strictly adhere to the new leaf we all are looking forward to,” Escudero said.

“The nation has been heavily divided with the recent impeachment exercise, [so] it’s time for all of us to work for healing, reconciliation so we can already move on and move forward.”

Escudero said the Judicial and Bar Council must convene soon to avoid a vacuum in the Supreme Court with Corona’s removal, noting that any vacancy must be filled within 90 days.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the President must appoint a chief justice from among those already in the Supreme Court, because it was the chief justice that presided over the Judicial and Bar Council.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III said Corona had received the notice of judgment by the impeachment court.

At the Supreme Court, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who took over as acting chief justice following Corona’s removal, called his colleagues to a special meeting attended by everyone.

Carpio convened the special full court session after the Court received a copy of the resolution of the Senate impeachment court removing Corona from the top judicial post after finding him guilty in the impeachment trial.

The meeting tackled the Senate verdict and its accompanying consequences, particularly the high court’s administrative reorganization.

Carpio, as the most senior member of the Court, will take over as chief justice and serve as temporary head until President Aquino appoints a new chief justice within 90 days.

Twelve of the 14 remaining justices of the high court attended the special session. Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta were attending a prior commitment in Baguio City.

Also during the en banc session, the Court approved the release of the statements of assets, liabilities and net worth of all justices and judges in full.

Acting Court spokeswoman Maria Victoria Gleoresty Guerra said the decision set aside a May 2, 1989 resolution prohibiting the public disclosure of the statement of assets of the members of the judiciary.

“It was a collective decision of the justices. The net effect is that the earlier resolution has just been set aside,” Guerra said, adding that new guidelines would have to be issued.

She said she was taking over from Midas Marquez as Court spokesman and chief of the public information office.

But Marquez stays on as court administrator, a permanent position that has a fixed term that ends when he reaches the age of 65.

Employees of the high court called on President Aquino to choose the next chief justice from within the judiciary.

Jojo Guererro, president of SC Employees Association, said they preferred an insider to replace Corona.

“We hope the President appoints a new chief justice from among the justices because they understand very well what the [high court] and its rank-and-file employees really need,” he said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and Rey E. Requejo

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/May/31)

http://news.manilastandardtoday.com/2012/05/31/palace-no-rush-in-choosing-new-chief-magistrate/

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Carpio is acting chief justice while Aquino searches for Corona replacement

By MARK MERUEÑAS
GMA News  

(Updated 8:01 a.m.) – After Chief Justice Renato Corona’s historic ouster, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the next most senior justice at the high court is expected to replace him in an acting capacity as the highest judicial official in the country.

According to Supreme Court rules, Carpio will have to sit as chief magistrate in an acting capacity until President Benigno Aquino III finds a replacement for Corona, who on Tuesday was removed from office after a 20-3 guilty verdict from the Senate impeachment court.

Asked when Aquino would name Corona’s replacement, palace spokesperson Valte said that under the Constitution, the President has 90 days to appoint the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

“From what I understand, the position will be vacant because the decision of the Senate impeachment court is immediately executory,” she added.

Until the President names the new Chief Justice, the most senior of the SC Associate Justices takes over as acting Chief Justice, she said.

Carpio, having been appointed to the high court ahead of Corona, had seniority among the high magistrates. In 2010, however, after Carpio said President-elect Benigno C. Aquino III should be allowed to appoint the next chief justice, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—the outgoing president—appointed Corona as chief justice.

Carpio is the co-founder of the Carpio Villaraza & Cruz law office (CVCLAW), which later became the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco law office.

The law partnership is known in legal circles as “The Firm,” in reference to the 1993 film bearing the same title, which was based on the 1991 novel by John Grisham. It tells the story of an American law firm with powerful but shadowy connections in government and the business sector.

Corona had earlier accused “The Firm” of spearheading a smear campaign against him, a claim the firm denied.

Aquino will have to choose an appointee to replace Corona from a list of nominees to be submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council, which is tasked to receive and screen applications and nominations for a judicial post.

As acting chief justice, Carpio will also head the JBC.

Defense lawyers visit Corona

Meanwhile, defense lawyers trooped to The Medical City Tuesday night to check on Corona, who has been confined at the hospital since last week after suffering from hypoglycemia.

Corona suffers from diabetes and has had two heart bypass operations.

Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas led the panel in meeting with Corona at The Medical City, radio dzBB’s Divine Caraecle reported Tuesday.

Cuevas and members of the defense panel arrived at The Medical City at 8 p.m. and met with Corona.

“As lawyers, we have to be very honest with him. And just tell him what happened at the hearing today,” defense lawyer and spokesperson Rico Paolo Quicho told reporters Tuesday.

The lawyer said his team has not yet discussed whether or not to elevate the Senate’s guilty verdict to the Supreme Court.

“We have not yet talked about what we’ll do after or the near future… Wala pa kaming formal na desisyon,” Quicho said.

In an interview over dzBB Wednesday morning, defense lawyer Karen Jimeno said the chief justice has not yet decided whether he would file for a petition for writ of certiorari regarding the impeachment court’s guilty verdict or not.

“May ibang may mga pananaw na yung remedy dito na petition for certiorari ay maaaring available, pero syempre kailangan nilang tignan in this case kung meron ba talagang ‘grave abuse of discretion’ doon sa impeachment court noong lumabas itong desisyon,” Jimeno said.

“Magiging iba-iba siguro yung paningin dito but wala namang desisyon na mag-file ng case ng petition para doon sa impeachment case,” she said.

The Senate had earlier insisted it has sole jurisdiction over impeachment cases, while Corona’s lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas had repeatedly said they can still file a petition for review with the SC if the impeachment court had committed grave abuse of discretion in hearing the case.

For now, Corona and his team of lawyers said they were respecting the Senate impeachment court’s decision.

“Kailangan respetuhin ang pagpapasya ng senator-judges… From the beginning we already said we will respect whatever decision the Senate may come up with,” Quicho said.

In a three-page signed statement, Corona said he respected the guilty verdict but lamented how the proceedings seemed to have been tainted by “dirty politics [masamang pulitika].” – with a report from Amita Legaspi/KG/HS/YA, GMA News

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/259900/news/nation/carpio-is-acting-chief-justice-while-aquino-searches-for-corona-replacement

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star

For most people, Ilocos Norte Representative Rudy Fariñas came into our consciousness when he circulated a Betamax video of actress Vivian Velez and him — where they stripped into their birthday clothes, among other things they did on and off camera. Last Monday, Rudy Fariñas outdid himself by stripping now convicted Chief Justice Renato C. Corona in front of a national television audience.

Now popularly called the Palusot (excuse) Rudy Fariñas Prosecution closing argument for convicting CJ Corona, he spoke mostly in Filipino and in a language that registered well with Juan dela Cruz. He managed to give Juan dela Cruz the complex issues of the impeachment trial in easy to digest bite sizes. The closing argument of Fariñas had all the hallmarks of effective mass communications. It was crafted according to the appreciation level of Juan dela Cruz.

He compared what Corona declared as assets in his SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) and did not declare. In his SALN, 98 percent or P180 million of his cash assets were not declared by Corona. Only P3.5 million of his cash assets were declared. That led to a conclusion of an attempt to conceal assets. He exposed inaccuracies in Corona’s claim to having traded in dollars. He showed how ridiculous Corona’s claim was of having borrowed money from his wife’s firm — why pay interest when you have the cash.

Earlier projected as an odd-man-out in the Prosecution panel, Fariñas turned out to be the saving grace for the disappointing closing argument made earlier by Lead Prosecutor Niel Tupas. Fariñas gave you the impression that he meant to talk to Juan dela Cruz. Tupas gave you the impression that he just loves to hear the sound of his squeaky voice.

The media tracking of last Monday’s closing arguments clearly reflected the celebrity that Rudy Fariñas had gained. Farinas logged an 87.77 percent approval by those who followed the penultimate day of the impeachment trial. Only 12.23 percent disapproved what he asserted. In contrast, Niel Tupas logged a disapproval rating of 80.53 percent versus a shameful 19.47 percent approval rating.

Considering that the prosecution enjoys majority of public support, this is a clear demonstration of the lack of quality of Niel Tupas. On verbal communications, he does not create empathy — sounding more like an entry in a declamation contest. He’s no better in non-verbal because his small, lean frame tends to reinforce the impression that he is of substandard quality.

So impressive was the impact of the closing argument of Rudy Fariñas that Defense lawyer Dennis Manalo did not track online because Fariñas reactions were still swamping the Internet. Manalo had the bad luck of speaking after Fariñas. Manalo may have also failed to make a positive impression because he too — like Tupas — appeared like an entry to a high school declamation contest and the fact that he was espousing the unpopular view.

Defense lawyer Ed de los Angeles had a 73.68 percent disapproval rating while chalking a 26.32 percent approval rating. Lead Defense lawyer, former Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas enjoyed an approval rating of 74.18 percent versus a disapproval rating of 25.82 percent, which was impressive considering that he was espousing an unpopular cause. As of 5 p.m. last Monday, overall tracking was 84.47 percent against CJ Corona compared to 15.53 percent in favor.

It must be clarified that the tracking was culled from Internet traffic. Easily 40 percent of Filipinos, especially those from the socio-economic class E, are not participants. However, seeing how Fariñas delivered his closing argument — it’s safe to say that he would have done better with the class E because they can hardly appreciate the legalese of the Defense panel. Fariñas would have communicated to the class E while Messrs. Cuevas, de los Angeles and Manalo delivered messages that flew over their heads.

The May 22 and May 25 trial appearances of CJ Corona were mainly directed towards the national audience — to earn public support. Corona’s language and emotional expressions were meant to reverse adverse public opinion, which weighs heavily among senator-judges whether they would admit it or not. He was doing very well until he laid down conditions to his waiver and walked out. After that, the case for acquitting Corona was irretrievably lost.

In our May 10 column, your Chair foresaw that senator-judges Frank Drilon, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Serge Osmena, TG Guingona, Kiko Pangilinan, Ed Angara, Ping Lacson, Lito Lapid, Antonio Trillanes IV, Ralph Recto, Jinggoy Estrada, Chiz Escudero, Koko Pimentel, Tito Sotto, Gringo Honasan and Juan Ponce-Enrile would vote for conviction but didn’t discount that Senators Manny Villar and Loren Legarda could too. My forecast was off by one — the guilty vote of Senator-Judge Bong Revilla. The Senate rose to the occasion and did us proud.

It’s not a time to celebrate but a time to unite and move our country forward. My Ateneo classmate Rene Corona is very much in my prayers. We may be divided by a national issue but we have more things that unite us — AMDG, diabetes, chronic kidneys, spinal stenosis, to name a few.

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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com. and www.chairwrecker.com

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

Illustration by Francis J. Gacer

The much-anticipated vote on the impeachment case against Chief Justice Renato Corona finally came to pass last May 29, 2012.  It was supposed to be suspenseful to the very end with either side winning by a razor-thin margin.  But as it turned out it was a massacre!  Twenty senator-judges voted for conviction leaving the three die-hard Coronistas – Senators Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. — circling the wagons in a desperate attempt to defend the beleaguered Corona.

The senator-judges were called one by one, in alphabetical order, to explain their vote.  Sen. Edgardo Angara was the first to speak at the podium.  Up until the last minute, political pundits identified Angara as leaning to acquit Corona, although his son, Rep. Sonny Angara, was one of the prosecution spokesmen. So, when he voted “guilty,” it set the tone for the day.  Arroyo followed and as expected voted for acquittal.  Then the siblings, Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano explained their personal reasons for their vote for conviction.

Then came Miriam, feisty as ever, who delivered a 20-minute scathing attack on just about everybody… except Corona.  She even used words like “kagaguhan” — stupidity – in belittling the prosecutors and anti-Corona senator-judges.

Sen. Franklin Drilon followed Miriam.  While he was explaining his vote, Miriam walked out of the trial room in disgust.  She must have realized then that the battle was over.  Yep, it was time to flee the battleground and leave the other Coronistas to fend for themselves.

By the time Bongbong stepped up to the podium, the vote was running 11 for conviction and two for acquittal.  With a conviction short of only five votes and 10 senator-judges still waiting to vote, Bongbong could have voted for conviction and he would have earned a lot of political chips.  Or, better, abstained from voting, which would have the same effect as voting for acquittal.  However, he stood firmly by Corona to the very end.  Loyalty?  I don’t think so.  I think it was more like kinship to the issue of dollar deposit accounts.

Secrecy of dollar deposits

When the Foreign Currency Deposit Act (FCDA) or Republic Act 6426 was passed into law in April 1972, it did not have a secrecy clause.  However, during the martial law dictatorship, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1246 on November 21, 1977, which amended Section 8 of RA 6426 to read as follows: “Secrecy of Foreign Currency Deposits.  All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under Presidential Decree No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositors, in no instance shall such foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or private…”

Absolute confidentiality

But what was Marcos’ real reason when he issued P.D. 1246?  Was he protecting the corrupt or — as was officially postulated — encouraging foreigners to invest in the country?  That was then.  But today, under the 1987 Constitution, does the “absolute confidentiality” clause allow public officials or employees not to disclose or report their dollar deposits in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN)?

That was the gist of Corona’s defense.  Claiming immunity under R.A. 6426, Corona hinged his final defense on R.A. 6426.  During the last day of Corona’s two-day testimony on May 22 and 25, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano asked him some clarificatory questions.  When Cayetano asked Corona how much unreported dollar deposits he owns, Corona answered, “$2.4 million.”

When it was Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s turn to ask clarificatory questions, he asked Corona how much unreported peso deposits he owns, Corona answered, “P80 million.”

Corona insisted that R.A. 6426 supersedes R.A. 6713, which states: “Section 8. Public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.”  But R.A. 6713 was enacted into law on February 20, 1989, twelve years after Marcos’ P.D. 1246, which amended R.A. 6426; therefore R.A. 6713 should prevail over the older R.A. 6426.

Sovereign command

Furthermore, R.A. 6713 was enacted to satisfy the mandate of Article 11, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution, to wit: “A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.”

The nagging question is: Should an older law amended by a presidential decree take precedence over a “sovereign command” of the Constitution?  The 20 senator-judges seemed to be convinced that the Constitution has supremacy and primacy over laws legislated by Congress.  Almost to a person, they voted to convict Corona based on his non-disclosure of his dollar and peso deposit accounts in violation of the Constitution.  As Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said, How can one man use the Constitution, which mandates full public disclosure, to conceal millions of dollars in his personal bank accounts?  This is constitutional perversion in its ultimate form!”

Implosion

But it was Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas who hammered in the prosecution’s arguments to destroy Corona’s defense.  In his closing arguments last May 28, Fariñas pierced Corona’s defense with one word, “palusot,” which translates to lame excuse or alibi.  Throughout his presentation, he used “palusot” numerous times, each time driving a nail into Corona’s coffin.  Could it be that “palusot” was subconsciously translated to “guilty” in the senator-judges’ psyche?

Indeed, “palusot” might have been what crossed the mind of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.  After the prosecution and defense teams made their closing arguments, Revilla informed top officials of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats that he was going to vote for conviction.  It was said that Revilla, who is the President and Vice Chair of Lakas-CMD, decided to go with the “emerging majority vote” because there were not enough senators to vote for acquittal.

With the conviction and removal of Corona from office, President Benigno Aquino III has finally untied the Gordian Knot of corruption.  Corona’s departure would pave the way to judicial reforms, which are badly needed to put the country back on track in the fight against kleptocracy and poverty. There is only one road to take from this day on; that is, the narrow and straight path – “daang matuwid” – to economic progress.

A new dawn of hope is finally upon us.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

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 “The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people!” – Napoleon

Pop goes the world
By Jenny Ortuoste 

Manila Standard Today

May 29 was a historic day for the country, when twenty senators to three voted to impeach Chief Justice Renato Corona after 44 days of trial.

It had played out as a telenovela, with drama on both sides of the dispute grabbing the attention of the nation like no other broadcast production.

Reality, after all, is always stranger and more interesting than fiction. Over the course of the trial, the prosecution was derided for presenting a weak case, the defense for having no better rejoinder than finding loopholes to wiggle through. Fingers were pointed, blame denied and placed, innocence and good faith invoked.

In the end, most of the senators found that Corona’s failure to declare huge cash assets in his statement of assets and liabilities was unacceptable from a man whose position demands adherence to the highest standards of integrity.

Palusot, Congressman Rodolfo Fariñas described Corona’s three-hour explanation, nothing more than an attempt to glibly explain away behavior that violated the spirit of the law and degraded the position of the highest magistrate in the land. It is expected of a decent and honorable man that he own up for his failings. Corona’s whiny diatribe contributed to his diminishment in the eyes of many watching, including the impeachment court.

Concealment of assets is a practice of many who do not wish to pay high taxes or have their other sources of income found out as they may be in violation of the law or ethics, or for some other reason. Corona is not the only one doing this. This is what he implied when he dared the 188 congressmen and Senator Franklin Drilon to sign a waiver to permit their assets to be bared. After his own prevarication having been found out, we would have respected Corona more if he had admitted his mistake.

Looking back, he, and his family would not have been subjected to the anguish and humiliation of this ordeal if he had resigned quietly early on and spared the country this scene and the P6 million it cost the national coffers for the impeachment trial.

This is the downfall of the arrogant, of those who thought that money and power would allow them to behave with impunity and disrespect to the Senate and the Filipino people. Corona’s storming out of the Senate Hall saying rudely “The Chief Justice wishes to be excused” is how he will be remembered from now on.

This country needs true leaders, people who are humble, honest, and sincere in a desire to serve in a leadership capacity and not lead in order to serve themselves and their agenda.

The 23 senators acquitted themselves honorably as a court. Whether they voted for pogi points, on their conscience, or on their principles and conviction, still they took a stand, and that after all was their duty to us, the Filipino people.

The senators’ personal conduct during the trial reflected upon themselves and not the court as a whole. From Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s histrionics, Lito Lapid’s simple speech in Tagalog, and Manuel Villar’s sulky outpouring of his past presidential campaign woes to Juan Ponce Enrile’s clear and erudite summation, all the senators’ speeches expose to us their characters and give us the basis for future decisions on whether to vote for them to continue serving in public office or not.

The trial itself is over. We learned and accomplished much. Now we can move on to the next important thing. Our lawmakers have shown that they can make significant decisions in the face of controversy, a sign of political maturation. Perhaps the Filipino people can now look forward to even more genuine social reforms that will show our country has respect for human rights and adheres to the highest values and principles of humanism.

Let the text of the judgment provide closure (caps and paragraph breaks theirs): “The Senate, sitting as an Impeachment Court, having tried Renato C. Corona, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, upon Three Articles of Impeachment charged against him by the House of Representatives, by a guilty vote of 20 Senators, representing at least two-thirds of all the Members of the SENATE, has found him guilty of the charge under Article II of the said Articles of Impeachment: Now, therefore, be it “ADJUDGED. That Renato C. Corona be, and is hereby, CONVICTED of the charge against him in Article II of the Articles of Impeachment.

“WHEREFORE, in accordance with Article XI, Section 3 (7) of the Constitution, the penalty of removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines is hereby imposed upon respondent Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.

“SO ORDERED. 29 May 2012. Sgd, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, President of the Senate.”

***

Email: jennyo@live.com, Blog: http://jennyo.net, Facebook: Gogirl
Café, Twitter: @jennyortuoste, Radio: DWIZ 882 kHz AM 730-9pm Saturday

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/May/31)

http://opinion.manilastandardtoday.com/2012/05/31/vox-senatus-vox-populi/

By Emil Jurado 
Manila Standard Today

IS the conviction and immediate removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona from office and perpetual disqualification from holding any public office the end of the calvary of the Chief Justice?

Not by a long shot since even now there are those in Malacanang and other administration lapdogs who are looking into his tax obligations after he admitted that he has some P80 million in peso accounts and more than $2.4 million in dollar accounts. And Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales will not let go the opportunity to\o file even plunder for alleged ill-gotten and unexplained wealth.

Santa Banana, that’s how it is when you dare crosswords with the President who can mobilize the entire government machinery at will and at all cost!

* * *

With Chief Justice Corona out of the picture in the Supreme Court what happens now?

This question is foremost in the minds of people who can discern the implications of the impeachment trial of the Chief Magistrate and his removal from office. There are questions, like: Will the Supreme Court now bow to the wishes of the President? With the appointment of a friendlier Chief Justice by the President now shatter the system of checks and balances?

These are questions we can only speculate on. No doubt that the Corona impeachment trial had a chilling effect not only on the Supreme Court justices that some of them may be next on line for impeachment, and even the entire judiciary. In a way, the Corona impeachment and his conviction is salutary in the sense that it is a message loud and clear for the judiciary to shape up, labelled in many ways as also corrupt.

There’s no doubt that with the Corona impeachment and his conviction, the Supreme Court and the entire judiciary was also damaged. And only the judges and the justices in all levels of the judicial system can restore its integrity and credibility.

Let’s also hope that government institutions like the Department of Justice, the Land Registration Authority, the Solicitor General’s Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission on Audit and the Anti-Money Laundering Council will be able to salvage whatever credibility they have left after the Malacanang used them to convict just one man before the eyes of the people the call of the hour is to move on.

My gulay, the people out there are crying loud for more jobs, higher wages, against rising criminality, peace and order in the countrysides, and attention to critical concerns like climate change and global warming, need for infrastructure, livelihood, and food on the table. If President Aquino still can’t get it on the need to focus on gut issues, Santa Banana, I do not know what will!

* * *

I don’t know if the senator-judges who convicted the Chief Justice ever realized it t hat the removal of a Chief Justice can create a very precarious legal situation that can even lead t o a serious and very dangerous constitutional crisis that can push the country over the edge.

With the removal of the Chief Justice comes the question, who will convene the Judicial and Bar Council to decide on nominations for Chief Justice to the President, who will then appoint one?

If we look at the 1987 Constitutional framed during the incumbency of the President’s late mother, President Cory Aquino, a JBC was created headed by the Chief Justice as chairman. It did not name a vice chairman, much less did the Constitution name an “acting Chief Justice.”

Yes, when a Chief Justice is on leave, sick or is on vacation, the most senior associate justice becomes “acting Chief Justice.” But, only in administrative capacity, not Chief Justice as prims inter pares, or first among squads. Like now, with the conviction and removal of Corona, most senior Associate Justice Tony Carpio sits as officer in charge, not as Chief Justice, until a new one gets appointed.

This is where the framers of the 1987 Constitution made a mistake not realizing that with a Chief Justice convicted and removed from office, a legal quagmire happens that can create a constitutional crisis.

Others may argue that since the law abhors a vacuum, the most senior among the justices can act as Chief Justice and convene the JBC. That possibility, to me, and many others, is questionable since as I said, nowhere in the Constitution is there a provision about an acting Chief Justice, much less a JBC vice chairman. Thus, if the President names a replacement of Corona within 90 days as provided for by law by a JBC not convened by a duly-appointed Chief Justice, the President can be charged for culpable violation of the Constitution. And impeached, Santa Banana!

I don’t know how the Supreme Court and legal experts will solve this legal quagmire, but if the President goes through naming Corona’s replacement without a Chief Justice convening the JBC, a constitutional crisis can blow up that can push the country over the edge, God forbid!

* * *

At hindsight, the decision of 20 senator-judges who convicted Chief Justice Corona was more political than judicial.

I have been an avid watcher of the 40-day impeachment trial from beginning to end, and I must say that the decision not to accept the plea of Corona and the defense panel that non-disclosure of Corona’s peso and dollar accounts was not an impeachable offense. For how could there be culpable violation of the Constitution when there’s a law on absolute confidentiality of foreign exchange accounts?

I am certain that even senator-judges themselves have dollar accounts which they have not declared in their SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth). Insofar as Corona’s peso accounts are concerned, he admitted they were comingled. But, he should not have put them under his name.

Be that as it may, if there’s anything salutary about the legal question on the confidentiality of dollar accounts, the decision against Corona should make all public officials now be more transparent and accountable.

* * *

There’s a lot of speculation on who will become Chief Justice. By tradition and seniority, it should be most Senior Associate Justice Tony Carpio, who is competent and with probity.

Carpio was bypassed when Corona was named by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Chief Justice. In my book, Carpio is the most deserving to become Chief Justice, notwithstanding the fact that “The Firm,” which he co-founded had a falling out with Gloria.

I don’t believe that Carpio can be considered as friendly to President Aquino. I’d rather categorize him as independent-minded, which the Supreme Court needs at the moment. Carpio is no lackey to any President.

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/May/31)

http://opinion.manilastandardtoday.com/2012/05/31/constitutional-crisis-in-the-offing/

SEARCH FOR TRUTH
By Ernesto M. Maceda
The Philippine Star

The conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust is a resounding victory for President Noynoy Aquino. It puts him firmly in control of the legislative branch of government and he is well on his way to getting control of the Supreme Court after 3 more appointments before the end of 2013. Justice Mariano del Castillo is reportedly planning to resign. Two justices are due to retire in 2013.

Corona’s fate was sealed after the Enrile bloc of 6 senators met on Sunday and decided to cast guilty votes after the damaging testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales who submitted a 17-page AMLA report confirming the dollar transactions of Chief Justice Corona.

Corona’s last minute effort to get a verdict of acquittal failed when he walked out last Tuesday and angered the Senate President and many senators.

His last night submission of waiver of the confidentiality of his bank deposits also did not save him in view of his admission that he had $2.4 million in dollar accounts and P80.7 million in co-mingled peso deposits which was surprisingly big.

The legal arguments of Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Bongbong Marcos and Joker Arroyo were not accepted by the 20 senators who rejected CJ Corona’s interpretation of RA 6426 that his dollar deposits were confidential and that therefore he had no obligation to report them in his SALN.

As mentioned by several senators, the $2.4 million and P80.7 million bank deposits were so huge and shocking, it gave indications of ill-gotten wealth. Sen. President Enrile said that the co-mingled accounts should have been declared as assets and also as liabilities.

As Usec. Abigail Valte said, it was democracy at work.

* * *

ENRILE’S EXPLANATION . . In a 15-minute explanation of his vote, Senate President Enrile rejected CJ Corona’s interpretation of RA 6426 that he claimed excused him from reporting his dollar deposits.

Enrile, however, lamented the failure of the defense and prosecution panels to present officials from the AMLC and the depository banks to authenticate the AMLC records.

Privately, Enrile said that it was a mistake for the defense to have called Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales as a hostile witness.

Enrile got the support of Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Vicente Sotto III, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Legarda and Manny Villar, which swung the tide in favor of conviction.

Senator Chiz Escudero tried to cushion his vote by stating that he did not approve the manner which the House conducted its impeachment proceedings. He nonetheless concluded that Corona’s non-declaration of all his dollar deposits and peso deposits was an impeachable offense. He called on President Aquino, Cabinet Members, Senators and Congressmen to sign waivers of the confidentiality of their bank accounts.

Sen Alan Peter Cayetano expressed the same sentiments as Senator Escudero.

Sen. Lito Lapid did not explain his vote.

* * *

BELMONTE’S TAKE . . House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in a press conference said that the conclusion of the impeachment process shows that the system of government was working.

He joined Congressman Erin Tañada in saying that this is no cause for a celebration but he emphasized that the conviction was a victory for the democratic system of government.

About 50 Congressmen attended Tuesday’s session including Congressmen Ted Jaresco, Jerry Treñas, Janette Garin, Ben Evardone, Anton Lagdameo, Sonny Collantes, Tom Apacible and Ryan Singson.

* * *

CORONA ACCEPTS DECISION . . In a statement from his hospital bed, Chief Justice Renato Corona graciously accepted his “calvary.”

He had endured for the last 6 months.

“If this will be good for country, I now accept the calvary we have endured, because even from the start, I was ready to lay my life for the nation.”

“Therefore I leave it up to God and the public who are more powerful in our democracy, my future and the future of our judiciary.

“Let us put a stop to the politics of personal attacks. Let us put out the poison brought about by too much partisanships, divisiveness and uncontrolled anger,” he appealed.

Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto said the decision is immediately executory.

The President has 90 days to name a replacement. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is of the view that the President cannot appoint an outsider for Chief Justice but must appoint one of the incumbent justices.

* * *

POLITICAL UPDATE . . 200 leaders of Laguna led by San Pablo City Mayor Vicente “Beteng” Amante, Board Members Danton Amante, Angelica Jones and Ed Alajar took their oath as Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) members before President Joseph Estrada at the Club Filipino yesterday.

Proclaimed as PMP-Una candidates for Governor was incumbent Governor E.R. Ejercito with PLC President, Board Member Danton Amante as his running mate for vice-governor. They will be opposed by Cong. Egay San Luis and Vice-Governor Cesar Perez.

Also inducted was Dennis Padilla, candidate for Board Member in the 3rd District. Mayor Vicente Amante said he is fielding ABS-CBN reporter Sol Aragones to run for Congress against incumbent Rep. Ivy Arago of the LP in the 3rd District.

Talk of the affair was the 20-3 conviction vote against CJ Corona. People as a rule expressed surprise at the big number of votes for conviction.

The Laguna leaders expressed the view that Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ explanation of his “acquittal” vote was excellent.

The question now — Will their vote help reelect the 6 reelectionist senators who voted to convict?

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=812466&publicationSubCategoryId=64

POSTSCRIPT
By Federico D. Pascual Jr.
The Philippine Star

SELF-INFLICTED: Listening to the senator-judges explain their votes at the conclusion Tuesday of the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, one gets the feeling it was the accused who convicted himself.

Many senators, including Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who presided over the 44-day trial that began Jan. 16, noted the sloppy preparation and performance of the prosecution panel.

It was widely noticed that the prosecution brought in hurriedly assembled charges and exaggerated claims, then just went fishing for evidence using summons of the impeachment court.

The bungling of the prosecution led by Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. could have been fatal had not the defense — burdened by its having the country’s top lawyer as client — blundered on key tactical points.

* * *

WHO TO THANK?: Aware of its lackluster performance, the Tupas team could not bring itself to celebrate with a victory party after the impeached Chief Justice was pronounced guilty by a 20-3 vote.

Tupas, still dreaming of a senatorial slot in the Liberal Party slate for 2013, turned to congratulate the faceless “people” for supporting them, he said, in bringing down the chief magistrate.

He should thank instead the Chief Justice and his defense team led by former justice Serafin Cuevas who, jointly and severally, brought upon themselves that crushing defeat in the hands of amateurish lawyers.

* * *

TACTICAL BLUNDERS: These big blunders of the defense overshadowed the prosecution’s bungling that was still in the minds of the senator-judges and the public jury in the gallery and outside:

• Calling in Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales as a hostile witness, presumably to expose her as a liar in reporting that the Chief Justice was hiding several bank accounts teeming with millions of dollars.

• Corona’s walking out without permission after the senators patiently listened for three hours to the sob story of his Calvary and how President Aquino and his attack dogs, one of them in the Senate, have been hounding him and his commingled family.

One wonders if it was Corona himself or Cuevas who came up with the not-so-bright idea of summoning the Ombudsman to the witness stand.

* * *

HOSTILE, INDEED: Seasoned litigation lawyers will tell you the perils of calling to the witness stand somebody beyond your control, and asking him/her questions whose answers you are not sure about.

A former colleague of Corona in the High Court and known to have been at odds with him on some issues, Morales certainly was/is beyond the control of Cuevas or whoever may be assigned to examine her.

To the consternation of the defense, Morales came equipped with a PowerPoint presentation showing graphically what she said were 82 secret bank accounts of Corona bulging with as much as $12 million.

Her data, in living color, may not be entirely correct nor their sourcing and verification airtight — but at that point, who could say?

While the defense was confounded, the audience was credulous, it seemed.

* * *

NO COUNTER: Because Morales was presented as a defense witness, although admittedly hostile, Corona’s lawyers were hard put to disown, deny, dilute or disprove information she was presenting.

The prosecution that brought her before the court was not in control. And it was too risky to ask her more questions since her answers might even make matters worse.

Cuevas’ team had no contrary documents to put before the senator-judges and the viewers of the live TV coverage. How could the defense have countered or deadened the impact of Morales’ presentation?

No wonder it was the top story in the evening TV news and in the morning papers the next day.

* * *

EXPOSED TO FIRE: After the Ombudsman’s presentation, the defense could no longer escape presenting the Chief Justice. Only he could show that Morales’ bombshell was a dud or at least not as deadly as it seemed.

The defense wanted to avoid exposing the Chief Justice to the scrutiny and sniping of the senators known to be part of the Yellow crowd, but pressure for him to testify mounted.

The blunder of calling the Ombudsman as a hostile witness had spawned another blunder — a forced move — that of making the Chief Justice testify under oath and opening him to unfriendly fire.

* * *

DAMAGE REPAIR: Returning to the stand gave Corona a chance to repair the damage of his improperly walking out on the Senate court days earlier and to follow up on crucial points in his testimony.

It was also to be a stage for reiterating his call for all officials of consequence, including President Aquino, to sign a waiver on the secrecy protecting their peso and foreign-currency deposits.

He was to try salvaging his first waiver-signing that fell flat after he attached a condition that it would be effective only if Sen. Franklin Drilon and the 188 congressmen behind the impeachment charges signed the same waiver.

* * *

BIG FISH: But his followup appearance developed into quicksand when several senators asked him about the 82 dollar accounts reported by the Ombudsman.

While he countered that his dollar accounts were not 82 but only four, he had to reply, when asked, that he had $2.4 million deposited not $12 million.

The dam broke loose. Even “just” $2.4 million was still too large an amount not to declare in his statement of cash assets. That, plus the P80 million that he said was commingled with money of family members, did him in.

Most of the senators in explaining their votes zeroed in on the $2.4 million, whose non-disclosure was to them (except for three senators) a culpable violation warranting impeachment.

As it is said, a fish is caught by its mouth. And Chief Justice Renato C. Corona is one big fish.

* * *

RESEARCH: Past POSTSCRIPTs can be accessed at manilamail.com. Keep up with us via Twitter.com/@FDPascual. Send feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=812462&publicationSubCategoryId=64

By Dexter Rodrigo Matilla
The Philippine Star

Timeline and transcript of the Senate’s voting on the impeachment trial of Chief Jusitce Renato Corona.

Result:

Guilty – 20

Acquit – 3

2:39 PM Angara: No position demands moral uprightness than a seat in the judiciary. A standard far higher is placed on Chief Justice Renato Corona. On the whole the defense main objection doesn’t sound acceptable since the Chief Justice admitted to the existence of the accounts. I find the respondent GUILTY.

2:40 PM Arroyo: This is not justice… For sure, not the law of the constitution. It is naked power. As it was in 1972… For what it’s worth, I cast my vote. If not for the law and the constitution that we were able to restore under Cory Aquino. VOTE: ACQUIT.

2:42 PM A. Cayetano: Leviticus 19:15. simple lang naman ang isyu. Sino ba ang nagsasabi ng katotohanan? Base sa ebidensya naibigay sa korte na ito, ano ba ang katotohanan? May cancer po ang ating lipunan. Iba ang sa mayaman, iba ang sa mahirap. Para sa mayaman, ang simple, ginagawang kumplikado. Hindi ko po pwedeng matanggap na isang public official, sa isang simpleng paraan na i-convert ang kanyang pera sa dollar ay hindi na ide-declare sa kaniyang SALN. Pati ba naman sa pera may diskriminasyon tayo. When a public official is faced with two possible interpretation of the law… to choose to protect the constitution and not himself. Ano ba ang sinasabi naten sa mahirap? Bawal ang magnakaw. Bakit sa mayaman bawal magnakaw… ng kaunti? Pukpukin ang batas kung dun ka malakas. Pero kung hinde, pukpukin mo na lang ang mesa. Sabi sa akin, mag-abstain ka na lang. Kumplikado naman ang batas. We can agree on safeguards and protection. Vote: GUILTY

2:57 PM P. Cayetano: …Dollar deposits are absolutely confidential, thus, providing him with a shield. It is republic Act 6713, code of conduct among public officials and employees… Bakit pwedeng itago ang pera sa dolyar. Makatarungan ba yon? It requires stating assets such as cash on hand and in banks. I echo that call for transparency. All those in public service must not hide behind our titles. Vote: GUILTY

3:03 PM Santiago: Impeachable offenses involve: treason, bribery, other high crimes, and betrayal of public trust. Did his failure to declare amount to an impeachable offense? No!! As a former lawyer and a future judge of the International Criminal Court it makes me angry the way your minds run. As a former RTC judge, I find it reprehensible that the AMLA document was presented without authentication. Why would a suspected criminal leave his calling card at the scene of a crime? Marami dito sa Pilipinas naglalagay ng pangalan sa ibang tao. Kung malinis tayo, why does the International Transparency Court list us as one of the most corrupt countries in the world?!? That’s why it is difficult to win in any international election, campaign because the Philippines is a corrupt country!! I thought I was unlimited!? Would you be surprised if I voted NOT GUILTY? Vote: ACQUIT

3:24: PM Drilon: How can the respondent, the Chief Justice no less, claim good faith in the interpretation of the law? He has lost his moral fitness, betrayed public trust. I find the respondent GUILTY.

3:28 PM Escudero: It is written, judge not lest you want to be judged. Maliwanag para sa akin ang batas, hindi ito nagbabanggaan. Sana po sya at ang kasong ito, ang maghudyat ng bagong simula para sa ating bansa. Panahon na upang taasan naten ang antas ng naninilbihan sa ating bansa.Dalangin ko po na maghilom ito, tama na, magtrabaho tayo, let us move on, move forward. Ano mang hatol ang igawad ng hukumang ito, hindi naman magkakatrabaho ang walang trabaho, hind gagaling ang may sakit… To the Chief Justice and his family, I wish you well. Mr. President, on Article II , I render judgment against the respondent. Vote: GUILTY

3:38 PM Estrada: Sa paglilitis na ating isinagawa sa harap ng sambayanang Pilipino, binigyang buhay naten ang diwa ang proseso ng ating batas. Today, I join the nation in a fervent prayer that we can begin healing the wounds of the nation inflicted by this trial. I pray that as we conclude this defining moment, we can unite once again as a nation. The Chief Justice is a learned man. Isang opisyal na malalim ang kaalaman tungkol sa batas. I therefore make this painful decision, with a heavy heart, but confident that we have given justice to our people. Ang nasasakdal ay nagkasala. In my eyes, he is GUILTY.

3:45 PM Guingona: Nagkaroon ba ng paglabag at paglapastangan sa sagradong batas ng Pilipinas? Nilabag ba niya ang utos ng Saligang Batas na dapat sya ay maging accountable sa lahat ng pagkakataon? Ang sagot ko po “opo nilabag po”.Anong aasahan nateng pagtatanggol kung ang puno neto ang unang humahanap ng paraan upang makalusot sa batas. Mr. President, I vote to convict the accused Chief Justice of the Supreme Couty. Vote: GUILTY

3:51 PM Honasan: I know what it is like to have my family maligned and to be deprived due process. That being said, this trial is not about personalities, emotions, or partisan politics. this is about judging whether the highest magistrate of the highest court of the land is fit for the job. Is his understanding of the law absolute and beyond question, as the position demands?An institution is only as strong as its leaders. It is my opinion that we have not proven if the defendor is corrupt. Ang malinaw po ngayon ay may duda na. I vote the Chief Justice to step down from the pedestal… so he may once again walk among our people, where all public officials will be judged. Ang hatol ko po ay GUILTY.

3:55 PM Lacson: When a witness takes the stand, he swears to tell the truth. An error in judgment has no place in this trial because it is final and irreversible.An acquittal may be difficult to define. I vote GUILTY.

3:58 PM Lapid: Bilang high school graduate po, sa ating mga kababayan, anong sasabihin ni Lito Lapid na hindi marunong mag-Ingles, hindi ma-alam sa batas. Siguro po purihin naten ang depensa, napakagaling po nila, sa mga nakakaintindi ng batas. Purihin din po naten ang prosecution… para sa akin po ay malinaw na malinaw na si Chief Justice Corona po ay lumabag ng batas. Siya po mismo ay umamin na may P80M… Hindi po ako pwede magsalita ng republic act dahil hindi maniniwala ang tao sa akin. Ang ginagamit ko lang po ay konsiyensya. Nung nagsasalita po dito si Chief Justice Corona, nagsusumbong sa taong-bayan, awang-awa po ako sa kaniya. Ngunit hindi po pala iyon totoo. Mas pinaniwalaan ko pa po si Farinas, na may Powerpoint.Pasensya na po, pasensya na po. Ang hatol ko sa inyo ay GUILTY.

4:04 PM Legarda: Mahirap po humusga lalo na kung ang nasasakdal ay ang Chief Justice. While we ponder on the three articles of impeachment… I select Article II to be the anchor of my verdict.Disclosure of SALN is the only way of earning public trust. Public trust is earned through transparency.If we acquit the Chief Justice, we would lift up the floodgates of suspicion. It is not easy, it is painful but we must do it, I therefore vote for removal of public office. I vote to convict.Vote: GUILTY

4:10 PM Marcos:This is an important and momentous event and we must thread lightly. When the furor has died down, i know that like lady justice, this decision may not be popular, but it is fair and just. I vote to ACQUIT.

4:15 PM Osmeña III: Did he do it knowingly and willingly? Has Justice Corona betrayed the public trust? If the court had been supplied the bank passbook, showing a deposit of $10,000, would the court ruling have been the same? The Senate impeachment court was restore the faith. Vote: GUILTY

4:22 PM Pangilinan: Ano ang masama na ideklara nya ang lahat? Kung wala naman syang itinatago. It pains me as a lawyer and an officer of the court to say that clearly, the Chief Justice displayed a wanton disregard in the declaration of statement of assets and liabilities. Siya ba ay dapat pa natin pagkatiwalaan? Kung di naten i-convict, ayon nga sa sinabi ni Speaker Belmonte, anim na taon pa siya uupo. Kung kaya niya ipakita ang pambabastos sa 23 na Senador, paano pa kaya ang pagtrato nya sa maliliit natin na mga kababayan? Dapat po siya managot dahil siya ay nagkasala. Tama ba na ang pagsisinungaling ng maliliit at mahihirap ay parusahan? He should not only be dismissed but also be disbarred. No ifs or buts. Respect for the rule of law will only be realized if punishment to the guilty is swift in a fair trial. Those who wish to abuse will continue to be embolden. The rule of law should be respected and it should strike fear to those who want to violate it. Vote: GUILTY

4:29 PM Pimentel III: Kung ayaw mo ma-disclose ang iyong yaman, wag ka pumasok sa gobyerno. Ang batas para kay Juan ay batas din para kay Renato. Therefore the Senator Judge find Chief Justice Corona GUILTY.

4:51 PM Recto: My job is to choose what is right, not what is popular. In an impeachment complaint, length is not strength. Haste makes waste. In the case of the Chief Justice SALN, it is so huge that it cannot be brushed aside as innocent. I vote GUILTY.

4:55 PM Revilla: Quotes Roosevelt. In the end, I arrive at the conclusion that through his own admition, the Chief Justice failed to declare all his assets in his SALN. Napakahirap man, alang-alang sa pagkakaisa at paghilom ng ating bayan, alang-alang sa pagpapatibay ng mga institusyon ng ating pamahalan, i find Chief Justice Renato Corona GUILTY.

5:00 PM Sotto: GUILTY

5:02 PM Trillanes: My verdict is GUILTY. A conviction effects transparency.It also signifies that our system of checks and balances is working well. And that impeachment can be used as a tool to make high goverment officials accountable. No one is untouchable.

5:05 PM Villar: My vote is for the conviction of the Chief Justice. Nahirapan po ako sa desisyon na ito. Vote: GUILTY

5:15 PM Enrile: This trial began and unfolded against the backdrop of a deep political fissure, which threatened the stability of our structure. The culmination of this national drama is at hand and the time has come for me to render judgment on the person before him I took my oath of office as a senator of this republic, no less than the chief justice of the supreme court, Renato Corona. It seems as if the case was being built up after the case was filed. Even before the honorable ombudsman was called to testify before this court, her letter to the Chief Justice to explain the accounts, was leaked to the media. We have sternly cautioned against an unprofessional conduct, to use the media to advance so-called information and evidence to provoke this court and its members. We try to impress upon everyone to test our will that this court means business and would not succumb to allow such under-handed tactics and gimmickry to deter this court from our task.This court, at one point have extensive discussions and differences of opinions to be sure regarding the charges contained in Article 2.4.We cannot ignore the fact that the failure or refusal of officials in high government positions to provide the public or the media a copy of their SALN continues to be a raging issue today.I am not oblivious to the possible political repercussions of the verdict we are to call upon today. With full trust that the Almighty will see us through, I vote that Chief Justice Corona GUILTY

5:56 PM Summary of votes is read. 20 senators vote guilty, 3 vote acquit.

5:58 PM Enrile pounds the gavel.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=812000&publicationSubCategoryId=200

20-3 vote ends first completed impeach trial

BY JP LOPEZ and WENDELL VIGILIA
MALAYA

By a vote of 20-3, the impeachment tribunal found Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona guilty of culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust for his failure to disclose in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth his properties and dollar bank deposits.

The Chief Justice was removed from his post in the country’s first impeachment trial that came to a conclusion.

Sens. Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. chose to acquit Corona saying his failure to include cash-in-banks in his SALN “does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.”

Presiding judge Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who was last to cast his vote, held Corona guilty as charged on the ground of Corona’s deliberate act of excluding substantial assets from his sworn SALN.

The court was also discharged from deciding on two other Articles of Impeachment.

Defense lead counsel former Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas said the decision is not executory. “If we follow the rules on criminal procedure, this will be after 15 days,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas has said Corona’s camp might appeal the ruling before the Supreme Court through a certiorari. However, he said he has to consult Corona first.

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. sealed Corona’s fate as the 16th senator who found Corona guilty of the charge, the necessary number to affirm the impeachment complaint filed by the House of Representatives.

Aside from Enrile and Revilla, those who voted guilty were Sens. Edgardo Angara, siblings Alan and Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, Teofisto Guingona III, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Sergio Osmeña III, Francis Pangilinan, Aquilino Pimentel III, Ralph Recto, Vicente Sotto III, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Manuel Villar Jr.

Both Joker Arroyo and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in casting their vote for Corona’s acquittal, maintained that his failure to declare all his assets in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) is not an impeachable offense.

In her 25-minute explanation of her vote, Santiago, whose speech was the longest and the loudest among all senators, even practically asked her colleagues to cast the first stone if they are as clean as they should be, saying many of them use the “loopholes” in the SALN law “but are not caught or impeached.”

Santiago, a former regional trial court judge, said she found it “reprehensible” that an Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) document was introduced in evidence, without authentication, as required by the rules of evidence.

Santiago noted that the defendant used his own name in all his questioned transactions when he could have done otherwise, “if his purpose was invisibility.”

“Why would a suspected criminal leave his calling cards at the scene of the crime?” she said

Arroyo, for his part, said the House of Representatives is asking the Senate to remove the Chief Justice from office “all because he allegedly submitted an erroneous SALN.”

“I cannot imagine removing a Chief Justice on account of a SALN,” Arroyo said. “Today we’re one step from violating the Constitution…no one can stop us if we do not stop ourselves.”

Arroyo indirectly accused President Aquino of acting dictatorial in pushing for Corona’s impeachment.

He said the issue is not judicial, political or legal since “it is only naked power as it was in 1972 (when Marcos declared Martial Law).”

Sen. Edgardo Angara, the first who voted for conviction, said he may have granted the Chief Justice’s plea of honest mistake of judgment but could not do so because of Corona’s wide knowledge of the law.

“His willful and deliberate omission, together with the magnitude of the subject matter, amounts to a culpable violation—thus a failure meriting condemnation,” Angara said.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said it would be lamentable to acquit Corona when an ordinary public employee was dismissed for failing to declare in her SALN her ownership of a market stall.

“Bakit sa mayaman bawal magnakaw? ‘Pag konti,” he asked, drawing laughter. “Kapag mayayaman poprotekatahan, sa mahirap, sasabihin sa presinto ka na magpaliwanag.”

Sen. Franklin Drilon said he could not accept that Corona’s claim of good faith in having hidden assets.

“How can the Chief Justice claim good faith in asserting such a twisted interpretation of the law? Besides, the defense of good faith cannot be invoked. The punishable act of non-reporting of assets in one’s SALN is mala prohibita, where good faith is immaterial,” he said.

Sen. Francis Escudero said he could not accept Corona’s defense that his dollar accounts is protected by R.A. 6426 which he said prohibits not the account owner but the banks from disclosing it.

“Kung ayaw mo ito ideklara, eh di huwag kang tumakbo para sa, o tumanggap ng anumang, pwesto sa pamahalaan. Subalit kung ikaw ay nasa pamahalaan, kelangan mo itong ideklara,” he said.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said he could not accept that the mistakes were committed in good faith and that the dollar accounts were covered by absolute confidentiality.

“The Chief Justice is a learned man of law isang opisyal na hindi lamang malalim ang kaalaman sa batas, kundi isang opisyal na may tungkuling basahin kung ano ang ibig sabihin ng mga batas,” he said.

Estrada added: “Bilang Punong Mahistrado, siya ay dapat na may higit na kaalaman at pag-unawa sa diwa ng batas at tungkulin niyang ipatupad ito nang walang bahid na pagtatakip sa pansariling interes.”

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III agreed, saying the Chief Justice is mangling the intent of the Constitution just to save himself.

“How could one man use the very same constitution which mandates full public disclosure to justify the concealment of millions of dollars in his personal bank accounts?” he said.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan said he tried to acquit Corona out of compassion but could not find it while Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he could not accept Corona’s defense since “I find it hard to believe his testimony that he does not understand accounting.”

Lacson noted that Corona used to work as a senior officer of the tax and corporate group of a prominent accounting firm, Sycip Gorres and Velayo and Company and even taught commercial law, taxation and corporate law at the Ateneo de Manila University for 17 years.

Marcos, in his dissenting opinion, said the Bill of Rights is supreme over all the powers of government, including the power to impeach.

“And nowhere is this precept more opposite that in this case, where the government has mustered all the resources at its disposal, not only to secure evidence against the chief justice but further to ensure his conviction,” Marcos said.

He said the issues that have piqued the interest of senator-judges and the public “were outside the original ambit of the impeachment complaint and have been brought forth only after its filing.”

Enrile admitted difficulty in coming out with a decision.

“This trial began and unfolded against the backdrop of a highly charged and emotional atmosphere, acrimonious debate in and outside the confines of this court, and a deep political fissure which threatened the stability of our democratic institutions,” he said.

Enrile said he believed that the prosecution hastily crafted the impeachment complaint and the case was built up after the charges were actually filed.

But the defense of Corona, when he himself testified, that his dollar accounts were covered by absolute confidentiality under the foreign currency law and that the peso deposits were commingled funds and therefore need not be declared in the SALN, is “misplaced,” Enrile said.

“If, indeed, any of the respondent’s cash deposits were co-mingled with the funds belonging to other parties such as the Basa Guidote Enterprises, Inc. (BGEI) or his children, the respondent was still duty bound to declare these deposits in his SALN, they being admittedly under his name,” he said.

During the explanation of votes, most senators who affirmed Corona’s impeachment compared the case of the chief justice to Davao regional trial court interpreter, Delsa Flores who was dismissed from office, with the forfeiture of benefits, after she failed to disclose in her SALN a stall she owned in a public market.

Senators also believed that the amount the magistrate failed to disclose in his SALN was too huge to ignore.

“This boils down to the degree of the unintentional miscalculation, and logic dictates that we accept slight inaccuracies… (but) in the case of the chief justice’s SALN, the undeclared assets are so huge, 50 times more than what he declared in cash – $2.4 million in US dollar deposits, P80 million in peso deposits – that they cannot be brushed aside as innocent,” Recto said.

Lapid for his part, voted to convict Corona, but admitted that he was moved by Corona’s story about how his family suffered during the entire impeachment trial.

“Naawa po ako sa kanya. Akala ko totoo sinasabi niya, hindi pala,” Lapid said.

He said, however, that he began to doubt Corona when he presented a “pizza pie” on dollar accounts the chief justice presented in a slide show.

Osmena, for his part, said that if public officers could be dismissed from office for failing to declare far less valuable assets in their SALNs, “there is more reason to apply the law when the assets in question amount to over P180 million.”

Trillanes also said a conviction “signifies that transparency and accountability as principles in governance take precedence over legal technicalities.”

http://www.malaya.com.ph/index.php/news/nation/5179-corona-convicted

By Edu Punay
The Philippine Star

Chief Justice Renato Corona asked for the forgiveness of his wife Cristina and their children and grandchildren “because in my bid to defend the independence of the judiciary, I put them in a Calvary they should have not experienced.”

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona accepted yesterday the verdict of the impeachment court convicting him of culpable violation of the Constitution.

Corona and his family watched the verdict in his room on the 15th floor of The Medical City hospital in Pasig, where he has been confined for about a week.

In a statement released hours after the voting at the Senate, Corona said he had surrendered his fate from the start when he submitted himself to the impeachment process.

“Kung ito po ang ikabubuti ng ating bayan, tinatanggap ko na po ang kalbaryong aming pinagdaanan (If this will be for the better of our country, I am accepting this Calvary we’re going through),” he said.

“Dahil sa simula’t sapul naman ay handa na akong mag-alay ng sariling buhay para sa bayan (Because even from the start I was ready to sacrifice my life for the nation).

“Kung kaya, ipinapaubaya ko na po sa ating Poong Maykapal at sa taong bayan na higit na makapangyarihan sa ating demokrasya ang aking kinabukasan at ang kinabukasan ng ating Hudikatura (That’s why I am surrendering myself to the Lord and our people who are more powerful in our democracy, my fate and the future of our judiciary).”

Supreme Court spokesman Midas Marquez said Corona was calm while watching the senator-judges explain their votes.

Corona asked his critics and accusers to end the “politics of personal attacks” and “vanquish the poison caused by too much divisiveness and unstoppable hatred and anger.”

“Panahon na upang isulong ang ating buhay bilang isang bansa (It’s time for us to move forward as one nation),” he said.

Yet Corona insisted on his innocence.

“But bad politics prevailed,” he said. “I am innocent. There’s no truth to the allegations against me in the Articles of Impeachment. My conscience is clear.”

Corona said the impeachment had drawn a bad picture of him contrary to the truth.

“Hindi kaila sa akin na gagamitin ng Pangulo ang buong puwersa ng gobyerno, kasama na ang mga ahensiyang dapat sana ay malayang nagpapasiya – ang Kamara, ang BIR, ang LRA, ang AMLC, ang Ombudsman, at iba pa. (We all know how the

President used the entire force of government, including agencies that should be independent – the House, the BIR (Bureau of Internal

Revenue), the LRA (Land Registration Authority), the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council), and the Ombudsman and others,)” he said.

“Hindi rin kaila sa akin na gagamit ng kabang-yaman para sa mapanira at mapang-aping media campaign, sa radyo, telebisyon a tdyaryo, laban sa akin at sa aking pamilya. (We are also aware how resources of government were used in destructive media campaign in radio, television and newspapers against me and my family).”

Corona said he was saddened by the verdict, especially since he hoped he would be cleared after facing the charges head on.

He thanked the three senators who voted to acquit him – Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. – and who believed in his cause to fight for rights and the independence of the judiciary.

Stable condition

Corona is in stable condition, said Anne de la Cruz, manager of corporate communications of Medical City.

De la Cruz could not say how Corona initially reacted as the Senate issued a 20-3 guilty verdict on him.

Reporters and photographers who tried to get the statement of Corona after the Senate proceedings were barred by security guards from coming near his private room.

At about 7:15 p.m., De la Cruz, accompanied by dozens of security guards, distributed a three-page statement of Corona, where he stated that he was saddened by the senator-judges’ decision.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio will become acting Chief Justice.

Under SC rules, the next most senior justice takes over when the Chief Justice is on leave or removed from the post.

Carpio will act as Chief Justice in a temporary capacity until President Aquino has named a new Chief Justice.

The Judicial and Bar Council may submit a list of nominees for the position of Chief Justice and another list for the position of associate justice.

Under the Constitution, a vacancy in the judiciary has to be filled within 90 days from its occurrence.

If Carpio is named Chief Justice, an associate justice has to be appointed to complete the lineup in the 15-member Supreme Court that sits as a full court and in three divisions of five justices each. — With Non Alquitran, Alexis Romero

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=812140&publicationSubCategoryId=63