Chief Justice Renato Coronaâ€™s much-anticipated appearance in the Senate for his impeachment trial was met with, unsurprisingly, negative reactions and remarks. It was clear that the Filipino people are not interested in the very least to hear what the respondent had to say; they just wanted him to show up so they can ridicule him all the more. Despite what Filipinos everywhere said about demanding the truth from Coronaâ€™s mouth, they are not really after the truth; they are only after someone whom they can verbally beat up like a lingual punching bag. We are not a truth-based society; instead, we are a ridicule-based society, especially when people are convinced that, in repeatedly demeaning the respondentâ€™s image, the truth is on their side.
To add insult to injury, Coronaâ€™s health just had to be compromised at the end of his testimony, and was subsequently given medical attention, later transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of The Medical City hospital. Many Filipinos, mindful of the infamous ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyoâ€™s medical struggle, denounced Coronaâ€™s ordeal as a â€œdramaâ€ of some sort. I find this reasoning a bit suspect however, for the straightforward reason that as Chief Justice, Corona should know how his little â€œactâ€ would turn out; horribly.
First, Arroyo, whom many Filipinos passionately detest, was condemned especially when she appeared to be sick, her condition quickly judged as a â€œdrama.â€ One would seriously think that if Corona intends to get away from everything through acting, he would be more creative than to act â€œsickâ€ and instantly earn the ire of the Filipinos who simply canâ€™t move on from the Arroyo incident. And yet he went sick.
Second, as Chief Justice, Corona would know very well the consequences of disrespecting the Senate, intentionally or not, by casually walking out without permission. Remember that Coronaâ€™s fate practically rests on the judgment of the senator-judges. As someone who wants to get acquitted, shouldnâ€™t he be more prudent before getting on the wrong side of the judges, directly affecting his verdict?
And yet the chain of events took place all the same, and Corona clearly got the bad side of the Senate President, Juan Ponce Enrile, with the defense panel taking much of the blow. If the respondent intends to get away from all of this scot-free as many Filipinos allege, seriously one should consider that this is one ridiculous ploy, putting Corona in a more dangerous position despite his vast legal knowledge as Chief Justice?
Of course, these points are raised just in case Filipinos are not convinced of the fact that the doctors tending to Corona has already issued their statements regarding his condition.
Meanwhile, as Corona fights a new battle, lead defense lawyer Serafin Cuevas is keen on turning things around.
Chief Justice Renato Coronaâ€™s defense team is prepared to seek a mistrial should the verdict of the Senate impeachment court show “grave abuse of discretion.”
Determined to uphold the rule of law, Cuevas stated the following:
Asked if the Senate has already shown abuse of discretion, Cuevas said they would still review the case.
“Siyempre babasahin namin uli â€˜yung [Of course we will still read the] transcript so … hindi naman lahat ng error ng court ay [not all the courtâ€™s errors are] grave abuse of discretion sufficient to raise the issue of mistrial,” he added.
â€œGrave abuse of discretionâ€ is defined as follows:
The exercise of power in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility. Such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility.
A GR Post article in the past has explained the legitimacy of declaring a mistrial in the Chief Justiceâ€™s impeachment trial; namely, the grave misconduct of the prosecutors, but still the trial pressed on to satisfy the Filipinosâ€™ insatiable vindictiveness. And now, we have another prospect of mistrial based on â€œgrave abuse of discretion.â€ Whether this will be given due attention is yet to be known, but I can hazard a theory that can legitimize this assertion; this concerns the esteemed senator-judge Franklin Drilon.
Asked about Coronaâ€™s controversial challenge to him and the congressmen in the prosecution panel, Drilon made the following remarks:
“I will not fall into his trap. I will not go down to his level. He is pathetic! That is all part of his game-plan. It only shows that the Chief Justice has no intention to be cross-examined by the impeachment court, that he, after all, is insincere when he said he is willing to divulge all his bank accounts, including his dollar accounts. We are not the ones on trial. We are not the ones being tried at the impeachment court.â€
Feisty words by Drilon we have here, considering the fact that he is one of the people who are supposed to give Corona a well-thought, unbiased verdict. And as far as the definition of â€œgrave abuse of discretion is concerned,â€ his actions are well within the book. The second sentence speaks quite well of him, given his utter… recklessness, wouldnâ€™t you say?
Reasons for mistrial have been given throughout the course of the impeachment trial. Hopefully, people, especially the Senate, are prudent enough to give this a thought.
As to Coronaâ€™s controversial challenge, this concerns, of course, his â€œwaiver.â€
â€œChief Justice Renato Corona on Tuesday sprang a surprise on the Senate impeachment court by waiving the confidentiality of his local and dollar accounts in an emotional testimony, but on certain conditions.
At the end of his three-hour opening statement,â€ Corona signed in open court a draft waiving the confidentiality of his four dollar accounts, but challenged Senator Franklin Drilon, who has helped the prosecutors ferret out evidence against him from witnesses, and the 188 lawmaker-complainants to do the same.â€
While some agreed that itâ€™s high time the government become more transparent, Coronaâ€™s dare was generally met with criticism from Filipinos, who are quick to argue that since he is the one on trial, he was being disrespectful for dragging the other members of the Senate court into the fray. But, wait a minute.
Filipinos assert that the impeachment of the Chief Justice is supposed to embody the sense of justice that they possess. In the course of the trial, this sense of justice consists mainly of forcing the respondent to disclose his assets, even in the presence of laws stating that certain assets may be opened with the ownerâ€™s permission. Other elements of this sense of justice also include misbehaving in the part of the prosecutors, magical fairies sending dubious evidences to people who wish to persecute the respondent, and bad accounting.
But Corona is giving the people what they want, in the spirit of liberality and justice. Corona not only signed his waiver authorizing government bodies to examine his accounts, he is also giving Filipinos the opportunity to check out the accounts of the other politicians by challenging them to sign their waivers too! But Corona was condemned, because he is allegedly doing this to maneuver his way to an acquittal, and because he is the only one on trial.
My daisies, what happened? What happened to the overly vindictive Filipinos who have no qualms with overriding the law just so they can smack a guilty verdict on Coronaâ€™s face? What happened to the Filipinos who disregard existing laws in the guise of â€œliberalityâ€? What made the Filipinos suddenly recognize the rule of law?
Oh, but of course… itâ€™s because Corona is the one making the dare. Seriously, how can you accept the fact that the one you despise is the one giving you what you want most? We certainly cannot have that now, can we? And so the Filipinos suddenly switched on their â€œrule of lawâ€ button to continue demeaning the respondent. Yes, some sense of justice we have.
In many aspects, Coronaâ€™s dare was pretty nifty, hitting two birds with one stone. The first bird was the reputation of his persecutors. The second one was the hypocrisy of the Filipinos, attempting to uphold the rule of law only when it suits their egotistic purposes.
And so my musings on the events that transpired in the impeachment trial end. Whatever the verdict may be, this trial successfully showed the world a vivid glimpse into the deeper dysfunctions of the Filipino society.