Will the Senator-Judges convict a man who interprets the law the same way they do?

Closing remarks day today for both camps! The court session today in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona brought a few things to light: (1) how utterly outclassed the prosecution lawyers are by those in the defense team, (2) how thin on substance the speech made by no less than the leader of the prosecution team, Niel Tupas Jr, was, and (3) how much gall Representative Rodolfo Fariñas exhibited on national television defending the prosecution case considering he declined to sign the very impeachment complaint (which he described as “badly written”) upon which this trial is premised.

So good was the defense presentation of their submitted position that Dean Tony La Viña was moved to tweet “After listening to closing arguments, I have to admit that the defense was overall more convincing, consistent and disciplined.” We will recall that La Viña who is mentor to caught-lying-under-oath star witness Harvey Keh had earlier been critical of how Corona, in his personal appearance in court last week, failed to “live up to the demands of that rigor and responsibility”.

But most notable of all was the participation of House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte in the closing presentations of the prosecution camp. Unfortunately for him, however, it was quite obvious throughout his speech that he did not have much to work with. At no other time in the course of this trial did the lack of substance of the prosecution case make itself more evident and it is quite unfortunate for the Speaker of the House that he’d be the face of this lack of substance today.

Belmonte, of course, was in the unfortunate position of not having any choice but to stand up for his House. No less than 188 of his colleagues in his chamber signed the impeachment complaint that Fariñas, a key member of the prosecution team, denounced as worth less than the paper it was printed on. Lest we forget, this constituted an unprecedented low in the annals of what is quite aptly called the Lower House recalling the manner with which no less than President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III himself reportedly lent a direct hand in the fast tracking of the House representatives’ signing of the articles of impeachment. Belmonte himself revealed then how “a ‘furious’ President Aquino wanted a ‘fast’ impeachment against Corona after he and seven other Arroyo appointees had issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to block the travel ban against Arroyo.”

Suffice to say, the House of Representatives was severely diminished by Corona’s impeachment trial and is, as such, one of its biggest victims. Now, after all that, Belmonte needs to be seen to be the leader of the House of Representatives that his position description says he is. Too late the hero. Seems like it was really BS Aquino who acted as House Speaker that time — wait, no, perhaps it was Uncle Peping…

That said with regard to Belmonte’s notable appearance, what in turn was really notable to the media and, most likely, to the viewing public was defense counsel Dennis Manalo’s brilliant extemporaneous presentation focusing on the prosecution camp’s decision to waive their right to cross-examine Corona when he showed up in person last Friday. As such the prosecution Manalo asserts failed to establish the soundness of their case against Corona and instead rests on the hearsay evidence presented by all the witnesses presented by both sides prior to Corona’s appearance. Manalo’s presentation together with the steely logical rigour applied by his fellow counsel Eduardo de los Angeles who enumerated each count in the shameful and disrespectful way the prosecution team presented their case to the court over the last 40-odd days followed by lead counsel Serafin Cuevas’s closing remarks reiterating the absolute clarity of the law on the handful of matters relevant to Corona’s case were all succinct and had direction. The contrast with Tupas’s sad waffling in the opening minutes of today’s session and Belmonte’s head-scratcher of a presentation owing to a limited foundation to stand his message upon was stark.

But the prosecution has been on a fishing expedition all this time and Corona was ultimately their biggest catch, providing in his own testimony the evidence that the prosecution could not provide throughout the days prior to his appearance. Now the decision to acquit or convict is now squarely in the hands of the Senator-Judges. Court presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile gave a hint of what weighs heavily on his vote, highlighting that the law does not in any way penalise depositors who opt to disclose assets covered by current bank secrecy laws. Enrile seems to have been implying that Corona is culpable for opting to misrepresent his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) under the principle of what sets apart mere fault or culpa and intent to defraud or deceive or dolus. Whereas the defense asserts that Corona’s opting to refrain from declaring his dollar accounts in his SALN was an intellectual interpretation — which can be construed as a fault in understanding — of the law, Enrile hints that he sees fault in such an action in terms of Corona’s possible intent — just short of him asserting intent to be deceitful on Corona’s part.

Either way, as de los Angeles had pointed out in his presentation, there is hardly any record of a government official voluntarily opting to declare in their SALN what the law stipulates is covered by current bank secrecy laws. It comes down to personal principle — whether judges who themselves are likely to be hiding something of their own will convict a person who interpreted the law and applied intent to doing so in the same way they did.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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41 Comments on "Will the Senator-Judges convict a man who interprets the law the same way they do?"

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Political considerations (because this is, after all, a political exercise) suggest an acquittal, with perhaps a face-saving scolding of the Chief Justice.

Belinda Madrid

I agree BenK…I do see an acquittal with a strong reprimand as well.

As always excellent writing Benigs…I will share this.


Teddyboylocsin said Llamas has been telling everyone they already have 18-19 votes.


Yep. Acquittal. 😀
But the hounding from the media and noytards will never stop. The battle may be nearing its finish, but the WAR has just begun.

For Real?
I don’t know why some see an acquittal as the obvious result. The legal war was won by the defense, but the glitz competition may have been won by the prosecution. The “walk out”, the very nature of the defense’s matter-of-fact just-the-facts-ma’am style, the lack of show biz pizzazz…a bit drab, entertainment-wise. The defense won’t win any cash prizes for their (tip of hat to Benign0) ocho-ocho dancing…or lack thereof. Meanwhile, the prosecution owned the airwaves during this whole production. I don’t trust the senators. Mass appeal over legal rigor may well be the yardstick for their measurements. For me,… Read more »
Sonny Belzunce
It is funny how Filipinos are more interested in the debates of the trial rather than the main issue that if CJ Corona is fit and credible enough to be Chief of Justice. Whether the prosecution presentation is less attractive than the defense. What matters is the welfare and integrity of the Justice System in the Philippines. Did he compromised the position as Chief of Justice. To me this whole trial is all about that. Even medically, if he had a heart bypass, I see his appointment questionable. He must be fit and able to do the job. His political… Read more »
@ BenignO “After listening to closing arguments, I have to admit that the defense was overall more convincing, consistent and disciplined.” Maybe. But the more important response is the answer to this relevant question – IS CORONA CONVINCING? After all the evidences presented, offered and admitted to the court by the prosecution and defense, after all the publicity stunts of both camps, and after all the COMEDY OF ERRORS by the prosecution and defense counsels, the GRANDSTANDING of (some) senator-judges, and the DRAMAS of the respondent, WILL THE IMPEACHMENT COURT DELIVER A CONVICTION OR ACQUITTAL? My fearless forecast – Considering… Read more »
As much as I agree with your sentiments, I can’t help but to think that it would be rather difficult for me to think that one would demand justice by breaking the law themselves. The prosecution team did just that. And yet, people keep telling people that the integrity of the the Chief Justice here is the one being tested, and that all other things must be put aside. There is something really wrong with that kind of notion, now that just about everything in this impeachment trial seems to be a circus, and by that I mean public distrust… Read more »
Jamal Ashley Abbas
As to Enrile’s question on CULPA, I believe he implied that DOLUS or intent to deceive is not necessary to be guilty of CULPAble violation of the Constitution. All it needed was CULPA or a mistake or fault. Enrile’s reasoning that a CULPAble violation of the Constitution does not need intent (to deceive) as in DOLUS is a NON SEQUITUR. Corona’s non-inclusion of dollar accounts and some peso accounts is NOT a legally imposed duty by virtue of the Foreign Currency Deposits Law and the fact that the peso accounts are not owned by the Chief Justice but merely held… Read more »
It was a pity the defense missed to higlight the definition of “culpable violation of consitution” based on the records of the 1987 ConCom. Such answer came from Farinas when solicited by JPE but it would have been more convincing to work for the defense if J. Cuevas lectured it upon the senator judges. The prosecution’s closing statement was too flowery, cheaply written and very thin of legal arguments. Kumbaga kikiam. Appealing sa masa. Malasa nga pero puro vetsin lang. The defense’s however was rich of intllectual reasoning. Masarap pakingan sa mga nais makaunawa. Pero para syang cordon bleu. Masarap… Read more »

Just a thought:
Once the judgment of the senators will be based on the soundness of CJ Corona’s interpretation on FCDU law, the Constitution and SALN law, patay ang Senators because it will open the doors for the SC to come in. They should not forget that all questions of law shall be resolved by the SC alone.

Hyden Toro
Speaker Belmonte was talking about “moral fitness”…I think the Dude is like a thief, talking about “moral fitness”…When you impeach a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in five (5) minutes of deliberation. And refuse to sign any waiver of your Bank Account…what would people think? You are “morally fit”, to hold public office? We ask the Senator Judges to Acquit Justice Corona. Stop the Greed and the Lust for Power of Noynoy Aquino, his family, and his cahoots. We want to move on, and strengthen/improve the Judiciary…so that common people like you and me…will have also a good service… Read more »
I’m not sure I get this. But intent was not proven or disproven or even questioned. Can JPE convict based on that? “Enrile seems to have been implying that Corona is culpable for opting to misrepresent his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) under the principle of what sets apart mere fault or culpa and intent to defraud or deceive or dolus. Whereas the defense asserts that Corona’s opting to refrain from declaring his dollar accounts in his SALN was an intellectual interpretation — which can be construed as a fault in understanding — of the law, Enrile… Read more »


Corona: he and his wife began investing their savings in foreign-denominated accounts in the 1968, when the peso-dollar exchange was at 2 peso for every $1.

CORONA IS A BIG F**KIN LYING B*STARD! The lie stares straight in your face Benign0! And that makes you and the entire GRP organization an accomplice, a PROSTITUTE of this very, very corrupt Chief Justice! Good riddance to all of you tomorrow!


PALUSOT?! Tough to disagree.

BUT I wish the Prosecution prepared, and did a better job from the opening credits of this mini series. The neglect of due process is a can of worms in itself and should never be overlooked.

In this light, however it’s decided, we all lose. Either way the law has been bent to reward one’s personal gain. A tragic ending to months of TV.

Game of Thrones na lang …

Der Fuhrer
I said that the worst is yet to come. The dictator BS Aquino and his liking for participatory socialism is very evident in what he says or does. His continuing support for the Marxist economic model of socialism is anti-thesis to democracy. Imagine the state easing out capitalism and promoting state control of the economy and production. Picture the state imposing collectivization and “equitable” distribution of wealth and properties. Utopia? Hell no! His Akbayan leftist party is for participatory socialism. The question is… will the Marxists fight the Maoists? Socialism is synonymous to red, commie and communist. Leftist deception may… Read more »
Domingo Arong
BenignO: I don’t think “the principle of what sets apart mere fault or culpa and intent to defraud or deceive or dolus” Senator Enrile elaborated during yesterday’s session would apply to CJ Corona’s reasoned failure to include his foreign currency deposits in his SALN. For there is this Civil Service Commission Implementing Rule (Section 1 of Rule VIII, Review and Compliance Procedure) of R.A. 6713 which specifically provides–in the case of SALN statements “not properly filed”–for the “NECESSARY CORRECTIVE ACTION” to be undertaken: “In the event said authorities determine that a statement is not properly filed, they shall inform the… Read more »
I think Farinas did brilliantly in his argument, especially the “Nagpapalusot lang si CJ” position that he over and over stressed in his statement. While this kind of reasoning won’t stand to logical and level-headed Filipinos, it is very appealing to the psyche of the “bakya” crowd. Kasi ang maiisip nila ay “kami naghihirap, samantalang eto si CJ may milyones na tinatago” at iba pang kadramahan sa buhay. And with the incoming 2013 elections, ang sentimyento ng masa will be the main consideration of the senators in their vote. Anyhow, President Aquino said in his previous speeches that CJ Corona… Read more »
up nn Grad

Trillaness has loyalties — after all, he was PaRRRddDDoNNED!!!

Now, a few Yellows had been yelling the old battlecry VILL-aaAAArrRRR-ooOYYyOO. The battle crying, (or bags???) seemed to have worked. Villar voted CONVICT.

What are the odds that the new CJ will sit while it gets re-visited — this Price-per-hectare-for-Hacienda-Luisita that Kris Aquino and others are to get?


My “fearless forecast” for Corona’s acquittal did NOT happen. I guess I underestimated the Senator-judges’ decision. My bad. 🙂