Perhaps it is as what everyone had suspected all along. Of what looked like volumes of “evidence” of improper conduct on the part of Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona splashed all over the media by the House of Representatives prosecution team (despite repeated warnings from the Senate), it turns out that only a tiny (if any) subset of all that noise was relevant to or within scope of the much-hyped Articles of Impeachment against Corona. Worse, whatever evidence the prosecution actually had was mostly inadmissible.
Indeed, despite an army of lawyers engaged by the prosecution and an even bigger army of media hacks scattering factoids surrounding “evidence” against Corona over the last several weeks, House prosecutors came up virtually empty-handed on Day 2 of the Senate impeachment proceedings — a day that turned out to be a disaster for Corona’s prosecutors. Part of their strategy for the day it seems was to put up Article II (the stuff about Corona’s alleged unexplained wealth) on the agenda ahead of Article I (the stuff about his “subservience” to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), which made Senate President (and presiding officer of the Senate Impeachment Court) Juan Ponce Enrile wonder, â€œIf you consider Article II your most important, why wasn’t it No. 1?â€
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Had Enrile allowed Article II to be discussed today, the prosecution would have come across as chumps nonetheless…
With no witnesses to introduce, the prosecution team also brought merely computer-generated documents to prove Corona amassed ill-gotten wealth while in power.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the impeachment presiding officer, refused to acknowledge the documents pending authentication.
This is only the most recent of the lengthening track record of gaffes coming from pro-impeachment campaigners. And it is quite amusing that the impeachment prosecution team itself would carry on that tradition in the Senate trial itself.
Just recently, what was supposed to be an “explosive” scoop on a supposedly damning report issued by the World Bank (WB) against the Supreme Court was made public by some media organisations. The WB report on the Supreme Courtâ€™s Judicial Reform Support Project (JRSP) was supposedly “leaked” by Malacanang sources to the media despite the document not being intended for public consumption. The WB later denied releasing the document to the media. And while the report rated the use of funds loaned by the WB to the project as “unsatisfactory”, it did not single out any one factor much less one person as being solely accountable for said performance…
While the WB sources revealed that the project was delayed and had to be extended several times, it cited a number of factors that contributed to these delays, including the 2009 Typhoon Ondoy disaster, “coordination issues”, “lengthy procurement processes”, and “changes in the judiciary leadership”. As such there is no hint of any one factor that could be made accountable for the lackluster delivery of the project.
An Inquirer.net â€œreportâ€, however, went as far as asserting that â€œThe Supreme Court under the watch of Chief Justice Renato Corona has been weighed and found wanting,â€ on the basis of the WB report — an assertion that is grossly inconsistent with the facts stated in the WB report. On the contrary…
Data from the World Bankâ€™s website revealed that the pace of implementation has picked up under Corona’s leadership, saying more than $1.3 million was disbursed in the first half of 2011 alone.
Previous to that, much ado over Corona’s supposedly “unexplained wealth” was being spun by various “online journalists”. The angle of choice of these “exposÃ©s” is mainly around how there is no way Corona’s salary as a government employee can cover the financial commitments entailed by his vast property portfolio. As Akbayan spokesperson Risa Hontiveros explains…
â€œthe Chief Justice can no longer ignore allegations that he has enriched himself in office way beyond his legal salaries and allowances as a member and now head of the Supreme Courtâ€
Of course, Corona is no ordinary government employee and had enjoyed many other professional gigs outside of government service. The private sector is known for being a bit more generous than the state when it comes to compensation. Perhaps Hontiveros, being a leftist mouthpiece, isn’t as clued in on the vast rewards that the capitalist free-enterprise system has been known to offer its savvier practitioners.
Going further down the depth of the barrel, we found veteran “investigative reporter” Raissa Robles and “online journalist” Marites Vitug scraping its bottom with their “reports” about the sketchy improprieties of Corona’s wife Mrs Cristina Corona and the “outrage” of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) awarding Mr Corona academic credentials under supposedly inappropriate circumstances.
I said it first, then:
All of the above fail the So What? test.
Day 2 of the impeachment trial re-administered the same test on what the prosecution had to show and got the same result.
I salute the grace with which Corona’s defense team spokespersons discussed the remains of the day with the media after that “disastrous” showing by the prosecution. They kept reminding everyone to apply a bigger picture perspective on the whole exercise we are being subjected to today courtesy of the vanity and small-mindedness of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and not see the bumbling antics of the prosecutors on Day 2 as a feather on their cap. The setback of the prosecution team is “just an initial victory” according to Atty. Tranquil Salvador of the defense team “This is not a day-to-day competition. In a trial like this, you need to build up your case,â€ Salvador said.
Considering the foul tactics of the anti-Corona campaigners even before the trial itself, I doubt that such grace would have been exhibited by the prosecution team had the outcome of Day 2 been more favourable to them.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.