Key point of contention on Day 3 of the trial of the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Renato Corona is the emergence of allegations that Corona did not declare all of his assets — specifically big properties already revealed to the media — in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). So now that the SALN had been provided, the argument is now around its accuracy.
Supreme Court Clerk of the Court Enriquietta Vidal who is custodian of the SALNs of the SC justices was one of the witnesses called by the prosecution team. However, for some bizarre reason, she was questioned like a hostile witness by outside attorney of the prosecution team Mario Bautista who, some observed, consistently failed to lay the premise of his questions. Defense team leader Serafin Cuevas, on the other hand, demonstrated class and professional acumen in cross-examining the prosecution witness on the SALN and addressing the court in a way that brings them up to speed with proper court procedure. A commentor even quipped that Cuevas explained things the way a seasoned — and patient — lecturer would to one of the dimmer students in his class.
Interestingly, Bautista is a “top lawyer” of Philippine goliath media enterprise ABS-CBN and is reportedly currently the lead attorney for the private legal counsel of the prosecuting team…
â€œAtty. Mario Bautista has taken a leave from his functions and duties as General Counsel of ABS-CBN Corp. He informed us that he will take on the role of lead prosecutor at the CJ impeachment trial,â€ Bong Osorio, the broadcasting networkâ€™s head of corporate communications, told Interaksyon.com.
Sources said that aside from Bautista, four other top ABS-CBN executives are working for the House prosecution team: Maximilian Uy, chief legal counsel & assistant corporate secretary; Manuel Torres, corporate secretary; Maximilian Joseph Uy, legal services head and assistant corporate secretary; and Enrique Quiason, assistant corporate secretary.
The company, however, did not comment on the other four lawyersâ€™ alleged participation in the prosecution team.
ABS-CBN has long been criticised for acting like the family publicist of the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan. The Lopez family who now enjoy majority shareholding over the enterprise, owe much of its re-acquisition of control over the vast media network to the powerful clans it now seems to be serving. Shortly after the ascent to power of the late former President Corazon Aquino, ABS-CBN ownership reverted back to the Lopezes. ABS-CBN is also widely credited for creating the “People Power” and “Edsa Revolution” concepts, encapsulating the entire drama that saw the fall of former dictator Ferdinand Marocs and the “return” of “democracy” to the Philippines under those two catch phrases, and engineering the ingraining of these notions deep into the Filipino collective psyche through its omnipresent media channels.
Considering the precarious financial position of the Aquino-Cojuangco crown jewel — the huge Hacienda Luisita farming estate — it is not surprising that the full force of Kamaganak Inc is being conscripted to the “noble” cause of ousting Corona from the Supreme Court. Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) is reportedly insolvent and the clan’s continued ownership over the vast estate rests upon its continued exemption from the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) which only the High Court can effect. Indeed, there is some reason to believe that it is not only the financial health of Aquino-Cojuangco Inc that is at stake, but also those of what could be a web of businesses that have lent money to HLI…
To [President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III], Corona represented an absolute roadblock to the whole point â€” his mission to his family while President of the Philippines [to secure the future of the clan’s control over HLI].
Indeed, this goes beyond Hacienda Lusita and further to its creditors which includes other businesses within Aquino-Cojuangco Inc and the banks who had likely had their arms twisted into lending money to the spiralling enterprise.
If HLI descends into insolvency oblivion, it is bound to drag down all the poor sods it owes money to and could even precipitate a mini financial crisis on its own if the web of financial exposure to the doomed enterprise unravels beyond what is known today.
The question that becomes even more pointed now after catching wind of the awesome legal support being provided by ABS-CBN to the impeachment prosecution team is this:
Does Hacienda Luisita Inc owe money to ABS-CBN?
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata…
For now, let us also watch certain “senators” who supposedly swore to act as judges in this exercise. There is widespread perception that Senators Franklin Drilon and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan acted like prosecution lawyers and not like the judges which they were supposed to be in this trial. Included in the perception was Senator Alan Peter Cayetano who along with the Drilon and Pangilinan many opined “may as well have been working for the prosecution”. The plot thickens…
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