Prosecutor Congressman Rodolfo FariÃ±as finally admitted at the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona that the 188 Congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint may not have read and understood the articles of impeachment properly. According to him, he did not sign the impeachment complaint because he was a slow reader compared to the rest and that the articles of impeachment were badly written:
“Mabagal kasi akong bumasa eh, kaya nung prinisenta saâ€™min â€˜yan â€¦ nung nakapirma na â€˜yung panghuli — maraming speed reader kasi diyan eh — dahil sobra-sobra ang pumirma na, 188, â€˜di na kailangan ang pirma ko at masama pagkagawa ng complaint (I read slowly and when the complaint was presented to us â€¦ when the last one had signed — there are many speed readers there — because so many had already signed, 188, my signature was no longer needed and the complaint was badly done),” FariÃ±as said.
If a bar topnotcher and a seasoned politician like FariÃ±as could not go over the documents in just a few hours, what more some of the Congressmen and women who do not even have a law degree? The allegations that the majority of the 188 members who signed the impeachment case were â€œcluelessâ€ of the eight articles and were only â€œblackmailedâ€ into signing the complaint which were used as the basis to try and kick out Corona have now been confirmed as true during the trial itself and by the deputy lead prosecutor himself no less.
We recall how some Congressmen who did not sign the complaint spoke out in disgust at the speed with which the 57 page document were signed by the majority in less than an hour. This was what Navotas City Representative Tobias Tiangco had to say previously:
â€œHow can you vote for the impeachment without having the chance to read the articles of impeachment much less verify the facts?â€¦Why the haste in the matter of hours? Why cannot we give him due process?â€
After Tiangco, other minority representatives had spoken out about the dubious impeachment process conducted by PNoyâ€™s supporters…
Some lawmakers have said the process of signing up for the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona was indeed rushed but proponents of the ouster move maintained it was all above board.
Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro CasiÃ±o said the majority of the 188 members who signed the impeachment case were clueless of the eight articles used as the basis to kick out Corona when they entered the majority caucus at 2:30 pm Monday.
CasiÃ±o admitted that they were not allowed to read the 57-page document, which they signed on as both complainant and endorser. The signing of the document by 188 congressmen paved the way for the approval of the complaint without having to toil through committee hearing or plenary voting.
The bulk of the signatures took less than one hour to gather and Corona was formally impeached at 7:40 p.m. Monday or less than five hours after the signatories were officially told for the first time about the charges versus the Chief Justice.
CasiÃ±o said the lawmakers relied solely on the presentation made by Liberal Party (LP) bigwigs who orchestrated the impeachment case under orders of President Benigno Aquino III.
It was House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman who said that many of those who supported the impeachment were blackmailed into signing. Lagman insinuated that, â€œThose who would refuse to sign will be deprived of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and other funding releases for their respective districts.â€
The question now is, what can be done about FariÃ±asâ€™s revelation? Even before the trial began, many Filipinos already thought that the articles of impeachment have very little, or no basis at all. However, despite the blatant railroading of the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Corona, the trial still proceeded. Unfortunately, just as most had predicted, the trial is beginning to look like a train wreck unfolding due to the prosecutorsâ€™ total disregard for the rule of law.
The prosecutionâ€™s latest gaffe was when they attached copies of Coronaâ€™s bank statements to the evidence presented on Day 12 without the approval of the Senate court. Prosecutor Rey Umali was forced to admit that an anonymous â€œsmall ladyâ€ handed the copies of the bank statement to him on his way out of the building. Hopefully an investigation will be conducted to find out who that mysterious lady is because she just broke the bank secrecy law.
Some people are even suggesting that the prosecutors should be disbarred for using an illegal document. The knowledge that bank employees do not hold the country’s bank secrecy law sacred can prove too costly by scaring potential investors away. We can say goodbye to the thought of becoming another Switzerland. The latter is known for having what they call Swiss banking law, which strictly limits the amount of information that could be shared with third parties.
The Senator judgesâ€™ seem unable to do much but apply â€œliberalityâ€ in dispensation of the court rules for fear of reprisals from the people behind this impeachment complaint. Only Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago seemed to be using her head when she filed a motion asking the Senate to reconsider its decision. Good on the lady Senator for giving everyone in the court an opportunity to think about the implications of forcing banking institutions to participate in what appears to be nothing more than a witch hunt.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile didnâ€™t seem to find Prosecutor FariÃ±as funny but judging from the laughter reverberating in the courtroom when he kept talking non-stop, it looks like the prosecution has finally found a prosecutor who can distract the rest of the Senators and the gullible public into believing that the articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Corona is valid. It would not be a surprise if he gets the vote because most Filipinos love someone who can grandstand before the cameras.
Prosecutor FariÃ±as did manage to bully his way into the proceedings by airing his opinions as if he was providing the closing remarks. He also tried to appeal to peopleâ€™s emotion by reiterating that Corona dipped his fingers into public funds — despite a ruling already in place that that part of Article 2 to do with “ill-gotten wealth” is no longer an allegation to be considered. He might as well have said, never mind the details of the case, we believe that the Chief Justice is guilty.
Well, I sincerely hope that people can see through his style. By not signing the impeachment complaint, it is obvious that FariÃ±asâ€™ decision to act as a prosecutor is quite suspect.[Photo courtesy Interaksyon.com.]
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