From non-newsworthy boring to the biggest explosive drama yet. That was today’s session in the on-going impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. And despite this and the last several sessions being the turn of the defense team to present their case to the tribunal, the drama still revolved around the already evident idiocy of the prosecution team. The slow death-by-pahiya of the prosecution panel was presided over by tough-as-nails defense counsel Noel Lazaro who made the prosecution panel admit item-by-item the ruling out as “cancelled” of at least 17 of the 45 properties brandished by the prosecution team led by Niel Tupas Jr to the media at the start of the trial. Of the remaining 28 properties, only five were found to be directly under name of Corona and his wife Cristina — a far cry from the shocking outrage of 45 properties that the prosecution insinuated was acquired by Corona under suspicious circumstances.
Suffice to say, the cocky smirk sported by private prosecution attorney Jose Justiniano who issued admissions to each of the items Lazaro cited as “cancelled” was soon wiped off. It all went pear-shaped for the prosecution henchmen when Senator-Judge Joker Arroyo took the podium to issue some clarificatory questions to Land Registration Authority (LRA) head Eulalio Diaz III. Diaz maintained he was but a messenger of data outputted by an LRA computer showing that Corona supposedly owned 45 properties — data he signed-off on in a certification letter he issued to the prosecution team to affirm this number. But then the former Atenista and presidential schoolmate may as well have admitted that the computer was the boss. He did have a point though (if only he had not signed off on any written certification) when he said that “it is not the task of the LRA to verify the veracity of the information generated by the LRA database.” After all, it was the prosecution team who submitted the “information” as evidence to the impeachment court.
Diaz as it turns out, was a schoolmate of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. National constitutionalist extraordinaire and former Ateneo de Manila president Father Joaquin Bernas would have been mortified. Diaz and his chum(p) Noynoy were after all, the supposed “men for others” (now since deemed a politically-incorrect term) that form part of the proud tradition of the Ateneo alumni community. Thankfully, brilliant defense attorney Dennis Manalo, also a true-blue Atenean continues to stand tall to single-handedly redeem the name of the great institution of learning.
Nonetheless, for the first time in this trial, Senator-Judges other than Miriam Santiago were visibly peeved with the prosecution. This was certainly going to be a day that would go down in history as a day of infamy for the House of Representatives who, as we recall, saw 188 of its once-esteemed members flick the sloppily-written Articles of Impeachment onto the lap of the Upper House like a piece of hardened snot.
Complicit in this project to morph Corona’s impeachment into the national embarrassment that it is today was a very “cooperative” Philippine mainstream media mob that, parroted to its vacuous audience just about every press release made by the prosecution team. It will be interesting to see if there will be any rectification made on the volumes of “news reports” issued by this small inbred clique of freedom of speech “champions”.
Most ironic of all is the prosecution allegation that Corona “betrayed the public trust”. It is evident now that it had been the House-Media-MalacaÃ±ang political complex that did just that — a deliberate wholesale misleading of an entire nation. Not only was the chief magistrate of the Republic subjected to a trial that made even the Senate look like a bunch of chumps, the privacy of a number of people caught in the LRA database search dragnet mounted by Diaz were also violated.
Senate Pro Tempore Jose â€œJinggoyâ€ Estrada then asked why there were titles in the names of former Quezon City Mayor Ismhael Mathay and the National Housing Authority, Diaz said because the titles were sold to a certain Constantino Castillo, the name sake of Coronaâ€™s son-in-law.
One saving grace for the mob we can grant: it turns out that Raissa Robles, may not have been the alleged “small lady” after all — a small victory for a political bloc that squandered millions of taxpayer’s dough and a priceless chunk of the national attention span grasping at straws. Wait, there is another saving grace. At least Media are now back in business. After a big yawn over the “boring” foundations of evidence patiently and systematically laid by the defense over the last few days, they finally get their newsworthy drama this week.
But the real winners here continue to be the class act that is Corona’s brilliant defense team led by Serafin Cuevas. Today’s session showcased just how good these guys are, in the way they each held their own — Manalo, Lazaro, and Jose Roy III on the floor and Tranquil Salvador together with Karen Jimeno working the press — despite their fearless leader home resting after suffering from a persistent case of vertigo.
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