To speak or not to speak? That is the question

Starting about two weeks ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona started conducting interviews with the media, and also started appearing more often in public forums. These were the forums wherein he spoke out against every accusation leveled at him by the President, his critics, and the Basas.

Was it truly a wise decision for him to come out speaking to the media? Objectively speaking, he was never a match for President Aquino, who is backed up by media juggernauts ABS-CBN and PDI. Between a scholar with a soft voice and a moron with a megaphone, who do you think the people are going to listen to? The answer is the no-brainer.

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With one week to go before the Senate goes into recess on March 23, they are aiming to reach a verdict in the current impeachment trial before doing so. Everybody, most especially the senator-judges themselves, is growing tired of it, and his/her patience has already worn out due to this proceeding that has more or less played out like a telenovela. It is also not a stretch of the imagination to say that this trial has brought development in the country to a halt.

Undoubtedly, the question on a lot of people’s minds is this: Is Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona going to take the witness stand or not?

Indeed, only CJ Corona can truly explain all the numbers with regards to his properties, liabilities, income, and so on. Yet he does not have to. Under Article 3, section 17 of the Constitution, no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Some may argue that the above provision only applies to criminal cases, and that this one is not. Yet it still does not change the fact that ultimately, it is the defense council’s prerogative if he is to testify.

More importantly, one should ask: should CJ Corona even take the witness stand? Dig deeper, and you will find even more important questions that need to be answered first.
1. Who stands to benefit if he testifies?
2. Will his testimony actually help his own case?
3. What does CJ Corona stand to gain, or lose, once he does take the witness stand?
4. Does the concept of truth, that supposedly CJ Corona’s testimony will unlock, have actual substance in it, or is it yet another vacuous claim purported by the vox stultorum?
5. Is the failure to disclose acquisition cost actually an impeachable offense?

It is simple, really. Putting CJ Corona on the witness stand is like sending in a hunter into the tiger’s cave alone. The prosecution lawyers will only be too willing and gigil na gigil(eager) to humiliate him, instead of cross-examining him properly, like real lawyers do. The senators who have clearly shown their allegiance to the President will only be too happy to pounce on him and serve him up to the king of the pack in pieces. Even senator Enrile’s promise that he would resign should disrespect be shown to CJ Corona is not going to help. He is actually the one person who has kept some sort of order amid the chaos in this kangaroo court of a trial. Those who have been eyeing his seat will only be too happy that the number of dissenting voices will be one less. Does Franklin Drilon come to mind, anyone?

Putting CJ Corona on the witness stand will just compound the big error that this whole impeachment trial was from the very start. Thanks to Congressman Tiangco’s testimony, that the impeachment complaint was railroaded and defective from the start is no longer hearsay.

In a way, I understand Senator Enrile’s ruling that the SALN’s of other officials is immaterial to CJ Corona’s case. What I do not understand is whether he and the other open minds in the Senate have already seen the bigger picture. The Chief Justice is merely being used as an example, and a scapegoat being hung out to dry.

The law must apply to all, or none at all.

Regarding the SALN discrepancies, let’s do it this way. Why don’t they audit the SALN’s of each and every member of Congress and see how well he/she can explain whatever discrepancies could come out? If Malacañang is quick to dismiss any doubts on Butch Abad’s SALN, why don’t we get a third-party auditor, unaffiliated with the President, or any Philippine law maker, for that matter? Why don’t we see how well every single congressman can explain everything on the statement? Why are the congressmen so afraid of putting their own statements on the line if they have got nothing to hide?

Pandora’s box has already been opened with this impeachment trial, anyway. Why don’t we take out the last remaining thing, hope, as well? Hope in what, exactly? Is this trial going to be the one thing that is going to breach the Filipino’s tolerance for impunity? Will this trial set the precedent for any and all steps that we are going to take towards finally getting the transparent government we have been failing at for almost three decades?

If there is one person whom I would personally like to see testify, it is the President himself, Benigno Aquino III. It is the ultimate opportunity for accuser and accused to meet face-to-face in court. Yet if the Senate are unable to subpoena the judges of the Supreme Court, I doubt they will have more success summoning him. And frankly, I think his testimony will add nothing of substance.

22 Replies to “To speak or not to speak? That is the question”

  1. apart from a 10 Billion payday for cojuangco-aquino clan if corona is acquitted, a friendly CJ who sits as the influential figure on all election tribunals would be a vast help in 2013 and 2016 elections, by which time only idiits would vote for the LP. no wonder drilon acting as prosecutor in chief

    1. There are also rumors floating around that a friendly CJ will rule in Mar Roxas’ favor in the electoral case he filed against Jejomar Binay. Roxas accuses Binay of cheating in the 2010 elections and is seeking to remove him from the VP post and put himself there.

  2. The trial is a patchwork of legal and political forces, and Mr. Corona is in a box. If he fails to testify, he adds to the (political) impression that he is hiding. If he testifies, he risks the hazards that are pronounced in the old saw “it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”.

    I think one of the minor lessons that has come from the trial is that the rules for compiling an SALN, and evidently the form itself, are not very clear. Acquisition cost is crucially important in this case, but the instructions are apparently not clear on what cost to cite. So it is a mess of incomparable data, one form to another.

    The trial has also brought the Philippine’s strict bank secrecy laws to the forefront. The laws have “secret” and “corruption” written all over them. We Western cynics hold that they are mafia friendly, allowing the families to stock away the ill-gotten public’s wealth or laundry money in their hidden private accounts. Not even law enforcement, showing probable cause, can look at the balances, cash-in and cash-out.

    Finally, the trial will bring to the forefront the matter of Senator SALN’s, which indeed should be examined. And if they have undeclared dollar accounts, well, it will be interesting to see if the strict secrecy laws get changed. The laws are criticized by the U.S., which likes to hunt down tax dodgers.

    You hold the trial should never have been undertaken. I agree it is one of the sloppiest prosecutions in the history of modern jurisprudence. Nevertheless, I hold that the outcome is fundamentally important to set the bar for the professionalism and transparency of public office holders in the Philippines. Not guilty = low bar, Guilty = high bar, where the bar measures transparency, clarity and candor.

    1. Jeez, see how this dud’s mind work:

      “I hold that the outcome is fundamentally important to set the bar for the professionalism and transparency of public office holders in the Philippines. Not guilty = low bar, Guilty = high bar, where the bar measures transparency, clarity and candor.”

      This dud is claiming that if Corona is proven not guilty, the bar for the professionalism and transparency of public office holders in the Philippines is low and it is high if he is convicted…

      That is aside from claiming that this is one of the sloppiest prosecutions in the history of modern jurisprudence.

      {This dud will not give credit where it is due, Jeez…)

      Take note of how he payed it both ends.

      Brazen dishonesty and disinformation.

      Or this dud is just an ***** ideologue?

      1. BTW, before I forgot, this dud would either not refute me (read: would not correct me with my “diatribe”) or would just, again, play the victim card (I’m a racist!).

        BTW part 2, why censure my calling him idiot ideologue since calling him idiot before was not censured.

        But then, as a law abiding citizen, it’s your policy I’ve to obliged with.

  3. i, for one, hope corona won’t fall for the bait. it is up to the prosecution to prove his guilt, and not him to prove his innocence. the pressure that the senators are putting on the defense to have corona testify is obvious…and like you, i also feel that they want this so they can pounce on him.

    more power to you FallenAngel!

  4. Article 3, section 17 of the Constitution, “no person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself” is a contradiction in itself. Normally, when a person pleaded innocence, he will move heaven and earth to be heard. The most commonsensical response is to disprove them all under oath.

    But then again, we may credit Corona for being smart, but honesty,… never his defining attribute.

    It’s so “in-your-face-you-just-have-to-think” obvious: the accused is afraid he would not be able to put two and two together.

    the more

    1. ….he prolongs his being mum on the impeachment court and vocal on national tv, the longer he makes life miserable for him.

      Filipinos have short term memory for erring officials. He should avail of the benefits.

      1. Don’t ignore the fact that in the impeachment court, Corona will get persecuted by the piranhas who love grandstanding and who are itching to humiliate him. Just try Googling what Trillanes did to former General Reyes who committed suicide right after the senate hearing.

        1. I see your point. Indeed, the opportunists will have a field day grandstanding. Most of them are typical turncoats who basked in the sun with GMA during sunny times.

          This time though, I am respectfully asking your opinions:

          (1) How can we, as Filipinos,send the message to those erring politicians and wannabes,that WE MAY NOT GET ALL OF THEM, BUT THOSE WE CATCH WILL SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE?
          (2)How do we deal with big elusive fishes like Corona trapped in net (Please indulge me a bit for being figurative)?

          This assuming of course that you agree with the opinion that he is indeed corrupt, sans other corrupt politicians (they will have their turn).

        2. I do not agree that Corona is a big fish. He doesn’t get pork barrel funds like the Congressmen. The prosecution is even having a hard time convincing everyone that he has lied in his SALN. It appears to be just a matter of opinion.

          I am not against going after corrupt officials but I am against the railroading of the filing of the case and trial by publicity just to convict a political enemy. The prosecution should have done their job properly and within the law.

        3. Well, for me I’ll just tell it what I think it is. Legal or non-legal, it is clear to me that he is not fit to be the Chief Justice. Let’s just frame our argument around him (since he is the one in the hot seat).

          A journey is always taken with the first step. We can not put to account en masse the congressmen. Right now, some of the prosecution congressmen are in a bind regarding their own SALN. They are afraid that any moment now, their own SALN’s will be in the spotlight. That is of course if Corona is convicted.

          If Corona is acquitted, they need not worry. They put Corona to shame (the damage has been irreversibly done)and they can get off the hook anytime citing precedence. A win-win scenario nonetheless….to them.

          But for the poor Juan dela Cruz…..pathetic.

        4. See how their mind works once rebutted-

          “Well, for me I’ll just tell it what I think it is. Legal or non-legal, it is clear to me that he is not fit to be the Chief Justice. Let’s just frame our argument around him (since he is the one in the hot seat).”

          And this one –

          “If Corona is acquitted, they need not worry. They put Corona to shame (the damage has been irreversibly done)and they can get off the hook anytime citing precedence. A win-win scenario nonetheless….to them.”

          They can always tell what the future will be based on their agenda.

          They can see the future as I’ve been labeling them. Fabulist (take note Maher boy). While the pro due process is arguing what should not happen if trampling laws would be allowed.

          Jeez. Where in the planet are these people living…

          …In Penoy’s world…

          Straight route with a drunk walking along the path…

  5. Only the guilty is afraid to testify.

    Of course we all know he is guilty of trying to hide his wealth. Only the naive is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and agree on negligence. He is not only a lawyer but the Chief Justice for pete’s sake. If anyone should be measured with the highest standard of integrity and to understand and strictly follow the law, then it should be the Chief Justice, more than anyone else.

    In short, he failed to stand up to the highest qualities of a chief magistrate, one who renders final judgement of other people’s actions. Every “palusot”, every technicalities of the law ruled in his favor is only further eroding our already weak justice system–when we need to strengthen it with every ounce of our Filipino blood.

    Again, in this case, our attitude of “pwede na” is just making us lower our standards of morality, honor and decency–one where only the powerful and wealthy benefits and the rest of the poor and unfortunate souls are cast as pawns.

    1. They even have the news tonight of the survey of a percentage of who wants Corona:

      Convicted (as they say) – around (or more) 40%

      Acquitted – less than 10%

      No idea – more than 40%

      (Actually, I didn’t get the exact figure since I was cooking our meal for dinner – spicy tokwa combined with halaan – while I was imbibing shots of MP.)

      And the prosecution is claiming victory about it!!!

      The same thought that Maher boy and JCC would have at this time! They’ve won.


  6. I am simply tired of the Court Show…it’s boring already…while high cost of living, creeping on us. Noynoy Aquino and his family still own the land they swindled: the Hacienda Luisita; that was the root cause of the Corona impeachment…

  7. The whole point of Corona testifying is a trap, an obvious one,for the CJ.

    The question WHEN “BINABAOY o GINAGAGO” Corona will count. A pretense of “clarifying” questions will be barraged, seeing no one can intervene with this will turn into more interrogation and demonizing the CJ, especially done by Palace allies.

    Even if Enrile quits, it will weaken or might destroy the credibility of the impeachment court, but it will not faze those who has ambition and the circus will be placed maximum throttle.

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